The Imokilly Regato PDO has won an award (2 gold stars) at the Great Taste Awards 2011, which is the sign of an excellent cheese!
The unique heritage and flavour of Imokilly Regato cheese has been formally recognised internationally by the awarding of PDO status. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is an EU framework designed to protect the reputation of established regional foods and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour. Well know examples include Parmesan cheese and Burgundy wine.
Manufactured from milk produced by local pasture grazing cows, Imokilly Regato incorporates production skills traditional to the Imokilly region. The rennet used to make the cheese has been specifically developed for Imokilly Regato. It is based on some of the traditional coagulating materials for pre-medieval Irish cheeses described in research published in 1948. Regato curd is cut very finely to take heat very quickly and aid the growth of beneficial bacteria. The starter culture, the rennet and the curd handling develop the flavour, body and texture of this specific cheese. The cheese curds are shaped in moulds. The pressed cheese is salted twice, once in a brine bath and then dry-salted by a traditional hand method. The cheese is typically held in controlled conditions to mature for 9-12 months.
Regato is a hard Italian type cheese, characterised by its wheel-shaped with convex edges with a patented Celtic cord pattern embossed on the upper and lower surfaces.
Apart from its distinctive production methods, Imokilly Regato has a distinctive straw-yellow to golden-cream colour which is directly linked to the qualities of the local milk supply. The cheese is manufactured only from milk produced by cows grazing on pasture in the period March to October. The influence of the Gulf Stream on the climate of south-east Cork is such that cows in the catchment area spend an exceptionally large amount of their lactation period on grass. Because of the particularly long grazing season in this area, the milk has a distinctive colour and natural flora which is reflected in the taste and colour of Imokilly Regato. The milk contains high levels of betacarotene, the precursor of vitamin A, which imparts a special colour to it. This grazing profile also affects the fat content of the milk. It contains a higher percentage of low melting fatty acids which impact on the flavour.
Imokilly Regato has a unique taste, aroma and texture as a consequence of the combination of this milk supply and the production process incorporating cheese-making skills traditional to the region.
Add to this its versatility; this cheese is excellent for use on pizzas, jacket potatoes, quiches, in pastas and cheese pies. Regato is also used by Greek chefs in Saganaki, a popular Greek appetiser. This salty and aromatic cheese-based appetiser of fried or broiled cheese is served with lemon juice and crusty bread. Occasionally brandy is added as a flambé