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847 634 0339

The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

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Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 


5 Words of Irish Slang

john barry

Outside of Paul's Family's store in County Louth

Outside of Paul's Family's store in County Louth

The past week or so has been quiet in my kitchen and happily busy everywhere else. So no food for today.  As a lover of language (I majored in linguistics in college) I thought I’d share some Irish slang with you. Hopefully you will have a chance to use these terms on your next trip to Ireland.  

1.  Lash

This word can be used to mean a few different things.  It can be used to describe heavy rain as in “Heavy rain lashes Dublin”. It can also be used to refer to making an attempt at something, as in “I’ll give it a lash”.  Finally, it is commonly used in the phrase “on the lash” which means to go out drinking.  

2.  Jo Maxi

This term is used to refer to a taxi. This is something called rhyming slang, a type of slang that replaces words with rhyming words or phrases. Jo Maxi t is also the name of a late 80’s early 90’s Irish TV show that was named after this Dublin slang term for taxi.

I'm sure everyone who has ever visited Dublin has some version of this photo in their archives.

I'm sure everyone who has ever visited Dublin has some version of this photo in their archives.

3.  Yoke

An all purpose noun for something whose name escapes you, like thingamamob, watchamacallit, doodad, etc. Yoke can refer to an object or an indescribable person. Yoke can even replace the “thing” or the “bob” in other similar terms as in  yokeamajig, thingamayoke or yokeamabob.

4.  Jackeen

According to Wikipedia, this term is a mildly pejorative term for someone from Dublin, Ireland.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "A contemptuous designation for a self-assertive worthless fellow," citing the earliest documented use from the year 1840. The term comes from the Union Jack (As Dubliners were considered the most English of all the Irish) combined with the Irish diminutive suffix "-een" (meaning little).

Look at all that green. They don't call it the Emerald Isle for nothing. 

Look at all that green. They don't call it the Emerald Isle for nothing. 

5.  Hames

Hames actually refers to two curved pieces of iron or wood forming or attached to the collar of a draft horse, to which the traces are attached. In Ireland, hames is used in the phrase “make hames of” which means to make a mess of something, usually due to carelessness, sloppiness or ineptitude. Often times hames is preceded by an intensifying or modifying term.  A soccer player who missed an easy opportunity to score may be said to have made a right hames of it.  Or, a complete hames of it, a fierce hames of it, an awful hames of it and so on.

For all those mother's out there. I hope you have an especially wonderful weekend full of appreciation for all that you do. If the rain is lashing down and your husband makes a terrible hames of the whole occasion, just chalk it up to miscommunication and don't let it get you down. Mother's are magic. And a special thanks to my Momma, the most magical of them all. I love you Mom! 

Mint Julep with Irish Whiskey

john barry

Every year when the Kentucky derby rolls around, I wish I had planned ahead and thrown a derby party, or better yet, planned a trip to Louisville. But it always sneaks up on me. This year the Kentucky Derby falls on my birthday, which also snuck up on me. How does that keep happening? I’ve always wanted to go to the Derby and I hope that someday I do.  But this year I am just going to hang out around here and probably catch up with some friends.  Keep it low key. Nothing very Derby related except for this…

A mint julep. Though I’m not sure you can still call it that when the whiskey is Irish, not Bourbon. I’m no spirits sommelier, but I would venture to guess that since mint juleps involve sugar, soda water and mint, it probably doesn’t matter too much what whiskey you use.  When we have whiskey around, for obvious reasons, it is always Irish whiskey.  

Paul’s cousin’s husband works for Cooley distillery, in County Louth, Ireland. The distillery  was converted in 1987 from an older potato alcohol plant by John Teeling and within a decade it began to earn an impressive reputation for outstanding quality.  In 2011, the distillery was bought by Beam Inc. which was purchased by Suntory Holdings in 2014.  Despite the changes in ownership, the product line remains very Irish. Popular for its Kilbeggan blended whiskey, Greenore single grain whiskey, Connemara peated single malt whiskey, and Tyrconnell double distilled single malt whiskey, the Cooley distillery is proud of its heritage as the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. And it is definitely on my must-see list for our next trip to Ireland.

I wonder what the Irish would think of the mint julep? I remember the first time I tasted one, sometime in my early twenties,  I thought that the combination of mint and Bourbon was so weird. But now, now I love it.  I love the smell of a mint julep and the way it’s strong and sweet at the same time.  The way it conjures up images of seersucker suits, big hats and deviled eggs - three of my favorite things.

This recipe involves just a tiny bit of advance planning but it’s great because you can make just one or a whole pitcher of them, in case you are having a Derby party (show-off).  And also because mint simple syrup is delicious and can be used for a number of different things. Like for mojitos, dressing up a fruit salad or brushing on cake layers.  Here’s how you do it.

To make Mint Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup mint leaves

Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off heat and add mint leaves, pushing them down gently with a spoon so that they are totally immersed in liquid but not getting torn or muddled.  Remove from heat and let the mixture infuse for one hour. Strain, discarding mint leaves and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

To make 1 Mint Julep with Irish Whiskey


2.5 oz Irish Whiskey

2 splashes soda water

1 tbs mint simple syrup

Mint leaves for garnish

Add ice to a rocks glass. Pour in whiskey, mint simple syrup and about two splashes of soda water. Stir and garnish with mint leaves.

Spring is Here: Breakfast on the Grill

john barry

Future Women's Irish National Team players

Future Women's Irish National Team players

Isn’t it great when the good weather finally arrives? In Chicago we really have to wait for it, but we are so, so grateful when it comes. I hate that the kids are cooped up for so many months and that I feel like I’m on a never-ending hunt for indoor activities that do not involve technology. Our backyard is a postage stamp and in the five years we have lived in our house we have managed not to fix it up at all, despite our best intentions. Still, we’ve got a small garden, a sandbox and a soccer goal.  What more could you ask for? Awesome neighbors. Yep, we’ve got those too, so we’re good.

This weekend wasn’t super warm but it was sunny, and nice enough to be outside for most of the day.  Our Cousins returned home to Ireland on Saturday and we were sad to see them go. The morning after they left, immediately after Isla woke up she ran downstairs to find them.  She came back up in tears after realizing that they were really gone.

But, before they left we had a big Irish breakfast courtesy of my father-in-law and the Irish Boutique. Winston’s sausages, Irish bacon, white pudding, black pudding, eggs, beans, hash browns, and pancakes and strawberries.  Paul was inside making the pancakes and because it was nice out, I decided to do all of the meats and the eggs outside on the grill. Recently, we’ve been using our grill for more than just your typical burgers and sausages. Grilling whole chickens, a turkey breast and now, breakfast. I haven’t tried it yet but I want to make fried chicken on the grill too, since I refuse to deep fry anything in the house.

I love the days when we can eat dinner (or breakfast) outside and stay out until bedtime. I love not having to clean up the stovetop - because I’m I freak about making sure the stovetop is always clean (even though nothing else is). I also love how cooking outside gets the kids outside and gets us all talking and playing and moving more. It may be a little premature but I’m already thinking about ice cream weather and what flavors we should make this year.

She likes black pudding! 

She likes black pudding!