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.
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.
Listening to Winter Food the other day I heard an interview with Sean and Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle. They take presenter Clodagh McKenna through the making of their fabulous ice cream, telling her about local milk, flavourings and types of ice cream (Mango and Chilli – is that exported outside the Kingdom?!), taking her into a freezer room piled high with their produce – brioscaí (Cookies and cream), caramal (Honeycomb), bó bhán (Irish cream liqueur), fanaile (French vanilla) – and treating her, much to Clodagh’s delight, to sú craobh or Raspberry Sorbet. And don’t forget their seacláid – “chocolate, always chocolate’, as Kieran says several time during the interview. No secrets where his heart lies, especially if you check out his blog at Ice Cream Ireland and his decadent recipe for Hot Chocolate.
Last Friday, over a glass of wine and some nibbles at a city centre tapas bar, the Boyfriend – after WEEKS of mystery – handed me my passport and…a guidebook for Paris! He had told me that we were going away for the weekend, we would be spending time in a city and that I had to pack for cold weather. Despite lots of guessing – I thought Galway, or maybe Belfast – I hadn’t even come close to figuring out where we were going.
Irish Food: Slow & Traditional by John and Sally McKenna & Irish Food: Fast & Modern by Paul Flynn and Sally McKenna ***
Although these wee cookbooks are small – just 64 pages – they are beautifully formed. The Irish Food books are from the same stable that produces the Bridgestone Top 100 guides to restaurants and places to stay, as well as the Irish Food Guide – Sally and John McKenna’s Estragon Press – they are well worth investing in, and at €3 apiece, they won’t break the bank.
Saturday night dinner for friends staying over meant a late night, a not-so-hurried rise on Sunday morning and a similarly delayed breakfast. We badly needed to blow the cobwebs away so we drove down to Brittas Bay for a long walk in the surprisingly warm sunshine (and a brief snooze on the beach!). When we arrived back in the car about 3pm, lunchless, the Boyfriend and I were hungry as hunters. Driving back to Dublin we took the opportunity to turn off the N11 into the branch of Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue. Although initially rather daunted by the long line of lunch-ing and afternoon tea-ing visitors, we were distracted by a blackboard full of intriguing choices. By the time we had decided on dishes, we were almost at the top of the queue and gazing at the generously stocked salad display. More decisions had to be made.