Cranberries take center stage now in both sweet and savory dishes.
One of my favorites is this quick bread, sweet enough for dessert but not-too-sweet for breakfast or afternoon tea. The versatile little berry is widely available in markets now, so buy a few bags to use now and a few to freeze for later.
You’ll find recipes for similar fruit breads in my latest cookbook Teatime in Ireland. Order signed copies at irishcook.com.
Every edition of “How to Be Irish” is an opportunity to celebrate your heritage, but this week even more so, as you can delve into what, in Irish terms, might seem like relatively recent history. You can also dig into your own family story.
Here’s what’s up.
Friday, October 30
Frank Daly of Jamison Celtic Rock takes the stage at Gaul & Co. Malt House, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge, starting at 5 p.m. A great venue, and a crowd-pleasing musician. Live music is still a rarity—at least not as common as you’d like—so support this performance if you can.
If you’re not out and about and you’d like to indulge your taste for live Irish music, the great Mary Courtney is back with a show live on Facebook. Will she ever run out of tunes? Not likely. Is there any end to her talent? Not really. Anyway, check out her tunes here, starting at 6 p.m.: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarBand/. She’ll be accepting tips, too, so chip in.
The beloved community organizer, poet and peacemaker Monsignor Michael Doyle, native of Rossduff, County Longford, Ireland, is regarded by many as a living saint, though he would dispute such a thing.
To those admirers, Doyle is the life force behind “Heart of Camden,” the multifaceted nonprofit launched in 1984 and responsible for resurrecting the Waterfront South neighborhood in the beleaguered New Jersey city across the Delaware from Philadelphia.
Retired recently after 40 years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church on Ferry Avenue, Doyle’s contributions to that community are manifold, including rehabilitating well over 200 abandoned homes sold to low-income families. He is also the driving force behind the acclaimed Sacred Heart School, which brings hope to children throughout the neighborhood. He established a free clinic—and, really, all of that is just scratching the surface of a life filled with and motivated by a passionate desire for justice and a longstanding commitment to the fight against the cancer of racism.
Now, a recently released 42-minute documentary shines a new light on Doyle’s life and legacy. Taking its cue from Doyle’s creation, it is called “The Heart of Camden: The Story of Father Michael Doyle,” produced by filmmaker Doug Clayton and narrated by acclaimed actor Martin Sheen, a longtime admirer.
Fresh figs are thought to have been used as early as 2000 B.C.
One of the first fruits to be dried and stored, figs appear regularly in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and they’re revered in many world religions as a symbol of peace, fertility and prosperity.
Most figs grown in the U.S. come from California and are available from mid-May to November. One of the most popular variety is the Brown Turkey, pear-shaped with purple to brown skin.
Similar to the Black Mission but lighter in color, it’s distinguished by the green shades around its neck. It has a light pink interior with robust flavor and is perfect for this delicious dish.
Serve it for dessert topped with whipped cream or for breakfast with honey yogurt and crunchy granola.
Looking for a Covid-safe dinner out? Hoping to catch some live Irish tunes? Want to catch up on your Irish history?
This is the week for all of the above and more.
Here’s the deal:
Friday, October 23
Jamison Celtic Rock takes the stage outdoors at Sweeney’s Philly, 13639 Philmont Avenue, starting at 6 p.m. If you’re looking for live music, Jamison won’t disappoint.
Saturday, October 24
If you love the Screaming Orphans—we’ve seen them many times—they’re back with a Facebook Live concert starting at 5 p.m. Check it out here. (And if you haven’t seen them, do … they’re a party.)
Sunday, October 25
Caitlin Finley and Will Woodson resume their Facebook Live cocktail hour and a half, Sunday at 5 p.m. Watch it here. You can also watch it on YouTube. We’ve written about Caitlin and Will recently. Be sure to catch their wonderful traditional Irish tunes.
Ireland has a rich and often violent history, from the legendary exploits of Gráinne O’Malley, County Mayo’s infamous pirate queen to St. Patrick’s pilgrimage to the top of the rugged holy mountain Croagh Patrick, and from the Viking raids to their ignominious defeat by high king Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf.
Some of us know some of that history, but few of us know it as deeply and as comprehensively as Sean Murphy, a native Dubliner who came to the United States in 2005. If you want to know more, then he’s all too willing to share.
Starting November 5 and continuing for three Thursdays afterward, Murphy is hosting three Zoom-based, hour and a half-long evening classes, one on the history of County Mayo; the other tracing the history of the Viking incursions into Ireland from 795 to 1014 A.D. The cost for each class is $80.
Murphy, of Cape Cod, Mass., has a varied academic background. His initial degree was in science, math and physics, followed by a degree in world politics and philosophy. At a later stage, he took a degree in accounting. He was also involved in local politics in Dublin as a member of the Dublin City Development Board, helping to draw together strategic plans for Dublin City from 2002 to 2012.
Little neck clams. Irish stew. Guinness braised brisket and cabbage. Roasted half chicken. Pan pizza. Vegan meatloaf. Homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Save your whetted appetite for a new restaurant, opening in the cozy Fireside Room at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center (the Irish Center). It’s called The Commodore, and it’s opening for a soft launch October 29 and November 1.
All of those delicious dishes and more are on the menu. And, of course, you are cordially invited.
This is a “soft” opening, meant to refine the concept, with plans to open on a regular basis afterward.
Here’s another week with a nice mix of virtual and in-person events.
Let’s get to it:
Friday, October 16
Irish singer Mary Courtney is back with her weekly concert, streaming live to Facebook, tonight at 6 p.m. Tune in here: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarBand/
Also, kicking off at 7 p.m., it’s Friday Night Virtual Bingo hosted by the Tyrone Society of Philadelphia. (And every Friday night through November 20, FYI.) For $10 per night, you get to play five games of bingo. Cash prizes are based on how many people sign up to play. All the details are here.
Saturday, October 17
Grab your Irish traditional musical instrument and join a Mid-Tempo Virtual Irish Session hosted by Matt and Shannon Heaton. Meant for tune learners and second instrument players, this session kicks off at 2 p.m. Details here.