Have you ever been to Dingle? Despite the best of intentions over the years – and the Husband visiting there regularly since he moved to Ireland – it’s taken me quite a while to get round to visiting. But, when there’s a pot of Murphys’ Ice Cream at the end of the trip, how can you resist?
The sun shone for our drive there as we toasted pleasantly in the car, admiring the strand at Inch and the fact that we could see right across Dingle Bay. Scenary looks much more pleasant in sunlight, somehow. The tourists that wandered around the town had an air – not often seen this summer – of satisfaction, of being perfectly happy to briefly visit a few shops before getting back to the wilds and views, unlike last week’s bedraggled lost-looking wanderers in Kenmare. And everywhere you walked there was someone eating ice cream. Ice cream in cones, ice cream in small blue tubs, groups of people standing outside Murphys’ Ice Cream shop, swapping tastes of their chosen scoops, old couples walking on the sea front, making sure they didn’t lose any last drops of their ice cream and ice cream all over babies’ faces.
So, you make your way to the distinctively blue and white shop for your own ice cream – but which one? Will you go for an old-school classic like Vanilla or Chocolate, something with a bit more texture – Honeycomb, Cookies and Cream, perhaps? – or will you have to go straight for the latest unusual flavour that’s arrived behind the counter: Guinness and Chocolate, anyone? Maybe the best way of deciding is to try them all – and then there’s the small matter of figuring out which coffee or hot chocolate to drink, whether you actually need to buy a slice of one of the delectable cakes on offer and how many different bars of Valrhona chocolate you need to take home with you when you reluctantly leave. Whole days can be lost here.
Kieran Murphy – for the man who makes the ice cream is always the best judge of how to eat it – persuaded me, not with too much difficulty, into trying an Affogato al Caffè. A shot of espresso over a scoop of chocolate whiskey ice cream: can you think of a better way of getting a caffine hit? It’s a sophisticated take on an ice cream float, just for grown-ups, as long as the kids don’t see it while you’re gobbling. And then a little later, to finish, it’s time for an Extreme Hot Chocolate. Kieran told me it was very healthy, not at all heavy, made with cocoa, and served wth a dollop of cream on the top to balance it all out. Try it – and then see if you can leave without the Ghirardelli cocoa that they use to make it. See? I’m a sucker. And Kieran is a bad influence. One large 1lb tub of the cocoa – after all they do have a Chocolate Frosting and a Brownies recipe on the back – and a box of 70% chocolate (for cooking with, I swear!) and I finally tear myself away. But I’ll be back – after tasting a few of Mexican ideas in production for the Dingle Food Festival I’m not sure I could stay away.