With the unfamiliar sun putting on a show this past Sunday, it wasn’t a day to be spent indoors so the Boyfriend and I headed out to Dún Laoghaire for a walk. As we wandered along the seafront, I had to make the inevitable detour to the People’s Park for the Sunday market (check out Caitriona’s photos of a market in February here).
If you’re interested in learning about cooking, last week’s final RTÉ Winter Food radio programme focused on cookery schools in Ireland and abroad. I haven’t yet embarked on any cookery classes here but I very much enjoyed the few that I did in New Zealand at the Mediterranean Food Company and with cookery teacher extraordinaire Judith Cullen.
Ever since I’ve discovered the glories of butternut squash, there’s rarely a week goes by without it being added to a dish or several. As with pumpkin, I tend to use more Middle Eastern or Indian flavours in my squash dishes – cumin and coriander seeds are particular favourites – but, as it’s been a while since we’ve had a curry, I turned to the January edition of delicious. magazine for a recipe with more Asian leanings.
If there’s one thing nicer than Murphy’s Seacláid (chocolate) Ice Cream, eaten straight from the tub beside the fire (yep, it’s still cold in Ireland!), then it’s got to be that self same cold, intensely flavoured ice cream topped with great generous spoonfuls of creamy sweet/salty confiture de lait. Perfect for an Easter treat! Literally translated as milk jam, confiture de lait is a truly luxurious, indulgent toffee caramel sauce, similar to the Argentinean dulce de leche, and often used as a spread for bread, or even to sandwich cookies together.
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).
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.