Archive for January, 2007
Things seem to be looking up for our poor, beleaguered shop in Killarney, as the construction on Main Street is continuing apace. The Killarney UDC promised us that the sidewalk outside our shop would be finished by the end of January, and it looks like they have made good on that promise.
You can see from the photos that they areÂ putting down the paving slabs outside our door…
Hopefully the entire project will be complete by the middle of March, which means that we will be operating in a construction zone for the next month and a half. However, as we open the shop for the season day after tomorrow, at least customers will be able to get to us!
We certainly hope that the redevelopment of Main Street will improve the town, and it will give more of a plaza feel to our street. The downside is it might make traffic worse and parking more difficult.
We’ve also been promised permission for a couple of tables outside, and the happy thought of people drinking coffee and eating ice cream outside helps to mitigate the construction disruption to our business…
Thanks to Brendan O’Connor for a mention of us in today’s Sunday Independent. He also makes some good points on the Dublin docklands area and posh food shops in Ireland. Well worth a read…
I know this has nothing to do with ice cream or Ireland, but one of my best friends in the States, Cynthia Wade, has won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her documentary film, Freeheld. Based upon Laurel Hester, a dying police lieutenant who wants to leave her pension benefit to her same-sex partner, the film is about love and battling injustice. If you want to support the film or get more information, click here.
I am so proud of you, Cynthia. Well done!
Killarney doesn’t really have the best reputation among many Irish people, who view it as a tourist trap. However, there are reasons that it has been popular among tourists, both foreign and national, for so long (my great grandfather used to visit it from Cork). The top reason is the National Park, with its mountains and lakes. Whether for hiking, strolling, boating, or simply walking the dog, it’s a treasure.
Even in the depth of Winter, the beauty is stunning. I managed to sneak an hour of walking in yesterday, and I’ve made a vow to make more of the park on my frequent trips to Killarney to visit our shop there. It’s such an amazing resource…
I have been in the mood for fudge, and with David Lebovitz hosting an event based on chocolate by brand, it seemed a good excuse to pull out the Valrhona and go making it, even though I missed his deadline. Why Valrhona? Well, it is my favourite eating chocolate, and it also tastes the best in many cooking applications. So which one? I decided on Caraibe, because it’s dark enough to keep the fudge from being over-sweet and smooth enough to balance the bitterness of the coffee. In fact, eating it, you would never guess that it has such high cocoa content…
Please note – you will need a good thermometer. The temperatures are very important!
Kieran’s Coffee Fudge Recipe
500 gm caster sugar
250 ml cream
120 gm Caraibe (66%) chocolate
75 ml very strong coffee
40 gm butter
What to Do
- Put all of the ingredients in a good, thick-bottomed pan (it shouldn’t be too small, or it’s more likely it will burn).
- Melt over low heat, stirring until chocolate and sugar are dissolved.
- Cease stirring, increase the heat, and bring the temperature to 115C.
- Immediately place the pan in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process (you can use your sink, half-filled with water).
- Cool until 80C. Beat with wooden spoon until fudge lightens in colour and becomes more solid.
- Pour into baking tray and cool until the fudge sets.
- Cut and serve.
Tapioca makes a great pudding base, and it was a favourite in our household when I was growing up. It’s a simple dessert to prepare and great comfort food for the Winter. Since it has quite a neutral taste, almost anything can be added for flavouring.
Tapioca comes from the cassava root – a plant originating in Brazil but now common across Africa, South America and Asia as its root is nutritious and can be used for making many types of food. In these parts it comes in pearl or flour form (used as a gluten free alternative to wheat flour), and it’s the pearls I use.
Apparently, there is a thing called “bubble tea” that is all the rage in Taiwan and Asian communities around the world - it’s tea or fruit drinks served with tapioca balls mixed in. I must try that sometime, but I digress… All things must come back to chocolate, and since I did a black and white drink, why not a black and white dessert?
Try this for a simple and delicious end to a meal:
Cocoa Tapioca Recipe (served with vanilla ice cream)
100 gm tapioca Pearls
50 gm cocoa (pure, unsweetened)
50 gm sugar
700 ml milk
What to do:
1. Mix the cocoa and sugar together.
2. Add 100 ml of the milk in small parts, mixing until you have a smooth paste.
3. Transfer into a small saucepan, add the rest of the milk and tapioca, and heat over a low flame.
4. Stir continuously, keeping the pudding just below a simmer, until the pudding thickens and the pearls become clear (about 20 minutes).
5. Top with vanilla ice cream and serve!
Today I ventured into our closed Dingle shop to pilfer some coffee beans (it’s been a terrible shock to the system having the shop closed, since I became quite used to rolling out of bed in the morning and heading to the shop to warm up the espresso machine and make a latte to kickstart the day) when I found the Max Brenner chocolates still on the counter – a gift brought from New York by a customer.
Max Brenner is an Israeli company (the name is a composite of the two original owners), has branches in Australia and other parts of the globe as well, and I’m told they do a mean hot chocolate in their cafes. It would seem from the packaging that there is as much emphasis on marketing as on chocolate, but it seems to be working. There are photos of one of the NY shops and one of the original owners here.
I know I don’t get about often enough and that I’ve been away from New York City too long when it takes the great Lady K to bring back samples from the latest NY chocolate shops, and I haven’t even heard of them!
I guess it’s another excuse to go travelling again. New York? Then again, I’ve always wanted to go to Israel. Well, one can dream…
Before getting back into the world of ice cream, I just want to add something more about my trip. When coming back from Belfast, we decided to stop at two of Ireland’s most important historical sites – Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. I especially wanted to see the latter before the proposed motorway becomes a reality. So I entered “Newgrange” into the GPS, and we wound our way through the suburban sprawl that is the new Ireland.
It’s been many years since I’ve been to Newgrange, and when we arrived, I found out the disappointing news that the only access is through the visitor centre, 10 minutes away by car. You have to drive there, join a tour, and they bus you back and escort you through. This didn’t appeal to me much, as I am allergic to bus tours, and I grumbled and suggested they signpost this fact on the access road. The woman on guard said rather curtly that if I had come through Slane, it would have been well-signposted, and that I couldn’t expect to waltz in on a World Heritage Site. I pointed out that Slane is not on the way from Belfast, and that I had just done a bit of waltzing on the Giant’s Causeway! I understand the need to preserve Newgrange, but does the visitor centre really need to be so far away, and in the depth of January when there is hardly anyone there, does every visitor really need a bus tour?
So we headed on for Tara, and it is quite a contrast. There, you can wander around as you like, and little effort has been made to protectÂ or explain it (the church/visitor centre was closed this time of year). Certainly this amazing site should be protected as well, and it should be free from motorways. Is it really possible that we value suburban sprawl so highly and give so little value to our heritage and our history? Of course one might argue that if Tara were made into a heritage site, you’d be back to heritage centres and the bus for access. Then again, the new motorway would probably get you there and back faster!
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