We’ve been driven demented by all the requests, and we do listen. So… sea salt ice cream is going to make a reappearance in our shops for a couple of weeks, starting with this weekend. After that, I think we’ll do a pink peppercorn ice cream for winter. So… if you loved the sea salt, get it while stocks last!
Before I start, I have to say that my time in London was extrememly limited, since I couldn’t resist the chance of going up to Stafford to visit Has Bean on my only full day, and I’ll write more on that later. That meant there were loads of places I missed, and I was very sorry for it! I had some mediocre coffee as well, which I wont go into, but here are the coffee shops that I visited and think are worth a mention:
Prufrock (140 Shoreditch High St., in a men’s clothing shop called “Present.” The outside sign says “Golden Horn Cigarette Company.”) That address already should give a bit of an idea – to me this seemed to be more about the barista – the extraordinarily capable Gwilym Davies (World Barista Champion, 2009) – than the customer. The machine was of the hand-pulled variety, the care and attention to detail on the coffees was very high, and my espresso was excellent.
While I hugely applaud thinking outside the box in terms of business models, you should know that the only seating is a bench outside, there wasn’t any interaction to speak of, and you feel a bit in the way since you’re in a clothing shop. Also, all that care and attention means service is very slow – I think five separate people peeled off the queue in front of me while I was waiting – clearly their impatience overrode their desire for quality. A bit of banter from the barista might have kept them, but for me, even without it, the coffee was worth the wait…
Monmouth Coffee (I visited 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden and 2 Park Street, The Borough). There’s something about the Covent Garden shop I utterly love, and I’m not sure entirely what it is. Perhaps it’s that you can feel the history of 40 years of roasting in the place, and although it’s quite basic and cramped in terms of seating, it feels very comfortable and extraordinarily pleasant. The coffee was very good, the service was friendly and full of smiles. Definitely my kind of place! There are a huge range of beans to try, and some tasty sweet snacks.
I didn’t have coffee in the Borough Market location (photo). I have never seen a queue for coffee that long anywhere in the world. It was mobbed – I’d say there were at least 50 people waiting (photo top), and I had a plane to catch!
Milk Bar (3 Bateman Street, Soho). If it’s an Antipodean coffee shop you’re after, check out the Milk Bar. It’s long on attitude, but they served a good flat white. I didn’t get to try anything else. There’s food as well, if you need a nibble.
Kaffeine (66 Great Titchfield St., not far from Oxford Circus). Another Australian-accented place. I love that they use organic milk. Nice vibe, good coffee. I wanted to go back for an espresso, but somehow they closed earlier than I expected (6pm).
Fernandez & Wells (73 Beak St., Soho). I absolutely loved this place – great coffee and a few carefully selected food and drink offerings that were just random enough to excite – a big bowl of grapefruits for juicing, Macroom oatmeal, etc. The love, passion and care in the place is abundantly obvious. Friendly service as well. If I lived in the area, it would definitely be my local. They have a food and wine bar as well that I would love to go back and visit.
Dose (69 Long Lane, City). If you find yourself in the City, you could do much worse than seek out Dose. They had excellent coffee, and I found it an excellent stop for both an espresso and latte to boost myself up for my flight back home. It was Saturday morning, and it had a steady trade with a very relaxed mood. I don’t know if it gets crazy during the week, but I hope so for them, because it’s a place that deserves to do well.
Again, there were more I would have liked to visit, so this isn’t a comprehensive list!
The last few weeks have been very stressful, and I’ve been working far too hard, but yesterday was such a beautiful day in West Kerry that I couldn’t help taking some time off and heading for Doonshean Beach with Manuela and Róisín. What a wise move. It was utterly magic!
Róisín has absolutely no fear of the sea (or of cold water) and it was all we could do to drag her away when we started worrying she was getting too cold. Here are a couple of videos, and I apologise that I forgot to hold my iPhone sideways!
The first shows her love affair with the water:
Her tastes are also a bit eccentric, and here’s what she had as a snack:
I’m in London at the moment for a whistle stop coffee tour, armed with a coffee map and tips from the ever-helpful Colin Harmon. So far the highlight has been Monmouth Coffee Co (photo above), mostly for having such a good vibe in the shop, but a round up will have to wait until I’m done!
Tomorrow, I’m off to Stafford to visit Has Bean, and I’m really looking forward to that!
Before I left, I had one of the most interesting conversations on coffee in a long time, with both Colin and Stephen Morrisey, who is a World Barista Champion and currently Marketing Director of Intelligentsia in the US (photo right).
It’s so brilliant to spend time with two Irish people who are at the forefront of coffee and who are both so knowledgable and also interested in learning more. Their passion is infectious.
I feel very lucky, and my head feels very full.
Hopefully a lot of what I’m learning will make it into an article I’m writing, so please be patient and I’ll get it all down!
This year, for the Dingle Food and Wine Festival, we’re not going gourmet with some of the unusual flavour arrays we’ve done in the past. Instead, we’re going to do something that’s very delicious and simple – ice cream cookies!
We’ll serve them with a glass of Kerry cow milk that we’ll get straight off our farmer and pasteurise. We’ll also do a mini Kerry cow milkshake.
I hope those of you who make it to the festival enjoy it, and I do hope you’ll make it. It’s really one of the best times to be in Dingle, and there’s certainly no shortage of things to do and eat!
If you want to make these ice cream sandwiches at home, here’s how to do it:
Murphys Ice Cream Cookies
1. Make my chocolate chip cookie recipe (here).
2. Wait until the cookies are cool.
3. Spread a half scoop of vanilla ice cream (we’ll use Kerry cow ice cream, but vanilla is close!) on the flat side of one cookie.
4. Spread a half scoop of chocolate ice cream (or dark chocolate ice cream) on the flat side of a second cookie.
5. Press the two cookies together.
6. Put them in the freezer to harden (if the ice cream is too soft, it will be much harder to eat it).