Summer in the city = loads of blue skies + sun and plenty of new {memorable} experiences. This week we stamp flying kites and soaking up the multicultural melting pot we call America onto our passports for adventure.

Yesterday, the little farmer and I stumbled upon 49¢ kites at the store around the corner. We bought two and made our way to the nearby park to quickly assemble the colourful flying machines and give em’ a go. Straight away, the warm breeze scooped up our kites and they soared high into the sky. I have to admit, it was awesome. I can’t remember the last time I flew a kite, it might have been when I was Geoffrey’s age. People cheered us on as we ran up and down the open field while screaming with laughter and joy. It was pure recession-proof, innocent, buzzworthy fun.

After working up quite an appetite on our kite-flying escapade, we decided to make our way to the Hmong Village Kitchen in St. Paul. I had read about this special Southeast-Asian market in a local magazine and was very keen on having a look and introducing our little farmer to another culture. I was not disappointed. Colourful. Friendly. Spicy. Busy. Deep Fried. Foreign. Fragrant. Delicious. A feast for all senses. We gobbled up gorgeous red-glazed spicy pork belly with sticky rice for lunch along with a tangy Laotian salad on the side.

We spied fried chicken feet, quail, spatchcocks, Hmong sausages, bean sprout salads, sliced mango with powdery chili pepper sprinkles, banh mi, tri-coloured tapioca smoothies, coconut filled bread, malaysian meatballs, whole fried white bass, papaya salad, boba teas, fried bananas, loads of rice based pastries and dishes.  Meanwhile, the fruit and vegetable stands were filled with fresh lychee, guava, mango, rambutans, lemongrass, Thai bananas, tamarind and many, many more exotic offerings that I could not identify nor could the vendors translate to English.

But,  possibly the best part was discovering our love for Longan fruit. Yum!

*We will be in the USA until the end of August and sharing blog posts about our holiday abroad. Regular Irish Foodie posts will resume upon our return to the craggy isle. xx

Slan Abhaile,


Photos by Imen McDonnell.

Hmong Village Market & Kitchen,

1001 Johnson Pkwy

St. Paul, MN 55106

11am-7pm (may vary)
BAR: None










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The Amazing Cow Boat!

23 Jul 2011

It’s summer. And the invitation read like this…

“Taking a bath will never be the same after seeing the all-new The Amazing Cow Boat! Told through a giant pop-up book with puppets, songs, and surprises, the show is the story of Charlie who, while taking a bath, sails away in his imagination in search of treasure. Traveling in his boat that amazingly is also a cow, he encounters pirates, mermaids, a whale, and an orangutan.  A performance that appeals to young and old alike! Created and performed by Liz Schachterle and Andy Kraft. Music by Susan Haas

The Driveway Tour brings original, family-friendly theater directly into people’s neighborhoods, developing grassroots community involvement by way of an economically accessible theatrical event.  All Driveway Tour performances are free and open to the public.  

Refreshments provided  (Root beer floats!)

Bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on 

We will ‘pass the hat’ for the performers to help keep the Driveway Tour program “

She had me at Root Beer Floats.

Root Beer Floats
Vanilla ice cream
Root beer {I recommend IBC, Henry Weinhards or good ole A&W}
Spoon a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream into a tall glass. Slowly pour root beer into the glass, allowing the foam to rise and then recede before adding more root beer.
Serve with straws and spoons.
Slan Abhaile,
Photos by Imen McDonnell.
For more information on the Driveway Tours, visit  

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Baby Banoffees

14 Jul 2011

Banana + Toffee = Banoffee

Banoffee is {but, clearly, should not be} one of my besties.

I can explain. You see, the supreme flavor combination of banana and toffee draws to mind a very distinct memory of having the most wonderfully romantic dinner with my father as a small girl. We were eating at one of those old fashioned ‘supper clubs’ whereby my dad would order an old-fashioned for himself and a kiddy cocktail for me in the lounge as we awaited our table in the –highly upholstered- dining room. We had a lovely meal and when it came time for dessert, a handsome man in a white coat and special shiny cart promptly arrived at our table.

Through my little girl wide-as-pie-eyes, what happened from there appeared to be like a fantastical scene out of Willy Wonka. As the man calmly and professionally sliced up fresh bananas, whipped, poured, stirred and magically created a flame of blue fire, he described each detail of his process with humour and prose. In the end, he eloquently presented each of us with a piping hot, creamy, caramel-y Bananas Foster on silver plates. The aroma and flavor were like heaven on earth. *Unforgettable*

Fast forward to 2005. I walk into an Irish café and see the Banoffee in the dessert case onnnnce again {it’s everywhere} and decide to dive in and give it try. The banana + dulce de leche flavor sends me right back to being daddy’s best girl all dressed up at a supper club on a midsummer’s night. Instantly, I am committed to Banoffee.

Banoffee can be found around Ireland at most cafes’ and on the dessert menu at many restaurants, but, in fact, as I researched for this post, I discovered that this pie originated in England.  As the story goes, the cake’s invention is claimed by Ian Dowding and Nigel Mackenzie at The Hungry Monk restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex. They developed the dessert in 1972, having been inspired by an American dish known as “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie”, which consisted of smooth toffee topped with coffee-flavoured whipped cream. Dowding adapted the recipe to instead use the type of soft caramel toffee created by boiling a can of condensed milk, and worked with Mackenzie to add a layer of bananas. They called the dish “Banoffi” and it was an immediate success, proving so popular with their customers that they couldn’t take it off the menu.

Yes, the recipe calls for boiling a can of condensed milk. Yes, it works. But go on, give it a try because I know you just want to see for yourself. It’s a fun and easy no-bake treat to make with children. You can prepare one big pie or a few baby sized like I did.

…and if you can get farm fresh cream, even better.

Banoffee Pie

For the toffee sauce:

1 (405g) tin of condensed milk

For the Base:

350g of digestives or tea biscuits of your choice (in the USA, graham crackers

would work)

150g of butter, melted

300ml whipping cream

3 bananas, sliced

Cocoa or choc shavings (optional)

To make the toffee sauce, remove the label of the condensed milk and immerse it in boiling water. Boil the tin for 2 – 3 hours. The longer you boil it, the darker and thicker the toffee will be. Make sure that the tin is FULLY immersed in water at all times, otherwise, the tin could explode.  (You can also buy pre-made caramel in tins or make the dulce de leche from scratch like this )

For the base, crush the digestives and mix it with melted butter (you can blitz in a food processor as well). Using a pestle or back of a spoon, press the digestives into a 9″-diameter tart base with a removable bottom (or 4-6 mini tart tins). Chill the crust in refrigerator for at least one hour. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it’s stiff.

Fold sliced bananas into whipped cream. Spread a layer of toffee and top with the banana cream. Sprinkle with cocoa or dark chocolate shavings.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell



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Yes, yogurt is usually spelled yog-hurt on this side of the pond. Not just in Ireland, but often throughout Europe. I discovered that the word yogurt is derived from the Turkish: yoğurt, and is related to the obsolete verb yoğmak which means to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken. Why the H is added, we will never know, I’m just glad it’s not called yoğmak anymore.

It was imminent….had to be done….I could not bear to go on without my frozen yogurt for one day longer. Long gone are my days of Pinkberry or TCBY. I’m in Ireland, baby. For a brief period, I could find plain frozen yogurt in the supermarket freezer section, but one day not toooo long ago, it suddenly it disappeared without even saying a proper frozen yogurt banana split goodbye. You see, frozen yogurt was one of those lovely, healthy standby treats that I could get the little farmer to eat. He couldn’t tell the difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream especially when it was covered in fresh berry coulis or a dab of marshmallow fluff and pecans…and neither could I. *tissue please*

Once again, I plunged into farmette mode and wondered if I could make my own frozen yogurt using dairy from the farm. I pondered + pondered until this past weekend when I stumbled upon a recipe for gooseberry & elderflower frozen yoghurt which looked positively delicious! As it happened, gooseberry picking was also on the books for the weekend so we kept 500 grams aside for my little frozen yogurt experiment. I had a batch of Elderflower cordial on hand for the occasion, another seasonal + local treat that I had planned on blogging about this week until the greatness of gooseberry frozen yoghurt presented itself. {Stop by these sites for a little Elderflower love: Edible Ireland and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall }

The recipe is very simple and you don’t need an ice cream maker, although it would be far easier as I had to remember and stir the mixture a few times to get just the right consistency. For the maiden voyage, I opted to use Glenisk natural greek style yoghurt which is a staple in our house. I also added the puree of two pears simply because they needed to be used up and while I believe it enhanced the flavour somewhat, they are not necessary. The flavour and texture are both incredible…I had no expectations and I have to say this frozen treat is a real taste sensation!

This certainly won’t be my last attempt at making frozen yogurt; next time I will try my hand at making some farm fresh yogurt and experiment with other flavours.

Pinkberry Shminkberry.

Give it a go!

Green Gooseberry + Elderflower Frozen Yogurt

500 g green gooseberries

2 ripened  and peeled pears

150 caster sugar

4 tbsp undiluted elderflower cordial

500 g full natural greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the gooseberries and pears into a small saucepan with the sugar and 3 tbsp water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then cook gently for a few minutes until all the berries have popped and softened. Whizz to a puree with a blender, then push through a sieve with a ladle to get rid of the pips. Stir in the elderflower cordial and vanilla and allow to cool. When it’s cool, fold in the fruit puree. Either churn in ice cream maker or put into shallow metal container in the freezer for a few hours, until mixture is solid, then break up and blitz in food processor until totally smooth. Return to freeezer for an hour or so. Eat while soft-ish. Scoop up and serve!

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell…assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell




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