Sunday, August 31, 2008

amazing ardkeen

just a quick follow up from yesterday to say what a fantastic time i had demonstrating and tasting at ardkeen quality foodstore. the place is amazing; an independent supermarket packed full of diverse and delicious foods. i was seriously impressed by how much was irish sourced and often from the county, tomatoes, exotic mushrooms, fresh herbs, meat. everybody working there seemed to love the shop and their customers - i have never before seen such helpful, happy and knowledgeable staff in a supermarket, or many other shops for that matter!
and a special mention and thank you for bozena, my helper on the day. she was magnificent.
(sorry for the lack of pictures lately - i have mislaid the lead that attaches to my camera to my computer...)

Friday, August 29, 2008

wending our way to waterford

i will be at ardkeen foodstore in waterford tomorrow to demonstrate the noble art of truffle dipping, as well as dispensing tasters and advice!

i decided to make a weekend of it and brought the family along to discover the sunny south east, though the scenery and sunshine were hiding behind a dense and unshifting bank of fog. or at least til we descended into beautiful dungarvan where a brave but watery late afternoon sun managed to bathe the town in a gentle light.

we stopped off briefly to drop a delivery into the newest skelligs chocolate stockist nude food, meet the lovely louise and have a much needed cup of superb illy coffee and a moist and almond packed slice of bakewell tart. the stylishly and quirkily decorated cafe bar deli opens its door 'a crack at least' on monday in order to serve dungarvan a relaxed menu of mezze and antipasto and a whole host of deli treats.

anyway if you are in the waterford area on saturday 30th do pop in and see me at ardkeen foosdtore up on dunmore road. if things go to plan i will be dipping away merrily from 11.00-1.30pm and 2.30-5pm providing fresh chocolatey treats for your delectation...

Monday, August 25, 2008

hehir frolics in the glen

we have just had a great time in the glen. esme, elsie and i flew into kerry airport for a week of getting stuck into real work at the factory! a lot of what i do at home in kent involves computers, emails and thinking and it is no substitute for actually being there in the factory surrounded by chocolate and the heady aroma of spices .

as soon as i stepped out of the car in cahirsiveen and smelt the turf, i felt like i had come home. i always feel like this, despite being born in the northern steel town of scunthorpe. if i could persuade emily, colm and the chocolate buying public to accept a smoked turf chocolate, i would go into mass production tomorrow!

emily had cooked a wonderful sunday roast with vegetables fresh from a friends garden. my girls were so excited to see lola that we didn't get them to sleep until nearly midnight.

the next day we dropped all three girls into the creche in the glen where they met up with colm's daughter, ella and immediately settled into a few days of irish dancing, t-shirt printing and eating martina's wonderful home cooked food looking over the stunning views of the bay.
the weather was changeable. at times it was wild and as i walked between office and factory, i was continually struck by the magnificence of our surroundings: wild ocean and misty mountains.

i miss the factory with its bustle of creativity, the bright packaging and the adrenalin rush when big orders come in or go out. it feels like a seam of rich chocolate is threaded through everything. we did a lot of chatting, planning for christmas, designing brochures and sampling some new ideas dreamed up by colm and orla. and then i did some more sampling. and some more...

on our last evening we drove over the hills to valentia in hot sunshine to have tea at the lighthouse cafe. as we came back on the ferry, we watched children diving into the clear waters of valentia harbour and it was almost possible to believe that irish summers are always this warm and calm. it reminded me of our honeymoon in liscannor five years ago - a blissful week of swimming, drinking ice cold bulmers and eating great local food.

i can't wait to bring hehir girl number 3 to the glen in the new year to introduce her to chocolate, and the strangely heady smell of turf!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer in the Factory

sorry to our budding blog readers that there has been a distinct lack of action of late. although every year we swear we'll be ready and organised for the summer rush we always get knocked straight off our feet! it has been all hands on deck for the last few weeks and finding a few spare minutes has been a challenge.

since the factory is the focus in the summer i thought i'd tell you a little about it. in the summer we open our doors 7 days a week to visitors where they can taste, buy and during the week watch the chocolates being made.

our special this week is our chunky chocolate with killarney honey, almonds and raisins. this is proving particularly popular with the hill walkers and cyclists braving the kerry hills and who are in need of a bit of an energy boost! this creation was invented to use up the excess chocolate in the machine after we have been making our cocoa bean honey bars. Because we add so much honey to the chocolate, if you leave it overnight it hardens (rather than staying liquid and waiting to be retempered in the morning like our other chocolate) making it unusable and giving orla an hour long battle to clean out the machine! so we now unload the spare chocolate into trays at the end of the day, generously stud it with fruit and nuts and tie it up all pretty to fuel the hungry people.
our best selling bar this week is our sea salt. it has been selling as fast as (the photo shy) eileen can make it. i think our proximity to the beach really fuels people's imaginations when it comes to this chocolate.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chocisson for children...

Hi everybody,
I’m Guillemette, a French student on work placement for three months at the famous Skelligs Chocolate Co. factory.
I join Emily and Sarah to write some news and exciting recipes on this blog.

I will share with you a secret family recipe.
In English it’s called "Chocolate salami" but the French name is cleverer… CHOCISSON: a mix between chocolate and “saucisson”
Don’t worry it’s without pork!!!!

I cooked that with Lola, Emily’s little daughter. It’s very easy and children love to mix chocolate and biscuits and form the cake with their hands.

For this recipe you need
- a fridge.
- 4 egg yolks ( you can use the white to cook some meringue)
- 100 g sugar
- a pack of biscuits (~20) (like “Petit Beurre” or something else we tried with a crazy cow herd biscuits maybe more unusual in Ireland!!!)
- 125 g butter
- and 150 g dark chocolate of course.

1. You have to get the butter out of the fridge
2. Beat together sugar and egg yolks
3. Melt the chocolate and add it the softened butter. Mix them.
4. Crush the biscuit in little pieces (you can use a rolling pan and hit the closed packet, it’s probably the better way!!!)
5. Mix chocolate, eggs, sugar and butter together.
6. Add the crushed biscuit and mix. (you can begin with a spatula and finish with hands.)
7. Form a roll on a piece baking paper. Roll it and put it in the fridge.
8. Wait above 2 or 3 hours.
9. When it’s firm. It’s ready. You can dust with icing sugar.
10. Serve your sliced cake at tea time with a cup of tea or coffee or for desert with a custard (“crème anglaise”)
11. ENJOY !!!
Warning : the egg yolks are uncooked so the recipe might not be suitable for very young children or pregnant ladies...