To say that Ireland is a very special country is a statement of the obvious. The minute one sets foot on the shores of the Emerald Isle, it is impossible not to be swept up in the Irish energy with its huge, world and culture-changing history. Not only did the Irish save civilization, but they continue to improve upon it with their fierce will, vivid imagination, music that reaches into the very heart of each citizen. And then, there is its food.
Endless and Flavorful Surprises
The flavors of Ireland are endlessly surprising, endlessly delicious. It comes from, I believe, the innate respect the Irish have for their land and sea. They care for both, take huge pride in everything from their golden soda bread made with island wheat, the multitude of artisanal beers made with local hops, the organic salmon that is farmed right off the island’s west coast. Burren Smokehouse, smoked the salmon here over cold smoke, so that it emerges tender and silken. The company uses only organic salmon from Ireland’s west coast, and they say it swims as far and fast as wild salmon, resulting in incomparable flavor, and a certain tensile strength that enhances its texture. It is tender yet firm, buttery and delicate.
Whiskey? Yes. Gin, Double Yes
Whiskey is the spirit most closely associated with Ireland, and Guinness is the beer that holds the Irish soul. That said, there are so many other Irish drinks to sip, including Gunpowder Gin made at the Drumshanbo Distillery. There, the jackalope, a mythical creature issued from the jackrabbit and the American antelope (neither a real creature) who was conceived in a lightning storm, is the company logo. Why? It represents the magic of the herbs used to distill the company’s gin, and the bi-cultural nature of the spirit.
Here these two iconic ingredients are combined in what might be considered a flick of the Irish spirit: small bites that fill the mouth with flavor and wonder, that make you sit up straight and pay attention, that lilt like the notes from the Irish bouzouki (guitar).
The French, Gin, and Smoked Salmon
When you mention gunpowder gin and smoked salmon here in France, eyes light up, people take their place at the table with anticipation. For the French are the second top consumers of smoked salmon in Europe (33,000 tons/year!), and they’re gaining on the gin front too. With this little appetizer, everyone is satisfied.
Make These in the Morning, But Don’t Eat Them All
You can make these in the morning to serve in the evening; they keep surprisingly well. I recommend, honestly, serving them with just the tiniest bit of gunpowder gin, a touch of tonic, a brace of lime. You’ll find the combination remarkable!
SMOKED SALMON, FRESH CREAM - ROULEAUX DE SAUMON FUME A LA CREME
- Generous ½ cup;125ml crème fraîche, chilled
- 1 tablespoon gin or to taste up to 2 tablespoons
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces;250g lox-style smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) wide strips
- Fresh herbs for garnish
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the crème fraîche until soft peaks form, then add the gin while continuing to whisk. Place a teaspoon of the cream mixture on the end of a strip of smoked salmon and quickly roll the salmon around the cream. Set the roll, cream showing, on a serving plate and refrigerate. Repeat with the remaining salmon and cream. Garnish the plate with the the herb of your choice and serve, chilled.