Sometimes when you taste a beer, you just know what it’s destined for. Rich and smooth, with complex coffee and cocoa flavours, one sip of Russian Imperial Stout from the lads at the brewery and I knew I was heading straight to tiramisu territory. White chocolate tiramisu, to be precise. During the summer I became ever-so slightly obsessed with the White Chocolate and Pistachio Tiramisu from Sharon Hearne-Smith‘s brilliant No-Bake Baking (Quercus Publishing). It’s a no-fuss recipe, no palaver with separating eggs – my baking bête noire, I hate beating egg whites or having them left over afterwards – and, best of all, it’s a make-ahead desert which improves with time. I made many iterations of this caffeine and alcohol-soaked dish during the summer, tweaking the recipe slightly, and knew I was on to a winner when it became designated “too good for visitors” in my mother’s house. Come colder weather, and I didn’t think of tiramisu so often as my mind ran to free-form fruit tarts and shortbread and Christmas baking. That’s until I got my hands on the Russian Imperial Stout. Tiramisu was, undoubtedly, back on the agenda. Success! White chocolate & #RussianImperialStout tiramisu #gimmemore @8degreesbrewing A photo posted...read more
Category: Irish beer & cider
The beer/cider vs wine smackdown at Savour Kilkenny? There was some serious argie bargie going on in the lead up to the event, especially from my team of dastardly valiant opponents, Ballymaloe wine lecturer Colm McCan and Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau wine merchants in Kilkenny. It was a simple idea: we wanted to figure out what goes best with food. On the beer/cider side, I would say – of course – local beer and ciders; wine pros will always argue that wine is the better match. There was only one way of finding out. We had tastings of local food, each matched with a particular beer or cider, and a wine. Colm talked wine, I countered with beer and cider and the audience got to decide – using Colm’s highly questionable voting system. The smackdown started ever before we met on stage. Now what to pack for @SavourKilkenny Barrel, Decanter, Wine Bottle – oh, and beer #beervswine smackdown @Bibliocook pic.twitter.com/ab1DVwCcxj — Colm McCan (@colmmccan) October 24, 2014 But the boys didn’t have it all their own way. I called in support from the beer tent next door – hard to beat producers bringing in and talking about their own...read more
Writing a book takes you down many different roads – and many of them, fortunately for us, lead to the fabulous festivals that are taking place around the country. Last weekend, Kristin and I took Sláinte to the Dingle Food Festival where we held a workshop on food and Irish craft beers and cider in the little Dingle courthouse. I was seriously tempted to take the judge’s seat but, it being set above and apart from the rest of the courtroom, it wasn’t going to make pouring samples easy.I was ruled out of order, had to abandon my search for a gavel and stay on the floor in front of the jury/the workshop participants. Their verdict? Fortunately they found in our favour! A great mention for Slainte on @RTENationwide just now @edibleireland @Bibliocook pic.twitter.com/WA2STFBjSA — Aoife Ryan (@babaduck71) October 6, 2014 A Nationwide special on Irish craft beer and cider – who would have thought that would happen just a couple of years ago! – set the Twitter machine a-buzz on Monday, with a significant amount of coverage for September’s Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival at the RDS and Metalman’s Grainne and Tim. We were also excited to see...read more
The writing of Sláinte? That’s something that was mainly done in splendid isolation. When the girls were out of the house for preschool mornings, or late at night, with everyone else tucked up in bed, I sat at the computer and tap-tap-tapped away at the keyboard. It was written in short bursts, lots of them, when I just couldn’t justify doing any more interviews, ‘research’ or scrubbing the kitchen sink in an effort to stay away from the desk. The writing might have been done in isolation, but my co-author Kristin – working away in parallel up there in Co Louth – was always there, a touchstone, especially at the editing stage when it was not unusual for us to flick a couple of dozen emails back and forth each day. It makes the writing-a-book stage so much more bearable when there’s someone there to share the pain of chopping all that glorious prose (think too wordy, too long and not at all glorious!) or figure out the structure or re-count the every-increasing number of breweries. But it’s one thing to write a book – it’s a whole other sociable situation and incredible thrill to actually see it get out into the...read more
We have a cover. And a name. And – almost! – a book. That little project* that I mentioned way back in February? It’s so close to becoming something real, something tangible that Kristin and I can hold in our hands. After much debate, many emails and some Kristin-style inspiration, our book on Irish craft beer and cider has been named Sláinte. It’s an Irish toast to this brilliant new world of passionate producers, (ever-so-slightly) obsessive aficionados and the dedicated people behind those intriguing-looking bottles that you’re now able to find in your local bar, off licence and restaurant. It’s coming soon, this September, from New Island. Sláinte! (* obviously I was joking when I said ‘little’. Never let anyone tell you that writing a book is easy, even when you have The Best Co-Author in the world.)read more
Those of you who stop by here on a regular basis may have noticed a somewhat, shall we say, beery note to Bibliocook proceedings in the last few years. I blame New Zealand. After all, if I hadn’t lived there, it might have been a very long time before I realised just how good beer and food can be together. Or, if the Husband hadn’t been from NZ and had a yearning for the beer of his homeland, maybe he wouldn’t have started brewing his own. After all, homebrewing can lead you in very strange directions. One direction I really didn’t expect, as I negotiated my way through the mess in the kitchen, was that the Husband and the Aussie would go into business together and set up their own brewery. Nor did I expect it to be so much fun. I suddenly had an almost unlimited (unless it was the first batch of Amber-Ella) supply of a new ingredient on my hands to play with, a whole new world of brewers and cider makers to meet and lots to learn about being a small producer in a world of multinational brewers. From Galway Hooker to Trouble Brewing in Kildare, Cork’s...read more
Thinking of stocking up on a few beers for New Year? Or for some other celebrations over the next few days? Check out my recommendations below from an article I wrote for the Easy Food Christmas Annual.
In other beer news, I’ll be talking beer and food at the Kanturk Cookery School for their Manfood classes on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 February. Alongside some sampling, there will be discussion of food and beer matching and cooking with Irish craft beers. You can find out more about the classes from Barbara at 086 101 4532 and at www.kanturkcookeryschool.comread more
Melted cheese. Hot, bubbling, gloriously rich, fabulously molten melted cheese. From fondue, Irish-style, to Diana Henry’s Tartiflette or the simplest Tuna Melt, anything that involves cheese + heat is a wintertime winner at the cottage, especially with the recent cold snap.
Working on recipes for this week’s cookery demonstration at Bulgaden Castle, I decided to feature some Irish cheese. It was a cold day when I was looking at my Cooleeney brie and the oven was already on. I couldn’t resist. It had to be baked, served under a blanket of bitter-sweet caramel and crunchy pecan nuts – and half-eaten before anyone else got near it.read more