By Lee & Lou Havlicek.
Lee & Lou Cook.
“Lovely soft weather.” That’s how the two sisters described a gray, misty day in Queens at their Irish deli. Years ago, we made our first home in a neighborhood where Bernadette Devlin was coming to speak, and the Troubles raged in Ireland, and Donavan’s Pub—where we often ended up for a burger and a beer—was always alive with laughs and drinks at any hour. This very Irish neighborhood was, naturally, soaked in Irish culture. And we fell in love with all of it—so much so that a lot of those traditions remain in our family today (though it took several years to have a real red-headed reason to celebrate them in the form of Ray). So when Lou opened her store in that same neighborhood, Irish soda bread and Van Morrison were staples, naturally. Especially in March.
And they still are. Though of course there isn’t a month in any year that doesn’t benefit from some Van Morrison.
These days, we still watch the springtime roll in with friends and play Caravan and bake soda bread—only we’re leaning around our kitchen’s counter, blasting our home stereo, and watching single loaves brown in our oven.
Irish soda bread not only sounds a little magical, like it came from an Irish fairytale, but feels it, too, simply by virtue of only making it this time of year. Though when it comes down to it, that seems pretty silly considering how delightful and simple it really is.
Now that we mention it, we absolutely can’t think why we make ourselves wait all year for soda bread. After all, it’s one of our very favorite breads.
We’ve all had versions that are dry or too crumbly or tasteless or more like a rock than a loaf, but Lou’s version has none of that. It’s simple, comforting, and faintly sweet that’s just hoping you’ve got a nice jar of jam waiting in your pantry. Add some good strong tea and you’ve got yourself one comforting and satisfying breakfast or anytime-snack.
But don’t just relegate soda bread to those times of day. We also serve it up alongside soup or stew—pretty much anywhere you might otherwise find cornbread. It’s a good little surprise and makes for a seriously hearty late winter/early spring meal.
We should also mention that soda bread, perhaps unsurprisingly, goes very nicely with a little Irish whiskey (or whiskey-ed-up tea). After all, what’s a whiskey without a little snack on the side? (Answer: lonely.) For the recipe, and oh so much more Lee & Lou click here.