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Archive for May, 2006

Coffee and Milk

When I briefly talked about coffee in Dublin in a previous post, I don’t think I was quite fair. I do think that coffee has improved, and certainly we’ve come a long way in the last five years or so, but there is still quite a way to go. Cappuccino ThermometerBefore I wrote that post, I had one of the worst cappuccinos I have ever attempted to imbibe in a mall in South Dublin, and I paid 3.50 for the privilege. And I though we were expensive!

I suppose the entry into Ireland of Starbucks, whatever people might think of them, will nudge cafes to up their game. Already, milk thermometers are beginning to appear, and certainly not scalding the milk is one of the best ways to improve coffee drinks.

A big change that I noticed in some of the better coffee houses in Dublin is a huge improvement in the foam on cappuccinos. This is certainly welcome, though it does come with a downside, since it’s mostly due to the introduction of UHT Milk. milk cartonUltra heat treated milk is the rule on the continent and is what you would get when you order a cappuccino or latte in Italy, Germany, etc. A new product on the Irish market now is Cappuccino Milk, which is controlled for protein, which means consistent foam. I saw it in several coffee houses.

I have to say that although I’m a fan of progress and welcome new products to improve coffees, I’m a bigger fan of fresh milk, and we are certainly going to stick with it in our own shops. It might be harder to froth, especially when the cows are off grass in the winter, but it can be done with a little care, and even if it’s not quite as silky as the UHT milk, I think the end product is superior when it comes to taste.  

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Speed Dating for Business

I am a bit shaky today after a long drive back last night from Dublin, the last part of it in the dense fog, and it was well past 1:00am when I arrived home. We really are in the back of beyond here in Dingle.  

The Bord Bia’s Specialty Food Forum was interesting – all the food producers had the same-sized little booths, and had schedules set up with fifteen minutes to meet with various Irish and UK buyers in a business version of speed dating. Luckily my brother is the good talker, so I mostly handed out ice cream and let him take care of things.

Bord BiaAs we don’t have much interest in the big multiples at this point, it was mostly a case of listening and learning, and I think we did learn a lot. I came away with the deep conviction that our own shops are really where the short-term future lies for us, and I really would like to open another!

Anyway, it’s easy to be critical of the government agencies, but I think this is an example of fresh thinking on the part of Bord Bia, and I commend them for it.

There were many food friends there, such as Fothergills, Mortons, Urru, Ivan’s, Anderson’s to name just a few, and some new to ones to discover (at least for me, for most of them are well-discovered by this point!) including Ummera, who do fabulous smoked goods and also have a blog. Conor O’Neill wrote about them some time ago.

There was a big gala dinner and party at the end of it all, but the road home beckoned, and it’s good to be back in Dingle. It looks like Monday we will take our first delivery of Kerry Cow milk, so there’s much to do back here!

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Out and About in Dublin

I am in the Big Smoke after dropping ice cream to the Great Taste Awards. They are being hosted by Fallon and Byrne, a customer of ours with a new shop on Wicklow Street. Rather than go for a wide range of goods, they have chosen carefully and have a limited but tasty selection of foods. I would give you a link, but it seems their website is down…

My brother had signed us up for Bord Bia’s International Specialty Food Forum, and since ten companies including Tesco and Jurys Doyle expressed an interest in meeting us, he asked me to hang around in Dublin for couple of days and help him out. I didn’t need much coaxing. The meetings are not until tomorrow, and it is fun being a tourist in the capital.

Last night I ate at Dunne and Crescenzi, nestled in next to the Piedmont wines, and it was a tasty, light option as I had gorged on juice at the aforementioned Fallon and Byrne, and did not have a huge hunger. For people complaining about value in Ireland, this restaurant chain certainly would not bust the wallet, and a simple but delicious insalata caprese made with buffalo mozzarella and a nice orvieto went down a treat.

Then it was off to the Abbey to get a bit of culture. Aurelias Oratorio was the offering, performed by Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter Aurelia Thierrée. It is a visually stunning piece and quite a bit of fun.

I am still disappointed with the coffee around the place, but more on that later, and if anybody has any recommendations…

Tonight I think we will head for Rolys Bistro, and who knows what else!

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Raspberry Lime Sorbet

Raspberry Lime SorbetAs we face into summer, there is nothing quite like the fresh taste of a sorbet to cool the head and enliven the palate. Raspberry and lime is one of my favourites and it’s actually quite simple to prepare…

It’s great either as a dessert or a sorbet course. If it’s for a sorbet course, you might want to add another lime to make it more tart. The chocolate sauce recipe I gave here would be a great addition if it’s a dessert.

Murphys Raspberry Lime Sorbet

1 Cup (237 ml) Sugar
1 Cup (237 ml) Water
225 gm (8 oz) Fresh, Ripe Raspberries
4 limes

Yield: 6 Servings 

What to do: 

1. You will need the zest as well as the juice from the limes, so bring out your grater and work those peels (it’s much easier before you cut the limes!). If you have a zester, this step will be very easy…

2. Put the sugar and lime zest in a heat-proof or pan. 

3. Boil water in a tea boiler and measure out one cup.

4. Pour it over the sugar and zest, stir until the sugar has dissolved, and let it sit for about half an hour.

5. Strain out the lime zest and discard, and put the sugar syrup in a pan.

Raspberry Lime Sorbet 26. Add the raspberries and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat.

7. Stir it vigorously to break up the raspberries, then place into the refrigerator until cool.

8. When it’s fully cool, add the juice of the limes. If you don’t have a juicer, put a sieve over the bowl to catch the pips, and squeeze away.

9. Freeze using a domestic ice cream maker, or cover and place in the freezer.

10. If you use the latter method, wait until the sorbet is about halfway frozen, mix it vigorously, then return to the freezer.

Notes:

1. It’s hard to make sorbet without an ice cream machine. You will need to interrupt the freezing process and stir, or you will be left with a block of red ice! The more times you do this, the better the consistency will be.

2. For more information, I wrote about working with fruit in ice cream here.

3. This sorbet is suitable for coeliacs, the lactose-intolerant, and is virtually fat-free. For more on special diets, click here.

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How to Make a Banana Split

Banana Split

It seems the banana split was invented by a fellow named Strickler in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1904, although there is a bit of controversy about the fact.

In any case, it is an easy and indulgent treat to prepare, and the combination of the fruit, ice cream, and sauce, makes it a delight to consume.

To prepare it, simply take a banana and split it lengthwise. Pile on three scoops of ice cream (traditionally vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, although we substitute honeycomb in our shops.) Don’t make them too big – it’s already a big dessert!

Pour some chocolate sauce over the ice cream (you could also use caramel, or anything else that takes your fancy – pineapple was traditionally included).

Then pile on some whipped cream, and sprinkle chocolate shavings or sprinkles, nuts, or other toppings you enjoy over the cream.

A biscuit stuck in each scoop of ice cream completes the effect, and all that’s missing is the spoon!

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Things to Do in Dingle – Doonshean

Today was quite warm and it’s getting time to think about the beach again.

Doonshean Beach

Of course, Summer is at happy time in the world of ice cream, but it’s also a great time to be in Dingle.

For some reason, visitors to the peninsula usually keep heading West. Ventry, Dunquin, Ballyferriter and Ballydavid have a great pull. However, there are some lovely spots just East of Dingle town that are just as beautiful and far less crowded.

Doonshean is my favourite beach on the whole peninsula, and even the path leading to it is magically scented with woodbine and blackberry blossoms. The water is clean and the waves hits the beach straight on, making it ideal for bodysurfing or swimming. And the sand is white and perfect.

Mussels at DoonsheanThere is, however, a catch. It’s only at it’s best at low tide, when the water pulls back to reveal a whole series of sandy coves that let in the sun and keep out the wind. At any other time, there are better beaches, and at high tide, there is very little beach at all. So check out your tide tables first!

One small word of warning – on the left of the beach there is a strong and dangerous riptide. Stay to the right, and it’s perfectly safe.

To find it, head out the Tralee road from Dingle, and turn right at the first real road (it’s marked “Dun Seanna”). Take the next left, and follow it for a couple of miles until the road forks. Take right fork and follow it to the beach.

If you see anyone (and it’s unlikely except high season), don’t tell them it was me who passed on the (loosely guarded) secret of this lovely spot!

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Special Diets

Raspberry Sorbet

We are being asked by more and more people in our shops about whether our ice cream is suitable for people on a range of diets including coeliacs and the lactose-intolerant. So, I thought I’d say a few words about ice cream and special diets.

I don’t think that most coeliacs realise that most ice cream is gluten-free (unless it has biscuits in it, and of course it’s important to read the label!). All of our ice cream is gluten-free except two made with cookies and our tiramisu, which we only do occasionally.

There is also a wonderful Viennese cake, the Sachertorte, which is traditionally gluten-free (almond flour is used). I’ll put a recipe for it up here soon.

People who are lactose-intolerant and like their frozen desserts should look for sorbet. Sorbet is generally made with water, sugar, and fruit, and although Nero is purported to have invented it, you shouldn’t hold that against this delicious dessert! Our raspberry sorbet (photo above) is one of our best-loved bestsellers. Some people add egg whites to sorbet, but we’ve never been in favour of it since it can make the sorbet seem even sweeter and much less fresh-tasting.

Although sorbet can be high in calories, it’s generally fat-free as well.

Finally, there is the difficult case of diabetes. We’ve tried for a long time to come up with a reduced- or no-sugar ice cream, without much luck. Ice cream needs a certain amount of solids that is usually provided by sugar, and we’ve not found a viable substitute (we’ve even tried tapioca). Of course, we have a few self-imposed restraints – it has to taste great, and we don’t have much interest in using anything that is not natural.

The Diabetes Federation of Ireland has told us that the current thinking is that diabetics should monitor their sugar intake and be wary of products claiming to be “suitable for diabetics.” Still, that takes a bit of the fun out of it, and human nature being what it is, we would love to come up with something that diabetics can enjoy without too much worry.

Any suggestions are welcome!

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Author

Kieran Murphy is a director of Murphys Ice Cream living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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Company

Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream has shops in Dingle, Killarney and Dublin 2 (Wicklow Street).

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