Yes, there are kilts—in at least one case, obligatory. Sure, there’s ax throwing, bagpipes, a kilted fun run, and highland games. But Kilt Fest, coming to Bucks County June 7 and 8, is really a mishmash of all Celtic culture.
Kilt Fest on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware is an offshoot of a festival by the same name held in New Jersey. This will be the first year here in the Philadelphia suburbs, at the Trifecta Sporting Club, 4666 East Bristol Road, Feasterville-Trevose.
“Ours is more of a Celtic festival. We have Irish and Scots,” says organizer Chris Beyer, owner of American Highlander Kilts. “A lot of it is Irish. It’s easier to get Irish involved in these things. We try to keep it where it’s a little more all-inclusive.”
Patrons of Moriarty’s in Center City can thank their lucky stars that Jennifer Richart Michaels found the 9-to-5 grind so restrictive.
“I tried working in an office, and it was horrifying every minute for me. I did it for two years and I couldn’t wait to get out of it,” she says. “I felt like I was locked in a cage. Every minute, every day. I would get up in the morning and I would think of 20 reasons not to go in. I would make the turn into the parking lot and it felt like somebody had hit me with a two-by-four.”
For the last 15 years, she’s been the day bartender at Moriarty’s, 1116 Walnut Street. Before that, she tended bar at Havana and the Logan Inn in New Hope—she’s from that area—before deciding to give Center City a try. Michaels had been working at a bar that closed when they expanded the Convention Center. That’s when she applied at Moriarty’s.
MAKES 1 DOZEN
Marmalade made with Seville oranges is often preferred in Ireland because these oranges are higher in pectin and give a slightly bitter taste. In this recipe, thick-cut marmalade adds both flavor and texture.
To keep the muffins light and fluffy, fold the wet and dry ingredients together as briefly as possible until just combined; not to worry if the mixture is a bit lumpy.
You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland. To order signed copies, visit www.irishcook.com
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup coarse whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 5 tablespoons plain or vanilla yogurt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup thick-cut orange marmalade
- Softened butter, for spreading
Hanrahan’s bartender Bobby Callan has lived in the Drexel Hill area all of his 30 years. He has a house in Clifton Heights now, but he grew up three blocks from this bustling Irish bar on Burmont Road, catty-corner from the Aronimink Avenue SEPTA station.
Callan got into the bar business a few years ago when one of his best friends suggested that he join him in working at a dive bar. “He said to me, ‘This is easy. It’s great. You get to meet new people.” He took to bartending, but after a while he tired of the dive bar scene. Fortuitously, he played on a local softball team, and a Hanrahan’s employee who was on the team recruited him.
If it’s March, then it’s time to start thinking of soda bread, one of Ireland’s most iconic foods.
It’s safe to say that every Irish cook has a recipe for it that’s been personalized by families either by name, ingredients, or method of baking. A few decades ago, I judged an Irish cooking contest and nearly one quarter of all the recipes submitted were for soda bread—Aunt Eileen’s, Grandma O’Hara’s, Auntie Maura’s, Cousin Terry’s—and not one was the same!
Two or three recipes were for the sweet white version that calls for raisins and caraway seeds and even these varied: one recipe suggested soaking the raisins in water or whiskey to plump up the fruit. Another one or two insisted kneading was essential. One added sour cream; another buttermilk.
I enjoyed them all, but this one—a brown bread flavored with Guinness—has become my favorite. It might become yours, too! If you can, use an Irish brand of coarse whole meal flour; if not, mix Irish oatmeal and oat or wheat bran. You’ll fine recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at www.irishcook.com.
You want to go where everybody knows your name. True. But McGillin’s bartender Tammy Rhodes got to know one patron so well, that she took his name.
Tammy met her future husband, construction worker Dusty Rhodes, in the bar about 17 years ago.
“He was a regular on the floor,” Tammy recalls, “but I got him to come up to the bar. He always sat at a table. One of his friends always used to mess around with me, joking, and one day he said to him, you should get her away from her boyfriend. He’s mean to her. Once he came up to the bar, we started talking.”
They haven’t stopped talking since. Three years ago, they were married at City Hall. “January was actually our third anniversary,” Tammy says. “We got married right around the corner, and after that we came back to McGillin’s. When we walked in, my bosses had given all my customers champagne. They were all cheering us. It was really nice.”
SERVES 14 TO 16
It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to love—love and Champagne, hearts, flowers and, of course, chocolate.
Try this yummy Irish cream-laced chocolate cheesecake (made with Philadelphia cream cheese) for a delicious Valentine’s Day treat.
You’ll find other recipes like this in my Favorite Flavors of Ireland cookbook. To order, visit www.irishcook.com
Onion soup is a surefire hit on anyone’s winter menu. Instead of using only yellow onions, this soup uses three — yellow, red, and shallots—adds Guinness to flavor the broth, and tops it with hearty, thick-cut croutons with melted blue cheese—Cashel Blue preferred! You can make the croutons ahead of time and store in an airtight container.
GUINNESS ONION SOUP WITH BLUE CHEESE CROUTONS
- 2 tablespoons. unsalted butter
- 3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
- 4 shallots, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 3 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
- 1 cup Guinness
- Salt and ground pepper to taste