Sunday July 31st, the feast of St Ignatius, (the founder of the Jesuit Order) was the date for 'An Irish Summers Eve in Dallas . It was the last supper of sorts for the outgoing President of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, Rev.Philip Postell, who was moving to Arizona. Ten couples gathered on a hot summers evening. They had seen their kids through elementary school together, endured tough times, watched their boys play football, struggle with homework, succeed at homework, watched their boys discovering their passions and finding themselves. And through it all with the strong guidance from this very special man. So, as you can imagine this was a bitter sweet evening but nonetheless a special evening.
Now ,salmon is widely available here in Dallas but Irish smoked salmon is not. It seemed only fitting to pull out all the stops for this very special evening and contact a few friends. Birgitta & Peter Curtin, owners of the The Burren Smokehouse came to the rescue. They shipped their organic salmon from Co, Clare in the West of Ireland to Dallas on ice in time for our soiree. This salmon is now available in Dean & DeLuca.
Served with traditional Irish soda bread, a slather of Kerrygold Irish Butter freshly chopped Dill and a squeeze of lemon, makes this smoked salmon a meal in itself....
Before dinner began, Fr Postell gave the blessing and in his own inimitable way was able to rouse the crowd again with laughs all round.
The kitchen was a hive of activity. The way I like it ! For starters we had carrot and coriander soup with pickled carrot, a recipe shared by the 'Wild Honey Inn' in County Clare
-Roast leg of lamb with an Irish whiskey marmalade glaze
-Grilled brussels sprouts with lemon zest
-Carrot and parsnip smash
-Roasted red onions
While the guests were enjoying their dinner, I whipped up some dessert. Raspberry fool with Irish Butter Shortbreads.
DuMOL 2008 Russian River Chardonnay was poured at 'The White House' in January this year. The guest of honor was, President Hu Jintua, of the peoples republic of China. This was not the 1st appearance for DuMOL wines at state banquets. In fact it has been poured at 'Crawford Ranch' the residence of President George W Bush and at 'Camp David' when Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of England was visiting. Kerry Murphy is the proprietor of DuMOL wines and tells us there in fact over 1,000 people currently on the pre release waiting list.
Thanks to our hosts, Mr and Mrs Tom Codd, they ensured the guests were treated with rather special libations!
2000 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Champagne
2009 DuMOl Russian River Chardonnay, 2007 Larkin Cabarnet Franc Napa Valley, 2007 DuMOL Syrah & 2009 DuMOL Pinot Noir
The wines were served with love and received with love. DuMOL proprietor Kerry Murphy explains that the berries are very small, with tight clusters of fruit. Their work is labor intensive and costs four times as much to put in as regular vineyards. Their standards are high and as a result are a favored and popular wine among the members of the prestigious 'Wine Geese Society', part of the 'American Ireland Fund'.
The teenagers moved with ease among the guests, serving, clearing and refilling water glasses. Hovering, wondering if they could catch a morsel of lamb, or a lone sprout. Watching them reminded me of 'Oliver Twist' as if they only received gruel to sustain them.
The evening was layered with Irish stories and peppered with anecdotes. Ingredients such as 'Kerrygold' butter and 'Burren Smokehouse' Salmon were sandwiched between carrots and parsnips, sprinkled with Irish methods of bread baking.
Recently I was leafing through Darina Allen's new book 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' and I came across a recipe for tomato and apple chutney. Laced with childhood memories of eating chutney's and cheeses, I had to make this for our guests. I served this tangy chutney with 'Cashel Blue'Irish Blue Cheese. Now, if you have never had the pleasure of tasting this cheese, then there is a treat in store for you. 'Cashel Blue' is made on the Grubbs family farm in County Tipperary and is available in most 'Whole Foods'stores. As soon as you put this in your mouth, the unmistakable creamy taste of Irish milk comes through, in this blue cheese.
We finished the evening with a glass of 'Coole Swan', made from Irish cream, Irish whiskey, Madagascar Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate. Guests absolutely loved it. The bottle was modeled on the original Irish milk bottle and it got it's name 'Coole Swan' from the poem 'The WIld Swans of Coole' by the great WIlliam Butler Yeats. This glass was but a mere taste and of this award winning liqueur, so when the guests discovered they were all receiving a bottle in their goodie bags, to say they were delighted is a bit of an understatement.
A copy of 'A Kingdom of WIne', which won the Gourmand Award for the 'Best in the World Wine History Book for 2006' was also included in the goodie bag. The author, Dr Ted Murphy is a fellow Corkonian and his research on the Irish and their influence on viticulture throughout the world needs to be shared. When you open this book you begin a magical journey and discover facts and stories about the Irish that will change your view forever.
It was a lovely evening. The guests were wined and dined but most of all, the families worked together and then ate together. This Irish Summers Eve was a peek into my Ireland........