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Archive for April, 2007

Feile na Bealtaine

Feile na Bealtaine Feile na Bealtaine, the annual May arts festival, is back in Dingle from May 1-7th. Anyone coming to Dingle during this time (and I highly recommend it) is in for a real treat.

The theme is Dingle’s links with Santiago de Campostella in Spain, since Dingle was one of the recognised leaving points for the pilgrimage. The festival kicks off with the Jeannie Johnston sailing off bringing pilgrims across the waters.

Some of the festival highlights are performences by Aslan, David Kitt, Mary Black, Scullion, The Four of Us, and Moya Brennan of Clannad fame.

There is also plenty of theatre, art exibitions, lectures, etc… Programs and tickets are available through the festival office on Main Street. The website is here.

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Mallorca Top Ten

Formentor Mallorca Mallorca was a pleasant place to visit, and I can certainly recommend it. Although there are plenty of the ugly high rise developments that mar the coast of Spain, there are also plenty of places that remain virtually untouched. The mountains provide much of the scenery, and there are lovely beaches for swimming. Throw in some good food and a bit of culture, and you could do far, far worse. In fact, I really wished I had more time…

Here are the highlights of my visit to Mallorca:

1. Drinking a thick chocolate and eating orange sorbet made from local oranges while watching the harbour in Palma at Grand Cafe Cappuccino. It’s a chain, but they know what they are about.

Fundacio Joan Miro2. Getting a bit of culture at Fundacio Joan y Pilar Miro. I have always loved his paintings, and this combines a museum with his house and studios. It’s quite a thrill to see where he painted some of his great works.

3. Cafe Cortado - This the preferred drink for a lift in the afternoon. It’s usually a double espresso with a dash of steamed milk served in a small glass…

4. The raw beauty of peninsula Formentor. Even with all the coach tours, this place is unmissable. If the road gets too windy and you get too hot, there are a few good beaches to jump in and cool down.

Cala Pi Beach5. Swimming in the cove at Cala Pi, on the South Coast. You have to climb down a steep set of stairs to access a perfect beach with protected waters.

6. Tapas. Every one seems to agree that La Boveda has the best, and I can’t disagree. They were sublime!

7. The public transport buses in Palma. For 1.10 you can get just about anywhere, and they come regularly! A great way to get home after a late dinner with a few glasses of wine (see #10)…

Valdemossa Mallorca8. Exploring the mountain towns. Although many of these are quite touristy, they make a great place for a wander. The most famous is probably Valldemossa, where Chopin and George Sand spent some of their troubled time together.

9. Spanish Leather. There’s much to choose from. I came back with a new pair of Campers - the company is based in the town of Inca, which has a great tradition of leather work.

10. Good Spanish red wine.

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Food & Wine

Food and Wine Magazine I’m happy to say we have three (!) mentions in this month’s Food & Wine magazine. (Their website seems to be down, but I’ll try to put in a link as soon as I can). Their summer issue is well worth a read, containing as it does their “Hot 100″ list. It contains quite a few references to Spain, which is no surprise given how chic Spanish food is at the moment, but more about that and my trip later. 

Besides listing our Killarney shop and a piece on us under food producers, they also used my ice cream drink ideas on the back page. Talk about blogs meeting mainstream media…

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Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream

Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream Closeup I had some excellent orange sorbet here in Mallorca last night, made with local oranges, but I will summarise my trip here when I get back in a couple of days. For now, coffee is still on my mind!

Just before I left, we made Cinnamon Latte ice cream for our shops. I think it´s a nice combination of flavours, so here it is:

Murphys Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 Cup (237ml) + 1 Tablespoon Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/8 Cups (266ml) Cream
1 1/8 Cups (266ml) MilkCinnamon and Coffee Beans
1/2 Cup (118ml) espresso
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Yield: 6 Servings

1. Add one tablespoon of the sugar to the espresso and reduce over medium heat until it is about 1/3 of its volume. Cool.

2. Mix the cinnamon with the rest of the sugar, then beat in the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow.

3. Bring the milk to a simmer.

4. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.

Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream5. Pour the mixture back into pan and place over low heat. Stir until the custard thickens slightly (around 70C). Use a thermometer, as at 75C the eggs will scramble!

6. Allow the custard to cool.

7. Stir in the espresso.

8. Whip the cream.

9. Gently fold in the custard.

10. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer, stirring every few hours to break up the ice crystals.

Note: I haven’t yet made this recipe for home use, so I would love any feedback if you try it!

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Coffee Quandary

Latte Thermometer Being in Mallorca, drinking very tasty coffee, brings one of our coffee quandaries into sharp relief. Here, as in virtually everywhere on the continent, baristas do not scald their milk. Coffees with steamed milk are served ready to drink, in terms of temperature, which is much cooler than you will find in most Irish cafes.

I have written about the temperature of steamed milk before, here and here. Yet the biggest cause of complaints in our shops by far is about the temperature of our coffees containing steamed milk. Although we regularly have people tell us our coffees are the best they have tasted in Ireland, just as regularly people (almost exclusively Irish and English) tell us their drink is “cold.” 

I assume it is mostly a function of us going from a nation of tea and instant coffee drinkers – both made with boiling water – to latte and cappuccino drinkers without understanding that the latter are fundamentally different drinks. The difference is the milk – overheat milk and there is a chemical change – the proteins and fat separate out and the result is watery, bitter, scalded. A latte in our shops will seem cold compared to tea, even though we heat the milk to a greater temperature than the Italians or the Spanish.

Our quandary, then, is this:

We believe that the way we make cappuccinos and lattes, using a thermometer to obtain an exact temperature that is as hot as possible while keeping the milk intact, ensures the highest quality. However, at the same time we want our customers to be happy, and a large number of them are not. It causes us great pain that people are going away grumbling about “cold” drinks. We will always (and happily) serve a drink extra hot if asked, recognising that people´s tastes differ.

My brother and I have spent hours on this issue, trying to find a solution. We have tried to ask everyone who orders whether they want it extra hot, but that hasn´t worked well, since “hot” is such a relative term, and people are usually just confused. We have written about it on our menus and our menuboards. We have tried to explain the issue to customers who complain (after heating up their drinks), that it´s not a mistake but a choice, but that isn´t always successful. The last time, the customer said, ”Can you believe it? These guys serve cold lattes on purpose!”

I am at a bit of a loss. If we raise the temperature across the board, the quality will suffer. In my opinion, it´s the single largest reason Irish coffees are generally sub-standard. At the same time, keeping our customers happy is certainly much more important to us than whatever we think about the temperature of steamed milk. But is it worth it to lower the quality for everybody to pacify those who think our drinks are too cold?

Suggestions welcome!

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Off to Mallorca

I have taken the opportunity of the post-Easter lull to sneak away for a week of relaxation in Mallorca. I will post when I can. If anyone has any favourite cafes, ice cream shops, chocolate shops or restaurants, please let me know!

Kahlua Brownies

Kahlua Brownies Once Upon A Tart  is hosting a brownie day, so I used that as an excuse to bring out the chocolate and get back to brownies. I wanted something with a coffee kick, so here’s my moist, dark Kahlua brownie recipe:

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Kahlua

Servings :8 Preparation Time : 00:45:00 (including baking)

Categories : Pastries

Ingredients:

250 grams chocolate (70% cocoa content)
165 grams butter @ at room temperature
3/4 tablespoon natural vanilla
300 grams sugar
100 grams flour
3 each egg
100 ml Kahlua Liqueur

Instructions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
2. Butter and flour an 10 inch square baking pan. Set it aside.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Mix until smooth.
4. Beat the sugar and eggs together.
5. Add the vanilla.
6. Slowly pour in the chocolate and butter, mixing all the time.
7. Sift the flour, then add, mixing thoroughly.
Brownie with Honeycomb8. Stir in the Kahlua.
9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake 25 minutes (a knife should come out just about clean).
10. Allow the brownies to cool slightly. Then cut them into squares and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Caramel ice cream is a great accompaniment for these

Note: If you’re in the UK or Ireland, please read my comments on flour, or you will be very disappointed with the results!

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Dingle Traffic Management Plan

There is a lot of anger in Dingle at the moment over the new traffic management plan proposed by Kerry County Council, and I spent half the afternoon in a meeting about it. Basically their idea is to remove all of the street parking from the town centre, restrict car access, and build a new ring road with remote parking lots. It seems the way of the new Ireland to make it more and more difficult to get into, park, and live in town centres, which has the effect of hurting the town but boosting development on the outskirts. We’re rapidly becoming a country of suburban sprawl and shopping malls, but we will try here in Dingle to keep our town intact.

Following is a humourous look at the new Dingle that I came across:

 Town Map

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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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