Monday, 11 July 2016

ICECREAM: THE LOW-DOWN ON IRELAND'S TOP SCOOPS


                                    Ice-cream: It's a long way from chocolate cones we were reared.


ICECREAM has become a matter of hot debate in recent years in this country.

No doubt, it all began with the Celtic Tiger. The big cat began to roar, and even the more modest of us, had money for the daftest of things.

A second home in Croatia still a bit out of reach? Never mind, we could still afford to splash out on highly over-rated, over-priced, artisan brown bread ice-cream.

No kidding. Brown bread ice-cream became a thing for a while. It probably still is. Goodness knows who dreamt it up.

Then came the crash. And suddenly we all started to rediscover HB ice-cream. It was good enough for us when we were growing up, and we were happy to realise that it still was.

That said, once we'd tasted wonderfully crazy, American ice-cream (cookie dough, really??), posh Italian gelato and our own Murphy's salted ice-cream, there was no way to make our high-brow taste buds forget.

But Pistachio is not the only flavour. And the iconic HB is once again having its moment in the sun.


Ice-cream was for the Summer and the sun

Of course, unlike now, when we've managed to rebrand ice cream for every possible occasion, ice cream, back in the day, was for the sun. 

The huge HB factory in Dublin, wasn't too far from where I lived. To a child, it had a Willy-Wonka appeal. Groups of kids would hang around the gates, hoping workers would appear with free samples. 

Apart from the pre-wrapped ice-creams and ice-pops (popsicles) in the local newsagent, we could buy slices of vanilla ice-cream, cut from a block, and sandwiched between wafers.

The thickness of the slice didn't only depend on how much change was in your pocket, but on the generous eye of the woman behind the counter.

Home-made Irish 'milkshakes'

When the weather got really hot, penny-watching parents bought a pint block and a big bottle of lemonade. Taylor Keith, or TK red lemonade was a firm favourite in our house.

Irish 'milkshakes' were made by putting a slice of ice-cream into a tumbler of lemonade. The fizzy combination of sugar, milk and cream defined a Summer's day.

I give it a nostalgic mention, only to be met by horrified stares from the offspring. One of them recently discovered frozen yoghurt. There's no going back. 

So, if you are in Ireland this Summer, and you want to find the best ice-cream our little country has to offer here's the Irish Mirror Top 10 Ice-Cream Parlours.

Meanwhile, one type of ice-cream is as popular today as ever. At the first hint of warmer weather, we start to queue outside traditional ice-cream shops and roadside vans for the much-loved "99".

Machine made, soft-whip with a stick of Cadburys Flake in the top. Sophisticated it isn't.

And all the sweeter for it.
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