Bridgestone Food Guide 2010

We have received a box of the new Bridgestone Food Guide for our shops, and John & Sally McKenna’s book is a must for anyone who loves Irish food. I’m not just saying this because we’re still blushing here at the write up of our shops (photo above). This is the most comprehensive list of the best of Irish foods (by a long way), with where to go and what to find in all parts of the country. The work that went into this was clearly immense, and it’s written with love, care and dedication.

I suggest you order it immediately. Better still, hie yourself down to your local bookshop and pick up a copy. From the sound of it, Irish bookshops need all the help they can get.

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Making Sea Salt

One of our new ice creams for our new flavour array is sea salt ice cream, and I got to wondering how it would taste with salt made from our local Dingle sea water. So, the other day I decided to make salt.

It started with a trip to the beach, which is never a bad thing, especially on a sunny day. I took along the partner and the little one, and we made an afternoon of it.

Róisín is a bit too young to be interested in the science part of making salt, but she sure loved the fresh air and looking at the waves.

I’m thinking kids a bit older would enjoy such a project and would be quite amazed to see solid white crystals appearing out of a clear liquid, though they would need a bit of patience. If you want to try it, here’s what I did.

How to Make Sea Salt

1. I started with 5 litres of Dingle sea water (note – make sure the area where you get your water is clean and free from pollution).

2. I passed the water through a coffee filter to make sure there was no sand or tiny bits of seaweed.

3. I boiled the water in a large pot until the salt had begun to crystalise and there was about an inch of liquid left (you might need to scrape the bottom of the pot now and then as the salt begins to form). This takes several hours and produces a lot of steam!

4. I turned off the heat and left it uncovered to evaporate overnight. I don’t know if this is necessary, but I didn’t want to burn the salt by mistake.

5. In the morning, the water was gone, but the salt was still moist. I spread it on a baking tray and put it in the oven at 100C for an hour, at which point the salt was dry.

6. That’s it! The yield was about 200 grams of Dingle sea salt (photo top)!

The salt has quite an interesting flavour – more delicate than I would have thought. You can taste the mineral content, and it oddly has a hint of sweetness. Now, I’ll have to turn it into ice cream!

P.S. I was just informed by a science teacher that if you dangle a string into the boiling seawater, once it’s reduced a bit, maybe attached to a rod that can sit on the pot and with a weight tied on the end in the water, that the salt crystals grow on the string. That might have more dramatic effect if you’re making it with kids. I’ll try it next time.

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Simplicity – In a Complex Kind of Way

We’ve decided to try out the deconstruction idea in our Dingle and Killarney shops. We’ll see how it goes for a few weeks and hopefully then expand it across the business if all parties agree it’s a good idea.

Again, the idea is to have simpler flavours and then sell them in pairs. The flavours will be designed to go together, so that two simple flavours, when paired and served together, will create a complex flavour (such as sea salt + caramel = salty caramel, or raspberry sorbet + Kerry cream = raspberry cream, etc). Hopefully it will make for a more exciting, customisable ice cream experience, although people will still be able to have a single flavour if that’s all they wish to have.

We’ve already started the process by switching over some flavours and changing others. Here will be the 16 spring flavours:

  1. Vanilla
  2. Dark Chocolate
  3. Chocolate Chip
  4. Honeycomb
  5. Raspberry Sorbet
  6. Kerry Cream
  7. Burnt Caramel
  8. Chocolate
  9. Coffee, Guinness, or Brown Bread
  10. Kilbeggan Whiskey
  11. Sea Salt
  12. Cookies
  13. Baileys
  14. Rum Raisin
  15. Mint
  16. Strawberry

We haven’t yet made all of them, but we have made the sea salt and Kerry cream, and so far customers really seem to be loving those two! The sea salt ice cream, though weird on its own, is a delight with caramel or dark chocolate, and the Kerry cream is such a pure flavour that goes with just about anything.

It’s a work in progress.

Master Class at Dublin Food and Wine Fair

For anyone interested, I’ll be at the Food and Wine Christmas Fair at the RDS in Dublin, giving an ice cream master class tomorrow (Saturday) at 4:45pm.

I’ll go over the following recipes:

I’ll also try to answer any ice cream questions. Hope to see you there!

Good Mood Food Launch

Donal, one of the best Irish food bloggers, is launching his new cookbook next Wednesday, and I’ve taken the liberty of re-posting the invite above from Mercier press. Donal’s invited all of his readers, so I hope he won’t mind that I’ve widened the net a bit. Besides, Mr. Mulley has spread the word a lot further than I can!

I won’t be able to make it, since I’ll be in Venice :), but I highly recommend you check out his blog so that you can see why this is a book I’m highly looking forward to getting my hands upon!

So, if you can make it, say hi to Donal from me! If you can’t, buy the book and support an Irish foodie.

Irish Food Producers – Deadline Looming!

Just a note to Irish food producers – if you wish to enter the 2009 Blas na hEireann awards, the deadline for sending in your application is September 11th.

You can download it here.

If you’re not an Irish food producer but know one making excellent products, please spread the word! I’m sure they could use a bit of recognition.

Wikio’s Top Gastronomy Rankings

This list came to my attention via Cottage Smallholder who posted a list of the top UK and Irish blogs as ranked by Wikio for August, 2009. I thought it might be fun to pass it on, since there are many blogs on the list that are new to me (as well as a few of my favourites), and I hope you enjoy them!

1. The Guardian – Word of Mouth

2. Food Stories

3. Ambrosia and Nectar

4. Hollow Legs

5. eat like a girl

6. spittoonextra

7. A Slice of Cherry Pie

8. Cheese and Biscuits

9. World Foodie Guide


11. The Foodie List

12. Londonelicious

13. Domestic Goddess in Training

14. Dinner Diary

15. Cherrapeno

16. Antics of a cycling cook

17. Thring for Your Supper

18. London Eater

19. Joanna’s Food

20. Greedy Gourmet

21. Intoxicating Prose

22. Kavey Eats

23. Annes Kitchen

24. Chocablog

25. Crumbs and Doilies Cupcakes blog

26. Ice Cream Ireland

27. Baking Cakes Galore

28. Coffee and Vanilla

29. Culinary Travels Of A Kitchen Goddess

30. The London Review of Breakfasts

31. Becks & Posh

32. An American in London

33. The Cottage Smallholder

34. Good Food Shops

35. Gastronomy Domine

Ranking by Wikio.