A tour across the changing culinary landscape of Ireland

Cúlcow ice cream

Question: How many calories are in two half-liter containers of Cúlcow ice cream?

Answer: None, if you eat it all.

I'm going to defend myself right now and say it was an unfair fight. Fresh off a five-hour sleepless flight, my crusade to find the best food in Ireland was clashing with jetlag. So when I woke to my second day in Ireland from an ice cream-induced coma, there was part of me that was disappointed in myself.

The rest of me said, "screw it."

Let's go back a bit. I spent a year a year in Ireland during the late 1980s. Apologies, but twenty years ago Ireland was an ice cream wasteland — even with its preponderance of grass-fed cattle. Ice cream consisted of few flavors and little creaminess.

I hail from a family of ice cream addicts, so a year in Ireland back then was an ordeal in the arena of frozen dairy treats. Flash forward to the Ireland of today: ice cream is having a renaissance! They are embracing grass-fed cream and developing simple, yet unique flavors. It makes me want to give Ireland another go. I love straightforward ice cream: for me, once you've added a half dozen sideshows, the taste experience turns into a big sugary mess.
Libby and Jim Kirwan

Meeting up with Jim at his truck on Wicklow Street.
And scoring some tubs!

Honeycomb and lemon curd ice cream

Honeycomb and Lemon Curd (my personal new favorite!)

Tasting this new Irish ice cream was at the top of my to-do list as the Aer Lingus tires were still cooling down. I had been in contact with Jim Kirwan, who makes and distributes ice cream through his award-winning company, Cúlcow and had featured him in one of our spotlights. He delivers his delectable treats to restaurants and shops around Dublin on Thursdays and as luck would have it, that's the day I landed. We agreed to meet up.

Jim is humorous, enthusiastic, and driven in his love for the ice cream business. Cúlcow ships ice cream to households all over Ireland and allows customers to add a personal message on the tub (a great gift idea!). With flavors like honeycomb, hazelnut, and lemon curd Cúlcow has upped the game in the ice cream world.

Jim met us at Alchemy (more on that in a subsequent posting), just off Grafton Street, where we conferred about all manner of things before he brought us to see his freezer truck, which had been emptied of most — but not all — ice cream. He gave us a couple tubs to sample, and then we climbed into the truck cab for a ride back to our hotel. The trip gave me an appreciation for all of the different hats he has to wear to run his own ice cream company.
After returning to our lodgings, I stuffed myself silly on the lemon curd and honeycomb flavors. Delicious! The attention to quality at Cúlcow was evident from the first deep, creamy bite and the ice cream of two decades ago melted into the nether regions of my mind where it can finally rest in peace. All is forgiven.

Cúlcow ice cream is featured in restaurant desserts around Dublin and is on sale at Liston's on Camden Street in Dublin. If you live in Ireland, consider ordering a tub online too!

In an effort to conduct more research (apologies Jim! LOL), we made a pit stop at Murphy's Ice Cream on Wicklow Street in Dublin before heading back home to the States.

With shops in Dingle, Killarney, and Dublin, Murphy's has become a leading ice cream purveyor in Ireland. Homemade in Dingle, they too have interesting, straightforward flavors such as Dingle Sea Salt, Irish Coffee, and Carmelised Brown Bread. My particular favorite is Dingle Gin. A scoop of Cúlcow's Lemon Curd and a scoop of Murphy's Dingle Gin might send me over the edge.

If the changing ice cream landscape was anything to go on, the Irish food revolution had truly taken hold.
Libby eating Culcow ice cream

Stuffing my face with Lemon Curd Ice Cream.

Next stop: Olly’s Farm.