Archive for September, 2007
I’ve been trying to take a photo of an ice cream cone for the front cover of our upcoming ice cream cookbook. I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve tried to photograph, especially since we want it to be melting slightly, which we think makes it look less static. There’s so much humidity in the air that the ice cream tends to frost up before it melts. Anyway, here are a few attempts. The last one is from a few months ago… Now I’m off to the All Ireland. Chiarraí abu!!!
Also, local man Kevin Flannery will guide a foraging walk with instructions on how to survive from the coast.
And I think that we will take out all other ice cream from our cabinet and do 16 shades of chocolate!
The Tidy Towns Committee announced the 2007 winners, and Killarney won for “Ireland’s Tidiest Large Town.” I have to say, from our experience of running a shop there, that the civic spirit of the town is wonderful, and so many people really put care into how the place looks.
Well done, and well deserved!
After such a wet summer, it truly is balm to the soul to have a run of weather that’s lifting all of us in Dingle into realms of giddiness. Perfect warmth in the sun, no wind, blue skies. It’s heaven!
Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either sweet or bittersweet, since the kids are back in school, most of the tourists gone home, and most of the enjoyment going to locals, catching their breath after the busy season.
For us, in the world of ice cream, it’s also a bittersweet time, as we say “good-bye” to many of our staff who have worked so hard, given us and our customers so much joy all summer, and are heading back to their courses and universtities both in Ireland and abroad.
Of course there is a core team who will stay, and in fact we’ll have to hire if we can (It’s only easy to find staff during the summer months).
So anyone who knows a good driver or baker, send them our way!
Now I’m off to the beach!
Taste is a funny thing. When the Napoleonic wars disrupted coffee supplies, the French started mixing in chicory root. They developed a predilection for it, even when times improved, and coffee with chicory became the norm. Here, in Ireland, we moved so quickly from tea to coffee that, being used to tea, a standard latte seemed “cold” to the palate. Baristas started scalding the milk, and now many Irish people rate as inferior a latte or cappuccino that is not blisteringly hot.
“Don’t worry, darlings,” a woman consoled us recently in Dingle, after sending back her drink for a scorching. “I was just in Italy. So disappointing. They also served me cold cappuccinos my entire trip until I finally explained to them how to heat it properly.”
I’m amazed this didn’t cause a diplomatic incident, with ambassadors recalled and large sums paid over for rehabilitating the barista, who is probably still huddled in a corner of his bar, muttering to himself. An Irish person explaining to an Italian how to make a cappuccino? La discesa dei barbari!
I’ve written several times about the reasons for not over-heating lattes, cappuccinos, and any coffee drink containing steamed milk (here, here, and here). We’ve put up signs in our shops, made menus explaining the issues, and yet we still struggle with keeping customers happy.
What is new is that we’re also now getting complaints that our coffee isn’t “strong” enough. Our guess is that people who say that are mistaking bitterness for strength, as over-heating milk makes coffee bitter, not to mention that many cafes have their machine pressure too high to save time on frothing, which tends to burn the espresso. We take great pride that our espresso shots are smooth, but people seem to mistake that for being weak, assuming, perhaps, that a bitter coffee is a strong coffee.
Don’t get me wrong. Even with this ranting, we’re delighted when customers know what they like and dislike and speak up about it. We are in the business of pleasing people, and try our utmost to do so without snobbery or judgement, even if we disagree.
We also believe that there is a perfect drink for everybody. If it’s a strong coffee taste you’re after, a latte is probably not the right drink. A cafe au lait with dark French roast beans might be a much better choice.
However, although Ireland has come a long, long way in terms of coffee, I think we still have a long way to go before we can start lecturing Italians on how to make a cappuccino…
My brother Sean and I headed away last weekend for a conference put on at Brook Lodge in Wicklow by international chefs association, Eurotoques. The topic of the conference was on sustainability and agriculture. Speakers included Minister for State Trevor Sargent, Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Lorcan Cribbin of Bang Cafe, and Matt Cooper.
I met some old friends and acquaintances and had a great time. They laid on a barbeque for lunch, and in the evening we had a immense dinner at the Strawberry Tree, which is Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant. The meal was smashing, and Evan Doyle is a great host. Highly recommended!
This recipe, from this week’s Irish Times article, is a simple way of enjoying great quality chocolate and ice cream together. It is designed to form an unsweetened hard crust on ice cream, and I suggest vanilla, so you don’t have competing flavours. The butter is simply to make the chocolate less brittle…
Gourmet Chocolate Crust
- 100g high quality, dark chocolate
- 10g (2 teasp) unsalted butter
What to do:
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or microwave.
- Stir until fully combined.
- Pour over vanilla ice cream.
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