Payard’s Lemon Tart

Lemon tart

I am in the rare position of having enough coverage in the Dingle shop that I have a bank holiday weekend off. After enjoying the sun yesterday, today was bleak and rainy, and so I turned my attention to another new cookbook that I acquired – Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard.

Payard, originally from Nice, is an award-winning dessert chef in NY, and I must say that his lemon tart was a huge success among my lucky family members. The only comment is that the filling didn’t really fill the crust, but then my pie dishes are 10 1/2 inches, which is probably bigger than he’d expect. I’d increase the volume of ingredients next time.

Also, similar to my rant on flour, it’s impossible for me to find normal confectioners sugar in the shops (and we ran out of it in production). What they have here is icing sugar, but it’s laced with all sorts of other ingredients and behaves very strangely. I substituted caster sugar in the crust, and it seemed to work ok although the dough was a bit delicate. I’d probably put a little less in next time and add more flour.

I will try the chocolate tart next and let you know how I get on, but on the balance of one trial, I highly recommend the book. The other recipes look delicious!

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Plans for Killarney

There are new plans posted for re-doing Main Street in the offices of the Killarney Urban District Council, although strangely enough the plans on their website only are as recent as 1995.

Killarney PlanBasically, the idea is to turn Main Street (the home of our Killarney Shop) into a one way system with a wider sidewalk. Unfortunately for us, the wider sidewalk is on the opposite side to our shop, and in front of us they had placed a set-down area and actually narrowed the sidewalk. We lodged a letter of complaint, and it now seems from the new plan the sidewalk in front of us will at least retain its present state (about 4 metres).

They seem to be trying to give the centre of Killarney a more European feel, and we’ve been pressing hard for outdoor seating, which we feel would be in keeping with that idea. However, there is little movement for the moment. The noises coming from them suggest they are worried about setting a precedent, but the odd thing about that is there is outdoor seating elsewhere in town.

(They also planned on starting to dig up Main Street before the tourist season, and thank heavens they have pushed that back to September.)

We’ll have to see what develops, and we will keep pushing…

Although their website is very out of date and not very helpful, the same cannot be said of their parent – Kerry County Council. I couldn’t find their plans there either, but they are hip enough to have webcams in both Tralee and Killarney. If the placement was slightly closer to our shop, we could really keep an eye on things!

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Hither and Thither

I’m just back from an extremely gruelling trip to Belfast and back in the search of new honeycomb (caramel) pieces. The trip was successful, the honeycomb pieces are much better, and I can now say that I’ve been in a honeycomb factory. Very cool.

Belfast was most memorable for the friendliness of the people, which I found surprising. It’s been years since I’ve been there, and back then I remember fear and suspicion. Not anymore, it seems. Everyone was most helpful in helping me find my way, and the three running the factory were absolutely delightful.

HowthOn the way back down, I stopped in Howth for a break and a stroll on a lovely day. I would dearly love a shop there. It’s such a delightful town, and seems to have the same open, relaxed, holiday vibe as Dingle.

All for the future, I suppose! Now I’m heading home. I’m knackered!

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Chai Latte and Brown Bread Ice Cream

As part of our preparation for the Great Taste Awards written about in an earlier post, we made flavours. Chai latte, which was actually a request from Ard Bia in Galway, came out quite nicely, and if you want to try it, simply add a couple of espresso shots to the Honey Chai recipe I gave earlier and drop the honey.

Brown Bread

The brown bread ice cream took most of our attention, however, since it’s a bit hard to get right. In Ireland, people think of brown bread ice cream as a very Irish invention, but there are Britain historical references from 1894 in that mention it. Mind you, they could have brought the idea back from the emerald isle!

It’s a nice flavour – the bread should be crunchy in a base of vanilla ice cream with a dark, molasses-like flavour. To make it you need some dark brown bread (a bit stale helps) that you crush into small bread crumbs. You then sprinkle dark brown sugar sugar over it and place under the grill until it melts. Stir it, place it back under the grill, and repeat.

Brown Bread Ice Cream

We tried regular brown bread, brown bread with Baileys, and brown bread with whiskey, all of which we sell in the shop from time to time. Perhaps I’ll pass on a full recipe later, when we decide which we liked best!

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Photos and Feile na Bealtaine

honeycomb ice cream

I am still getting used to the Leica I talked about in my last post, and I’m still loving it. I shot the photo above in the scooping cabinet, under its neon light. A great thing about the camera is all the manual settings, including white balance so that colours turn out right under all sorts of lighting. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve bought something that has so far exceeded my expectations! I highly recommend it.

In other news, tickets are coming on sale for the 12th Annual Feile na Bealtaine (6th – 14th May). It is such a lovely time to be in Dingle. Music, art, literature and theatre abound, and it’s still low tourist season so it’s all very low key and can be enjoyed with a minimum amount of hassle.

The music headliners are the Chieftains, playing on the 14th of May in St. Mary’s church, and the tickets are already selling briskly, so anyone interested should contact the ticket office soon.

Other music acts include the Cassidys and Alphastates.

Authors on hand include Draco Jancar (Joyce’s Pupil) and Nenad Velickevic (Lodgers), and Manachan Magan is coming to talk about TV and film.

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New Toy – Photographing Food

Conor ConeAfter much frustration with my digital camera, I took the plunge and dropped a bit of cash for a Leica. I was having trouble with the food shots, especially in low light. Rather than go for a huge SLR, I decided to stay compact but invest in something with a great lens.

With the help of a photographer friend, I chose the D-LUX 2 and ordered it from the UK.

Two days later it was here, and I’ve had a ball playing. After an ice cream bribe, I even got my nephew to pose!

I can’t wait to get it into the kitchen…

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Great Taste Awards

Great Taste Awards The Great Taste Awards, put on by the UK Guild of Fine Retailers, are being held this year in Dublin for the first time ever. Although we have won gold and silver medals in the past for flavours ranging from vanilla to mango lassi, we’ve decided to enter again to honor the fact that it is being held on Irish soil.

Pulling Ice Cream

The question, of course, is what flavours to enter. They have categories for Vanilla and Chocolate, which are quite straightforward, but they also have nut, sorbet, and miscellaneous categories.

For the miscellaneous category, we have made a long list that includes Green Tea and Ginger, Honey Lavender (I gave the recipe here), Brown Bread with Baileys (or whiskey, or just plain brown bread), or possibly Chai Latte, or Honey Chai.

For the nut, we’ve already won a gold medal for Praline and a silver for Peanut, so perhaps Pistachio with Rose, or maybe go back to peanut and add homemade chocolate chunks.

For the sorbet, we’re thinking about Raspberry and Lime, which is a nice combination.

Any thoughts or comments?

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Things to Do in Dingle – Diseart

Harry Clarke Window  I sometimes forget that there is more to life than ice cream, but today I took a few hours and called up to the Diseart, which is now under new management.Diseart

I think it is one of the interesting things to visit in Dingle, and most visitors tend to miss it.

Originally a Presentation convent, with only one Sister remaining, it is now home to an Education and Celtic cultural centre.

These days, you’re much more likely to meet a student taking part in a variety of courses than anyone who is a member of a religious order.

The real draw is the upstairs chapel with a stunning set of Harry Clarke windows, commissioned in 1922. Clarke was originally from Dublin and considered one of the very best of his craft. It’s well worth the €3 entrance fee.

Diseart tunnelYou can also wander around the gardens, and there will soon be tours of the famine kitchen and the secret tunnel leading between the convent and the church (in the mean time just ask!).

These days, with the mad housing boom, we seem to be much more interested in ripping down old buildings to make room for new developments than in preserving them.

It’s a joy, however, to spend some time inside a bit of history!

Harry Clark Window Closeup

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