I have mentioned before that since moving to Ireland, I am more aware than ever of the seasons, the changing shift of the weather and its impact on the food we eat, the lifestyle we lead and of course the prevailing quota of petulance amongst Dubliners, amid which I include myself. When the sun is shining, I really believe there is nowhere on Earth like
. It is like living in a movie filmed in three-strip Technicolor: bare legs emerge from months of opaque tight wearing, the evenings stretch into a fantasy of beer gardens, lemony chicken charred on the BBQ served with hoppy pale ales and birds stop only short of cheerfully flitting in through open windows to assist with bed making, floor sweeping and general household upkeep. Dublin
For the first 20 or so years of my life, I passed little heed of the weather, simply because in Perth it was generally warm and sunny, interrupted occasionally by a milder day where pots of soup, stews and casseroles were made, only to be consigned to the back of the freezer for later consumption and invariably discarded once the warm weather returned and the precious freezer real estate was required for such essentials as frozen glasses and popsicles. Now living in
, I have a new-found gratitude for clear blue skies. We have been blessed with the summer so far this year and while there have been a number of Dublin deluges drizzly days this past week, they serve only to highlight how great an Irish Summer is when it actually performs properly. No light without darkness and all that. On a more indulgent note, the colder weather has also given me an excuse to gorge myself on our new slow-roasted pork belly at Mulligans and get one last wear out of my unsightly but ‘just-the-right-side-of-ironic-for-2010’ chartreuse coloured tights.
My summer so far has been characterised by three things, all of which have made my heart exceedingly happy: the first is the seemingly never ending ritual of upholstering, sourcing suppliers and refurbishing L. Mulligan Grocer, (regrettably absent of avian assistance, cheerful or otherwise). The process is slow, meandering and personal, we have so many aspirations for the place, so many plans we are trying to get to, some which seem frustratingly just out of reach at the moment but the process, while painstaking is a lovely journey. I need to learn patience, which was never my virtue.
The second is the quiet, creeping revolution that is happening beneath
’s recession-weary surface. More people than ever are getting involved in projects, events, collaborations that are creative, quirky and passion-driven: Beoir, Chaos Thaoghaire, Doctor Sketchy’s, The Anti-room, Streetfeast, Imen’s locavore dinners and Sedition Industries to name a few. Despite the gloom, the never-ending dour predictions Henny Penny-like that the sky shall fall, there is an overt energy, an attitude that things can be better, different. There is room now for people to do things they love, and that excite them. I am proud of what is happening, proud to be part of it. Ireland
Thirdly, ‘Summer 2010: ‘neen’s Best Summer Ever’ has been fueled mostly by Murphy’s ice-cream, now that two shops have opened in
. I defy anyone to taste their sea-salt icecream without a wistful sigh of happiness. It is the taste of nostalgia, a holiday, the sea side, of melting soft-serve washed away by the ocean. The shops are lovely spaces: bright, airy and distinctively Irish. Since they opened three weeks ago I have treated their Temple Bar store as a regular Dublin asylum stopover on my thrice daily trips between my office and the pub, most of the time for a ‘sample’ of their sea-salt ice-cream, the small spoonful being just enough to sate my longing. Thinking about this, tomorrow I am going in to the shop to pay for an ice-cream in lieu of all the samples patiently doled out by the lovely Murphers and Murphettes. It threatens to dethrone chocolate chip mint, which cameos in the Eels song 'Spunky' as my all time winning ice-cream flavour. Some time ago the eponymous Kieran Murphy, who boils down Dingle sea water himself to make the heavenly ice-cream was kind enough to twit me advice as I struggled to make ice-cream without a machine. The result is below, delicately minty, stippled with dark chocolate and capable of inciting wistful sighs of its own.
Chocolate Chip Mint Ice-cream
Inspired by Kieran Murphy and Darina Allen.
4 large egg yolks
½ cup caster sugar
1 cup of water
½ cup of mint leaves
750 mL (3 cups) cream
Heavy bottomed saucepan
Large bowl for preparation
Large, freezer proof bowl for freezing
Slightly bruise the mint leaves.
Leave to steep in the cream overnight in the fridge.
Beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy. (I use the whites for bulking out omelettes). Combine the sugar with the water in a the saucepan.
Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches 223–235°F: it will look thick and syrupy, and when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads.
Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, beating all the time by hand.
Continue to beat the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.
Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, using no more than 40 or so strokes to combine then pour into a bowl, cover, and freeze.
Freeze for two hours, and then gently stir through the chocolate. Return to freezer to set.
This is best served when removed from the freezer 20 minutes or so before serving.