Contact Us

Visit us at one of our three store locations to find Irish Jewelry, Claddagh Rings, Irish Sweaters, Irish Foods, Guinness Products, Waterford and Belleek.

Call us at one of the numbers below or use the accompanying form to contact us.

The Irish Boutique - Long Grove, IL (847 634 3540)

Paddy's on the Square - Long Grove, IL (847 634 0339)

The Irish Boutique - Crystal Lake, IL (815 459 1800)

 

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. 

Cooking Blog

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. 

 

Milwaukee Irish Festival

john barry

Photo credit: VISIT Milwaukee

Photo credit: VISIT Milwaukee

The Irish Boutique is on the road this weekend at the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the world’s largest celebration of Irish music and culture.  My husband’s family has been going to the Milwaukee Irish Festival for about 30 years (maybe more?).  We even had to plan our wedding around it! Paul and I have been together over ten years now but last year was the first time I ever went to the festival.  It was amazing.

Irish Brigade in 1981 at the first annual Milwaukee Irish Festival. Photo credit: Milwaukee Irish Festival

Irish Brigade in 1981 at the first annual Milwaukee Irish Festival.

Photo credit: Milwaukee Irish Festival

There are children’s activities, live music on multiple stages, books and authors, and, for those who like to shop, all of the Irish goods imaginable.  There is a huge gathering on Sunday morning for Mass and 5K run/walk and even a “Celtic Canines” area where you can learn all about Irish dog breeds.  If these activities are too wholesome for you, there are also beer and whiskey dedicated areas including “the Jameson Lounge” where you can sit down for a tasting. My hands down favorite last year was the Celtic Kitchen, an area dedicated to cooking complete with its own full schedule of chef’s doing demos and tastings of both traditional and modern Irish and Celtic cuisine.

And a show during last year's fest. Photo Credit: Milwaukee Irish Festival

And a show during last year's fest.

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Irish Festival

No matter who you are, you’ll find something you’re into.  I promise. It’s definitely worth checking out. You can see all of the events and schedules on the Festival website at http://irishfest.com/Irishfest.htm.  If you end up going, look for my brother-in-law John at the Irish Boutique located in the center of the Festival grounds inside the new covered shopping building. Look for the Irish Boutique banners!

They are setting up as I write this. 

They are setting up as I write this. 

Bacon-Wrapped Date Inspired Tart

john barry

Does your block party? Our block didn’t have one this year, probably because there aren’t that many young kids on our block.  Or, because we would be the obvious ones to organize it (since most of the young kids on our block are ours) and we didn’t.  I do, however, love a good block party and I’m glad that we live in an area where they exist.

Block parties weren’t a thing in any of the neighborhoods I lived in when I was growing up but I think they must be especially fun to experience as a child. From the simple pleasure of being able to actually run in the street (even if it is just one day a year), to having a bounce house, face painting and an excuse to run amok with all of the neighborhood kids while your parents are busy chatting and grilling burgers to notice what you are up to. It seems like a kid’s dream come true.

I give you Exhibit A. at the start of her three-course dinner which included: strawberry ice; vanilla ice cream; and a chocolate cupcake to round out the meal. Party on!

I give you Exhibit A. at the start of her three-course dinner which included: strawberry ice; vanilla ice cream; and a chocolate cupcake to round out the meal. Party on!

A couple of our good friends’ have an amazing block party every year. There are a ton of kids on their block and the parents are extremely organized when it comes to throwing their annual block party. They’ve got a schedule that includes a children’s lunch, a DJ, carnival games and raffle prizes, face painting, a bounce house, a talent show, a potluck dinner, a band, wine tasting and a bags tournament. They even have an ice cream truck.  They also have really nice neighbors who are always welcoming when we crash their events.

When crashing events, I like to come prepared with some kind of offering.  As I was brainstorming ideas for a dish to bring to the block party I kept thinking that I wanted to bring something that :

  1. feeds a crowd,
  2. is easy to transport, hold and eat,
  3. is good at room temperature, and
  4. keeps well.

I knew that slab pie or tart of some kind would do the trick, but I was having such a hard time deciding on what to put in or on it.

So I started to make a list of crowd-pleasing hors d'oeuvres and appetizers. You know, the stuff that everyone seems to like when it’s served at a party or event. The stuff you end up ordering at restaurants when you have a big group who can’t seem to agree on anything. My list went something like this: caprese salad (too difficult to eat, doesn’t really keep well or look pretty after a while); hummus (too boring, although I do love hummus); jalapeno poppers (best eaten when hot and not very kid-friendly); spanakopita (a possibility) and then I came up with this one...bacon-wrapped dates. I love bacon-wrapped dates, especially when they are stuffed with goat cheese.  Does anyone not like bacon-wrapped dates? I knew I had a winner.

One of the benefits of this choice was ease of execution, which, let’s face it, I am all about. The older I get and the more experience I have cooking for others, the less daunted I am by recipes with multiple steps or a lot of ingredients.  Still, I’m a big believer in simplicity and that a lot of times, simple is not just simple, but also superior in taste.  So, once I made a decision, it was beyond easy for this little tart to come together.  

Bacon Wrapped Date Inspired Tart

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (10” by 15”)
  • 8 oz goat cheese (chevre)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
  • 12 dates, roughly chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • Honey or balsamic reduction for drizzling on top

Preheat oven to 375F.  Cook bacon for 8-13 minutes until a lot of the fat has rendered but bacon is not yet crispy.  The time this step takes will depend on thickness of your bacon.

Set bacon aside to cool in between two paper towels to collect any extra fat.

Turn oven temperature up to 400F.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the goat cheese, parmesan, thyme, garlic and lemon zest and whip until texture is a smooth and spreadable consistency. Add a little cream or milk if necessary to make the goat cheese mixture easy to spread.

Roughly chop bacon.

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and crimp edges like you would a pie to form a border. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry all the way to the border.

Top with bacon and dates.

Brush edges of the tart with egg wash.

Oven-ready

Oven-ready

Bake on a rack set in the center of the oven for 20-30 minutes or until tart is evenly browned all over.

Set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Top with pistachios and drizzle with honey or balsamic reduction before serving.

Sliced and in transport (on my lap in the car).

Sliced and in transport (on my lap in the car).

Buttermilk and Herb Brined Pork Chops

john barry

So, I’ve been reading Blood, Bones and Butter, the memoir of chef Gabrielle Hamilton, and there’s this part of the book where she talks about “Old Worldy” things like moms who put a warm hard-boiled egg in their kids’ coat pockets to keep their hands warm on the way to school but also to serve as part of their lunch.  I love the idea of that, probably almost as much as my kids love the idea of getting a chocolate chip granola bar in a shiny plastic wrapper instead of the piece of fruit that I provide for them each day. How I would love to give them warm eggs in their pockets, and I would, if I didn’t think that they would go to waste, or worse, end up being shared at school with a kid who has a deadly egg allergy. Still, I like to think about “Old Worldy” ways of doing things, especially when it comes to preparing food. One concept that I’ve been thinking about lately is the combining of ingredients that go together for geographic, seasonal and other reasons, ingredients that generations of people probably served and ate together before we could all just go to the grocery store and buy whatever we want, whenever we want it.

Inspired by my research into the pork industry in Ireland and the discovery that pig farms were a natural complement to an agricultural landscape that already relied heavily on dairy farming - due to by-products of butter and cheese production such as buttermilk; I decided to combine buttermilk and pork in a recipe.  Buttermilk, it turns out, goes perfectly with lean cuts of pork as a marinade or brine in the same way that it does with chicken. A buttermilk brine imparts both flavor and moisture to the meat, keeping it juicy and allowing you to taste the herbs and salt used in the brine in the final result.

While buttermilk is tangy, it isn’t as acidic as some elements of a typical marinade (e.g. vinegars, citrus juices, alcohols) and therefore, you can let your meat rest in a buttermilk brine for longer without it ruining the texture of the meat. This is helpful when you want to throw some pork chops in there but aren’t sure whether you will get around to cooking them tonight or tomorrow.   I don’t know about you, but I have this issue a lot and it’s nice to have the flexibility to just wait another day.

In terms of cooking, I intended to grill these guys but it was raining, so I ended up breading them via “Standard Breading Procedure” - coat with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs - and cooked them under the broiler.  Either way they work out to be an easy, quick, healthy dinner that I could eat again and again, especially during summer. Leftovers would also make good picnic food.

Buttermilk and Herb Brined Pork Chops

4 pork chops

2 cups buttermilk

2 handfuls of fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley, basil and tarragon)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine brine ingredients in a large zip-top bag.  Add pork chops and rotate until fully coated/submerged. Allow to rest in the fridge from 12 to 36 hours.  Grill, roast, fry or broil until cooked through.

There are endless uses for buttermilk if you are concerned about what to do with the leftover portion. I made salad dressing with the remaining buttermilk by adding herbs, salt, olive oil, honey and a little mayo. I also regularly use buttermilk in pancakes, soda bread (recipe here), coleslaw, mashed potatoes, or mixed with greek yogurt and honey for breakfast.   

Buttermilk dressing.

Buttermilk dressing.