Coffee and cookies

Tara Breen's Tropical Oatmeal Cookie Last week I was running for a film preview screening at 10.30am but, in dire need of caffeine, I took a few minutes to grab a take-away coffee at the Butlers Irish Chocolate Café on Henry Street. I’ve been a huge fan of these cafés ever since they opened in Dublin – not so much for the coffee that they serve, but for the free chocolate that you get alongside it! It’s a great way to test your way through the range but, although I had carefully studied the display and chosen a double chocolate chocolate for later consumption, at that moment in time I needed something a little more filling. There was a tempting-looking display of muffins, brownies and cookies and, nestled amidst them, a large, simple oatmeal cookie. Always a fan of the oatmeal cookie, I added one of those to my order and legged it down the street to Screen 1 in the Savoy and the Tristan and Isolde preview (not great, don’t bother).

The lights went down as I walked in the cinema so I found a seat and settled myself, my coat, scarf, bag and carefully balanced coffee into place. Then, after a lot of rustling and digging for the cookie in my bag, I was finally organised. As the action unfolded (very slowly) on screen I concentrated on my coffee and the surprisingly good cookie. Moist and chewy, it had a vague ginger and cinnamon flavour and was studded with what I first took to be sultanas but, as I encountered more of the dried fruity nuggets, I realised that they, thankfully, didn’t have that fruit’s insipid sweetness. In the end, I never got to find out what the fruit was as the cookie was munched down to it’s last crumb long before the lights came up and allowed any closer examination.

Later in the week, while taking a look at RTÉ’s Nationwide website, I watched a feature on Tara Breen, who has gone, in a few short years, from making a few loaf cakes at the kitchen table to a staff of 15 and sales of €1m with her successful Tara’s Handmade Quality Foods company. Browsing about on her site, I solved the question of those unknown fruit bits. Tara supplies Butlers Cafés with cookies and slices and my morning treat was her Tropical Oatmeal Cookie, packed full of goodness – organic oatmeal, free range eggs – and razz cherries! I had never come across them before but razz cherries, or Razzcherries, are cherries soaked in raspberry flavouring and then dehydrated. Unusual – and very tasty. Apparently they are available in the US and in New Zealand, although I can’t say I ever remember coming across them. Razz cherries or no, it’s great to see some decent sweet things available in Irish cafés. If they can’t be bothered to make their own slices, muffins and cookies – like many New Zealand cafés do – the least they can do is source some decent products.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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5 Responses

  1. kieran says:

    It is good to see a few decent baked goods around the place. Wicklow Fine Foods has a few winners as well. In general, though, commercial baking of sweet things seems to be a part of the Irish culinary scene stuck in the “fifty years ago” time warp. We’ve pretty much given up on local outsourcing of treats for our shops, and instead other cafes and restaurants beg us for our own cakes, but we’re not really in that business! There is a market there, and I hope this is the start of some of those bakers out there doing something special!

  2. Caroline says:

    You’re right, Kieran. Having been disappointed so many times in the past, I only got the cookie because I was starving and I didn’t really have any high hopes for it…and then I bit into all that spicy oatmeai and razz cherry-yummyness! So, when you’re not there to make Choc Chip Cookies and Brownies, where do you get your cakes from?

    Aoife: check out the links to Kieran’s site for lots more mmmmmm-ness!

  3. Kieran says:

    We have a part-time baker (my brother’s German wife, actually). She does some fabulous cakes including a fab Sachertorte. She’s the real whiz about the place…BTW – I don’t know if you know it already, but I put a link on my site to “Food Porn Watch.” Sounds nasty but it has great food blogs and has generated a lot of hits for me since I was listed…

  4. Caroline says:’s all in the family – cake, cookies and ice cream – what more could you need?!

    Thanks for the tip about Food Porn Watch. I know that they have me listed but I’ve been avoiding putting a link on the site as my work net nanny is VERY sensitive and is not a fan of the p-word at all. I’ll look into it again.

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