Valentine’s Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Poetry

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

A valentine’s dessert to remember

Valentines day is almost here and in the spirit of love and heart shaped romance I wanted to share a perfect dessert for Valentines, along with a few delicious quotes from one of my favorite Irish poets, the one and only Oscar Wilde…

Many of his quotes are profound and I am always saddened that his life journey was so short. So, in honor of a poet I enjoy, here are a few of quotes on love…

Keep love in your heart.  A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead

Woman are made to be loved, not understood

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance

Hope you enjoy this special Valentine’s dessert….and remember the best ingredient is always ‘love’.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberries and Chocolate with a Sugar Spun Basket

(makes 6)

  • (for the buttermilk Panna Cotta)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 gelatin leaves (3/4 tsp) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ vanilla pod (split lengthwise)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • ½ cup of buttermilk
  • (for the sugar spun basket)
  • 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
  • (for the garnish)
  • 12 fresh raspberries
  • 4 sprigs of mint
  • (for the raspberry sauce)
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp of fine granulated sugar
  • (for the chocolate sauce)
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup of whipping cream

How to make it

  1. Place 2 Tbsp of water in to a small bowl and sprinkle over gelatin. Let it stand for 5 minutes until the gelatin softens.
  2. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add in to a medium size saucepan with 1/2 cup of the cream, pod, sugar and sea salt. Bring to a low boil and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Reduce the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture.
  3. Strain the cream mixture through a sieve and add the buttermilk and remaining cream.
  4. Divide in to molds and chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. To make the sugar spun baskets melt the sugar in a small skillet and boil until it is a light caramel color. Remove from the heat and place the pan in a basin of cold water to stop the cooking process.  Using the back of a spoon, drizzle the caramel in a think steady stream weaving back and forth to create a weave design.  Gently remove the basket and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
  6. To make the sauces puree the raspberries and sugar together and strain to remove the seeds. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler with the cream and stir to melt.  Transfer to squeeze bottles.
  7. To serve remove the panna cotta from the mold and place in the center of the plate. Place three raspberries on the side of the panna cotta and a sprig of mint. Using a squeeze bottle pour three circles of raspberry sauce and a swirl of chocolate sauce.  To serve gently place the sugar spun basket on top.

Judie the Irish Foodie,

in love…


Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland

We all know Ireland is a special place, but did you know about Newgrange on December 21st? – Now this is really special….

New Grange is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids and on December 21st ( the Winter Solstice) it is a symbol of light to our dark world. The Winter Solstice is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.  The mound that you see in the picture covers a single tomb that consists of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber. The Megalithic chamber was build for the Winter Solstice and when the run rises a shaft of light illuminates the chamber through an opening in the roof box. The actual purpose of the chamber is unclear, although recent research suggests it could of had an astronomical function, but whatever it was built for…it is amazing! How could stone age people have built such an amazing thing?

This year I lead a tour of American guests to NewGrange and the response was that of complete awe and fascination! Just like the ancient Celts we look for light and the sun to break forth in the midst of the Bleak Mid Winter!

…just amazing. Please check it out and I do hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas – excitement is building!

Judie the Irish foodie

Excited to announce our 2018 Irish Tours!

For many of us, summer is drawing to a close. Schools are back in session, traffic has resumed it’s daily grind and the memories of our 2017 vacations are behind us – however, we are now giving you something to look forward to! – yes, our plans for next years Irish vacations are complete and we are excited to showcase them to you and our website is ready to accept bookings for our 2018 tours! Who-hoo!

…and we have a brand new tour to announce into the bargain! Yes, after three years of painstaking research we are glad to reveal our ‘ Southern Elegance Ireland Tour’ for 2018. Many of you have been asking whether the Shamrock & Peach will tour Cork and Kerry – well, now we will, but with lot’s of other goodies and luxury touches added for good measure…

Our now famous Legendary Ireland tour will include some of our favorite luxury resorts including the Lodge at Ashford Castle, the Lough Erne Resort and the Slieve Donard Resort. While our accommodations in our Southern Irish tour include Mount Juliet Estate, Hayfield Manor, the beautiful Malton Hotel in Killarney and the one and only Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork. We are seeking to find the best and most unique accommodations in Ireland and are working with our favorite chefs to make our guests feel like each day exceeds beyond all expectations.

Going to Ireland is on the bucket list for many people and that’s why we make each day extraordinary when you tour with us. Please check our our website and email me!

Here is the link to our website for our new Southern Elegance tour:

…and for our Legands tour:

Joy in the Journey!…and see you in Ireland!…let’s dream!

Judie the Irish foodie



Wild Foods Walk in the grounds of Ashford Castle

Chef Jonathan Keane and his team forage daily on the 350 acre Estate at Ashford Castle and were willing to share their experiences with Shamrock and Peach tours this summer.  Eating Wild foods is growing in popularity in Ireland and so has the idea of working with what we have. Certainly, a value my parents taught me and I feel ingrained in the Irish psyche.  There’ nothing like the flavor of fresh wild greens, flowers and berries just hand picked that day.  Our guests got to taste this first hand when dining at Wilde’s restaurant.  One of the culinary highlights of our meal at Wilde’s restaurant was the wood sorrel sorbet.  The tangy acidic herb  (also know as sourgrass) has a tart green apple flavor and it was the perfect palate cleanser with our feast.

May you enjoy the bounty of fields, forests,  gardens and coast!

Joy in the Journey


A taste of tea and history

You can tell by now that I am pretty crazy about history! So combing tea and history has me working in my element.  I was asked to host an Irish afternoon tea event at Barrington Hall, an 1839 Greek Revival style mansion in downtown Roswell, Georgia earlier this month.  The building is ranked as one of the 50 most beautiful homes in Metro Atlanta and it’s been fully restored and furnished with many period and family pieces. The original owner, Roswell King’s daughter (Eva and her husband Rev. William Baker) moved into Barrington Hall in 1883 and owned a tea and coffee importing company. The Bakers have entertained some rather famous people for tea including President Theodore Roosevelt and Margaret Mitchell, so, naturally I wanted to know about the tea they imported and served and ferociously began researching.

The tea that they imported was Orange Peoke!  The ‘orange’ in Peoke is sometimes mistaken to mean the tea has been flavored with actual orange.  However, the word “orange” is unrelated and refers to the Dutch house of orange black tea leaves of a specific size and quality.  These grading are typically used from teas from Sri Lanka, India other than China.  After research I found that the closest tea I could serve was an Irish Breakfast tea (I served Punjana).  Irish Breakfast has a higher proportion of Assam blended with a little Ceylon.  The Assam is copper colored and what we call in Ireland ‘a hearty brew’ and it’s good with a wee spot of milk.  We like to say it’s full of Malty gusto and it’s great any time of the day (if your Irish or Irish at heart).

So, I hope this inspires you to fill a kettle and enjoy a spot of Irish tea that’s been enjoyed from Victorian times and a historic pleasure we can all afford to enjoy every day!

Hope you make time for a cuppa today!

Judith the Irish foodie


Welcome first day of Spring! (St. Bridget Feast Day in Ireland)

The first day of Spring (Feb 1st) has been important in Ireland from the Neolithic period.  In Ireland the lighting of fires and candles invited the power of the sun in the period between the cold Winter months and Spring!  Can you believe it folks….? We’re almost there and I am ready for the warmth of the sun and the buds of Spring to appear.

The relics of St. Bridget and Columcille are said to be enclosed in Downpatrick in the same grave as our National St. Patrick.  I loved this photography shared on the Friends of Saint Patrick’s website today of a group of students from John Brown University in Missouri placing a St. Bridget’s cross on the grave.  The hanging of the St. Bridget cross on the front door is symbolically asking Gods protection on livestock and homes in many homes in rural Ireland.

Those of  you who have been on Shamrock and Peach tours are familiar with Dr. Tim Campbell and this quote he often shares around the grave side.

“In Downpatrick, three saints one grave do fill, Patrick, Bridget and Columcille”

Welcome Spring and and let the feasting of St. Bridget begin!

Judith the Irish foodie



Christmas Scones are Gingerbread Heaven

Ginger Scone Recipe

Gingerbread Scones for Christmas Brunch

Certain smells and flavors conjure up the essence of Christmas!  Just like the aromas of the spices baking in the oven of my favorite Gingerbread Scones.  Gingerbread is an Old World recipe that has somehow become synonymous with the Christmas Season around the world including both Ireland and America.  These Gingerbread Scones are perfect for holiday brunch are always a hit especially when served with Lemon Curd and Fresh Whipped Cream.  Enjoy the season and the spices of Christmas..  It’s the time!

Gingerbread Scones with Clotted Lemon Cream

Gingerbread scone ingredients (makes ½ dozen):

  • 1 lb. (4 cups) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 oz. (¼ cup) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 oz. (¾ cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) buttermilk
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) molasses
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water or milk)


How to make them:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut the cold butter into the mixed dry ingredients then rub the mixture together with your fingertips or add them slowly to a food processor to form a breadcrumb-like texture.
  4. Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
  7. Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
  8. Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
  10. Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Judith the Irish Foodie



Ox retains Michelin Star in Belfast

Congratulations to Ox for retaining a Michelin star in Belfast.   It’s pretty amazing that Belfast has two restaurants achieving awards for the world’s greatest dining.  Both Chef Michael Deane’s restaruant Epic and Ox with Chef Stephen Toman and Alan Kerloc’h deserve the highest applause for retaining their 2017 Michelin stars. Ox is one of the incredible fine dining experiences I schedule on my Shamrock and Peach Tours each summer, and am always so proud to showcase just how good the food is in Ireland!

Being a Game of Thrones fan I was also excited when Chef Stephen Toman showed me his set of three Valyrian Steel kitchen knives on display inside the restaurant.  The knives were delivered by Tourism Ireland in partnership with HBO to celebrate Northern Ireland as Game of Thrones Territory.  Chef Stephen told me he has cooked with the knives and they are remarkably sharp.

The photos were taken when I was in Ireland to lead Shamrock and Peach tours. My sisters treated me to lunch and meeting Chef Stephen was a surprise bonus – and I am very excited to be bringing my USA guests to dine there next summer!….please plan to join us!

Judith the Irish foodie


Titanic Belfast crowned as Europe’s leading attraction!

Titanic Belfast - Shamrock and Peach Photography

Titanic Belfast – Shamrock and Peach Photography

When I bring Shamrock and Peach guests to see the Belfast Titanic Center the response is always one of unexpected emotion and reverence. The center tells the story of the great and famous Titanic liner that sank in 1912 on her maiden voyage, and in so doing literally became a world icon. So, when I heard the news that the center has just won the 2016 Travel Award as Europe’s leading visitor attraction I was amazed, pleased and naturally wanted to blog about it…yes, Belfast Titanic beat the Acropolis, Athens, Buckingham Palace, England, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, La Sagrada Familia, Spain, Ribeira do Porto, Portugal, The Eiffel Tower, France and The Roman Colosseum, Italy – to name a few!….wow!.

The Titanic Center just opened four years ago on the actual slipway in the titanic Quarter where the mighty ship was built and set sail in 1912. The building itself reflects the exact dimensions of the bow of the ship, and has won many awards itself for it’s outstanding design. Another addition is the exhibit of the last white Star liner, the Nomadic, that was used to ferry passengers back and forth to the Titanic, and is docked peacefully in Belfast again after 100 years of service.



The center is all very nostalgic for Belfast and an award like this is to mean feat for Ireland’s shores.

Shamrock and Peach tours have just also added the 2017 schedules that includes visiting the Titanic Center in Belfast. So, way to go Northern Ireland!

Sending my love from an unusually rainy Atlanta evening,

Judie the Irish foodie


How Brexit is good news


During the climax of the summer travel season, Britain has chosen to leave the European Union through a popular vote known as Brexit. While markets are scrambled abroad, many immediate effects of Brexit are taking effect, namely the exchange rate between the American dollar and the British pound. With the pound being recorded at its lowest point in 30 years, the dollar is triumphing, providing American travelers noticeable discount on prices paid throughout Britain.

In simple terms, Americans visiting Northern Ireland and Scotland can truly gain a lot more bang for their buck, literally. The most noticeable ‘bang’ we are seeing is one that holds most Americans back from their dream vacations, air fare. Flight tickets from the US to Northern Ireland and Scotland are currently around the price range of $400-500 for a round-trip. This is understandably unheard of, due to the fact that just two or three years ago summer flights to Northern Ireland and Scotland were floating around the $1,800 range. So go on, the age-old burden of the expense of air travel has been relieved for you to live your dream, check off another item on the bucket list, and seek adventure, nothings holding you back now!

Please check out our website for more details on tours to Northern Ireland and Scotland

Enjoy your summer!

-Judie the Irish foodie