Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category
Here at Ice Cream Ireland, we’re fans of Valentine’s Day, which is coming up fast. Love is always a good thing to celebrate, and loved ones can always use the extra attention. Besides, any tradition that involves eating chocolates is a tradition I can happily get behind.
So what is Valentine’s Day anyway? A bit of history:
The Romans Know How to Party
Valentine’s Day is probably based upon the Roman holiday of Lupercalia, a fesitival celebrating the Goddess Juno Februa. The name probably comes from Lupus (wolf in Latin) in honour of the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, who are credited with founding the city. It is said that one of the traditions including men randomly picking love poems (written by women) from an urn, and thereby selecting their partner for the duration of the festival.
The Church Has a Better Idea
In 496, Pope Gelasius I declared the 14th of February a feast day in honour of St. Valentine. Which Valentine is a bit of a mystery, as there were at least three St. Valentines, at least two two of whom are thought to have been martyred on February 14th (possibly the most important of the three was a Gnostic Christian in Alexandria, who wrote and preached about love).
One of the most prevelant stories about St. Valentines is that he was imprisoned and martyred for perfoming Christian weddings after they were banned by Emperor Claudius II. Another story is that the daughter of his jailor fell in love with him after he miraculously restored her sight, and when Valentine was being led off to his martyrdom he left her a little note, naturally ending “…from your Valentine.”
St. Valentine: An Irish Angle
The relics of one of the St. Valentines (Valentine of Rome) were given by the Holy See in 1836 to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, where they are stored.
Or Is the Day Norwegian?
In Norway, this time of year is dedicated to the god Vali, son of Odin, and called ‘Lios-beri’ or light bringing. Vali was worshipped as an archer and said to be the awakener of tender thoughts and the patron of lovers.
Chaucer makes it literary
In 1382, Chaucer made the first literary romantic reference to Valentine’s Day in his “Parlement of Foules.” He wrote, “For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [chose] his make [mate].”
Romance? Has to be the French
The earliest surviving Valentine’s is a poem by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife, written while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Who Made It About Chocolate?
The first Valentine’s chocolates were marketed in a heart-shaped box by Richard Cadbury in 1861. Solid chocolate as we know it was a recent invention at the time!
Top 5 Romantic Tips from Ice Cream Ireland
1. Spice Things Up: Make the Aztec Hot Chocolate. Both chocolate and chilli peppers are generally thought to be aphrodisiacs.
2. Go Over the Top: Champagne Sorbet will always get a bit of attention. Serve it with fresh fruit or chocolates.
4. Feeling Saucy? Make some chocolate sauce. Use it to dunk fresh strawberries. Of course there are other uses for chocolate sauce, but that is none of my business!
5. Chat them up: Take time for a romantic chat over a cup of coffee. Naturally, bring out the chocolates. For an extra bit of sweetness with your coffee, try an affogato.
Happy Christmas, everybody. The photo was just in case you were wondering what an ice cream man does on Christmas day in Dingle (besides hang out with the family and eat). There was a huge crowd for the charity swim. Even my mother joined us in the December waterÂ - on the day after her 70th birthday!
Â I haven’t really been ready and able for Christmas until today. There are always so many last minute things to wrap upÂ before the holidaysÂ andÂ so much ice cream to deliver and re-deliver to shops.
However, I took a bit of time this afternoon to see a Christmas play put on by the Dingle Camphill Community, and that brought out the Christmas spirit.
People with special needs can really open the heart, and such was the case with their performance. It was delightful.
TheÂ play was a medieval pageant about the shepherds coming to the manger, and each special needs person had a minder to help them through the lines and around the stage.
There was singing as well, and my brother and father helped with the music, my brother playing along on the guitar and my father on his concertina.
Thanks to all for a lovely performance.
I am in the mood now.
The excellent Ard Bia Cafe in Galway asked for a mulled wine sorbet for their Christmas menu, so I set about making it. It’s quite a nice flavour, and if you’re looking for a holiday ice cream to add spice to a meal, give it a go!
The easiest way to make it is to use left-over mulled wine (stir 350gm sugar into 950ml mulled wine until dissolved, allow to cool, freeze), but if you don’t have that kind of restraint, here’s a recipe from scratch:
Murphys Mulled Wine Sorbet
360 gr Sugar
600 ml Spring Water
350 ml Red Wine (I used Merlot)
225 ml Fresh Orange Juice
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablesp. Cinnamon
1/2 teasp. Nutmeg
Yield: 8 Servings
What to do:
1. Combine the sugar, water, wine and spices and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 1/2 hour, maintaining at a low simmer.
2. Strain to remove the cloves.
3. Cool completely.
4. Stir in the orange juice and lemon.
5. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer, stirring at 1 hr intervals to break up the ice.
6. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw four about 15 minutes before freezing.
7. Serve garnished with a slice of orange.
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 ice! The more times you do this, the better the consistency will be.
2. I think it looks well served in small wine glasses.
Simon from Tuppenceworth and my brother have been asking for a hot chocolate made with cocoa, so I finally got around to creating one for the shops. The basic idea for this recipe comes from the Swiss cantone Ticino, where my grandmother retired, and a very old Swiss recipe book that is long out of print. I’ve made variations to suit my love of full-on chocolate, and this is not for the faint-hearted! However, it does make a thick, spiced chocolate that is perfect for a Winter’s night in by the fire, or as a great addition to a holiday meal.
Murphys Cacao del Ticino
125 g cocoa (unsweetened)
225 gm sugar
1/2 teasp. cinnamon
Zest of one orange
2 drops almond essence
1. Mix the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest.
2. Add the milk in small parts, stirring to create a paste, then diluting the paste until the milk and cocoa mix are combined. Add the almond essence.
3. Pour into a saucepan and place the over medium heat, stirring all the timeÂ until it reaches 60-65C.
4. Strain to remove the orange zest.
5. Garnish with grated chocolate and/or whipped cream and enjoy!
1. If you find it too strong, you can always dilute it with more milk.
2. The amount of sugar will vary depending on the chocolate. Obviously you can add more if you want it sweeter.
3. Beware the almond essence. It is very volatile. Don’t use too much!
Ok, call me a little crazy here, but I’ve had it in my head to make an ice cream snowman for a while, using our vanilla ice cream and chocolate. Since there is a Festive Food Fair over at Morsels and Musings, I thought this might be a good entry, although it’s not exactly a recipe…
Still, it would make a nice (though quickly melting) centrepiece to a holiday dinner dessert course or even individual desserts if you want to make a full project of it. So here’s how I made my snowman:
1. I melted down about 100 grams of 70% chocolate and used a spoon to fashion the buttons, arms, mouth, and pipe. I used a flexible baking sheet, but you could also use baking paper. Wait until its completely cold before using a knife to separate it from the sheet. Handle the pieces as little as possible, or they will melt – body temperature is higher than the melting point of chocolate!
2. The hats I made by spreading the chocolate in a circle for the brim, then cutting a chocolate truffle in half and placing it on top. Finally, I coated the chocolate truffle with some of the melted chocolate.
3. I put a saucer in the freezer to make it good and cold (or the ice cream will melt as soon as it hits it!)
4. I scooped three scoops of vanilla ice cream onto the saucer to make the snowman. I pushed a plastic spoon into the body to give it a spine and help keep it together before I put on the final scoop (the head). I then put the snowman back in the freezer to harden it before decoration.
5. I decorated it with the chocolate shapes I made, the bottom tip of an ice cream cone for the nose, a bit of red ribbon for the scarf, and put it back in the freezer. That’s it!
Ok - you might expect Christmas music in New York shops by this time of year. The residents of that fair city have always been unashamed about getting jump on Christmas shopping, which is perhaps one of the reasons for the multitudes of Irish heading over there for their Christmas gifts and goodies. For all I know the music has started up in Dublin and Cork as well.
However, in Dingle it’s always been more relaxed – not much bother until a last-minute-panic spree of spending on the 23rd of December (definitely my modus operandi). The early birds around here tend to head to the aforementioned New York, Dublin, or Cork for stocking stuffers, leaving the rest of us in a happy state of denial.
So it was definitely surprising to wander in on a thriving Christmas fair in scenic Dunquin in the hallowed halls of the Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhoir (the Blasket Centre) before we’ve even reached the middle of November.
Maybe the Christmas fair has always been so early in Dunquin, and I certainly can be absent-minded about such things. But for me it’s far too early to think about Christmas shopping when I’m still munching my way through the leftover Halloween candy!
The music was from Maire Begley’s Chrismas DVD, which is definitely a good gift, and there were lots of cute kids selling baked goods as well as vendors with the usual candles, pottery, and woodwork. But I fled without so much as chewing a mince pie.
For me, it’s just to early! (For everyone else, the fair is also on tomorrow).
Â Although my parents cat, Folly,Â has time to laze around on the boat, we’ve been completely manic here in the world of ice cream. The August Bank Holiday is this weekend, and the shops are packed with people. Please forgive my lack of blogging, but I’m in the thick of things trying to keep it all going!
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