From cow to cone

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween gelato and ice cream? Why is or­ganic Ir­ish milk the key in­gre­di­ent in gelato? And what flavours sell best? Marie- Claire Digby gets the scoop

The Irish Times Magazine - - LAST DAYS OF SUMMER -

The s o und o f a dai r y c o w’ s post- milk­ing moo – a deep, self- sat­is­fied rum­ble of relief – is a glo­ri­ous thing to en­counter on a wet, cold morn­ing, when ice- cream is the last thing on any­one’s mind. But it is also the sound­track to the open­ing scenes in a 24- hour process that will see this or­ganic milk and cream make its way from a Co Carlow farm to a Dublin city cen­tre gelato shop.

If it is not sold on the day it is made, the gelato will be given to staff or dis­posed of. So it is with a mea­sure of trep­i­da­tion that I de­cide what flavour I am go­ing to make in this cow- to- cone jour­ney that will fol­low the milk from here to the shop counter. Those cows work too hard mak­ing that lovely milk for it to go to waste.

White choco­late and rasp­berry is a safe flavour. It should sell well when it hits the dis­play cabi­net in Gino’s Gelato on South Great Ge­orge’s Street in Dublin. But first, there is milk­ing to be done.

Bill Ge­orge of Coolanowle farm in Co Carlow is one of two sup­pli­ers of or­ganic milk and cream to Gino’s. He is on hol­i­days when I visit the farm, and morn­ing milk­ing i s i n the hands of farm relief worker Brendan Lang­ton, who shep­herds the farm’s 120 black and white Friesians through the 90- minute process in the orig­i­nal stone- built milk­ing par­lour.

The cows know the drill. They do it twice a day, walk­ing placidly into the 16- stall par­lour and tak­ing their turn at the pumps. There are nuts of an­i­mal feed in the mangers at the head of each stall. “It’s like giv­ing a child sweets,” Lang­ton tells me. Keep­ing the cows re­laxed means more milk, “and it also means I’m not go­ing to be kicked”, he says from the sunken pit where he at­taches the vac­uum pumps to each ud­der.

Next month they will move to a new par­lour across the yard, which is near­ing com­ple­tion, and the twice- daily milk­ing will be done in less than an hour. But there’s some­thing very charm­ing about the orig­i­nal par­lour, from where the cows file out in an or­derly queue, stop­ping off for a munch of silage in an ad­ja­cent barn be­fore am­bling up a laneway back to their field, all in their own time.

Back in the yard there is a greater sense of ur­gency. Des Hur­ley from the Vil­lage Dairy in Killeshin, about a 10- minute drive from the farm, has ar­rived to col­lect that morn­ing’s milk. The milk he col­lects here to­day will be part of the first con­sign­ment go­ing to the UK, where Anthony Mur­phy and Jonathan Kir­wan, who own Gino’s, are in the process of open­ing a chain of shops.

“We opened our first UK shop last week in Ch­ester, and we weren’t happy with the qual­ity of the prod­uct – as in, how it tasted,” Mur­phy says. The fa­thers of both men were in the ice- cream van busi­ness, and their joint ven­ture con­tin­ues the fam­ily tra­di­tion. It’s safe to say they know their gelato from their ice- cream.

“What con­cerned me first was the price of the or­ganic milk over there,” Mur­phy con­tin­ues. “It was half the price, which told me straight away the qual­ity couldn’t be as good. The cream over there was like milk; it tasted like milk.”

The cost of trans­port­ing Ir­ish or­ganic milk to the UK will be con­sid­er­able, and the com­pany is al­ready get­ting cus­tomer feed­back that the £ 3.30 per scoop they are charg­ing there is too ex­pen­sive. But Mur­phy and Kir­wan, who now have 14 shops in Ire­land and plan to open six in the UK in the next 12 months, be­lieve the ex­tra cost is re­flected in the qual­ity of the prod­uct.

But first, be­fore it heads for the UK, and to the gelato shop in Dublin where I will meet up with it again, the milk has to be pro­cessed. First, it is checked for an­tibi­otics, be­fore it even en­ters the dairy. It then passes through a process of pas­teuri­sa­tion and ho­mogeni­sa­tion, be­fore be­ing pack­aged, ready for de­liv­ery. The en­tire process takes less than two hours.

The dairy works with 14 lo­cal farms, says Kenny Hur­ley, plant and pro­duc­tion man­ager. It also pro­cesses milk from a Jer­sey herd in Co Meath, and a goat herd in Mullingar. It is a small con­cern: it cur­rently has 261 cus­tomers, gen­eral man­ager Noel Briscoe says, and sup­plies the Avoca stores, But­ler’s Pantry, Dunnes Stores and spe­cial­ity cof­fee shops such as 3fe, as well as Gino’s, which buys 6,000 l i tres of

th‘ e‘ The day of week, and the weather, are fac­tors in the cal­cu­la­tions, and 17 de­grees Cel­sius is the tip­ping point, at which point sales go up

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.