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).
Tagged: caroline hennessy
If you’re interested in cheese, particularly of the Irish variety, it’s worth picking up this month’s edition of Food & Wine Magazine for a series of profiles of Ireland’s leading cheese makers, a piece by Sheridan’s Cheesemongers‘ Dan Fennelly on how cheese changes with the seasons, recipes from the Ballymaloe matriarch Myrtle Allen and the best accompaniments for a plateful of cheeses. Read restaurant reviews of Dublin’s Café Úna, a truffle orgy at the K Club and Conor favourite Boqueria tapas bar in Cork. You can have your own say on the discussion forums at editor Ernie Whalley’s own Fork’n’Cork website. For fans of goat’s cheese, there’s a piece on Tom Biggane, maker of the very special Clonmore Goat’s Cheese from Newtown in North Cork written by, ahem, one Caroline Hennessy. April’s Food & Wine Magazine – in the shops now!
In the Irish Times Magazine last Saturday there was a feature on Country Choice‘s Peter Ward. Prestigious American foodie magazine Saveur is about to publish an edition extolling the virtues of Ireland’s artisanal food industry. One of the people mentioned in their “detailed who’s who of artisanal food in Ireland” is Peter, who has brought Saveur editor Colman Andrews to Nenagh several times over the last few years. Coleman celebrated the St Patrick’s weekend by coming to Ireland to cook with Peter and his wife, Mary, at a Slow Food Seasonal Irish Spring Produce meal in Country Choice and he has now marked Ireland as a destination for “gastrotourists”. All I’ll say is that they’re in for a lot of disappointment if they go anywhere off the trail as marked out by Georgina Campbell and the McKennas‘ good food guides.
One of the big advantages of being settled back in Dublin, with book shelves once again, is having all my old cookbooks to pore over and rediscover. Although I did manage to build up a fair collection in New Zealand, it couldn’t really compare to my beloved older stacks of books by Nigel Slater, Darina Allen, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson and my ancient copies of the Paula Daly-written McDonnell’s Cook Books. The first and second books in this series, bought from saving up the tokens on Stork Margarine packets, were two of the first cookbooks owned by my mother.
As I finished up at work on Friday, I suddenly, as I looked out into the showery evening, got a yearning for gingerbread. No fancy stuff, I just wanted a damp and aromatically spicy loaf, the sort of teabread that would go perfectly with a cup of tea on a weather-swept Saturday. When I was younger, this kind of longing would be easily satisfied with a squashed loaf in a packet that said “Jamaica Gingerbread” but now, with a well-stocked baking cupboard, spur-of-the-moment cooking decisions aren’t too much of a problem.
Although the huge green-lipped New Zealand monsters nearly put me off mussels for life – too big and way too chewy! – last week I tried cooking Irish mussels for the first time. Coming home from work one evening I nipped in to a local shop called Donnybrook Fair to pick up some essential supper supplies. Walking past the seafood counter down the back, a big sack of navy-shelled mussels caught my eye, along with the price – €2.99 a kilo. Instantly, all thoughts of cheese on toast went out the window as I got a kilo of the mussels, picking up a length of crusty French bread and a bottle of sauvignon blanc en route to the checkout.
As charity cookbooks go, Real Food for Real People is a real gem. The book is part of a fundraising drive for Moneystown National School’s building fund and was produced and published by the Parents’ Committee in this County Wicklow village. But, even though Real Food for Real People was evidentially done on a shoestring, the design quality still shines out. Illustrated mainly with children’s drawings and photos, and scattered with quotations from, amongst others, Shakespeare and Lenin, it is a simple and well laid-out book.
After making Nic‘s Buttermilk Pancakes twice in the last ten days, I just have to sing their praises here. They take minutes to put together, don’t involve getting out the weighing scales (just use the cup measurements), are easy to cook, and – if you’re on a weekend away – the dry ingredients sit happily together in a zip-locked baggie until you choose to combine them with the buttermilk, butter and egg. Most importantly, they turn out delectable, light, fluffy, American-style thick pancakes without having to resort to a mix. We ate them this morning with oodles of fragrant organic maple syrup from Nenagh’s wonderful Country Choice deli, grilled rashers of bacon and, in my case, a little extra butter to further lubricate the sweet/savoury combination taste combination.