St. Patricks Day, in or out

Soda Bread St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, guys, and sure, you may not be Irish (though, are you sure? Around 11.9% of Americans are part Irish), but I’m betting you are American, and what’s the point of America at all if not to celebrate our dizzying variety of cultures? (And maybe to get tipsy doing it!)

So, for all of you in Hunterdon and Mercer counties, here’s a list of a few things to do, besides, of course, kissing the first Irish person you see. I’m certain I haven’t covered all the fun there is to be had, or mentioned the best Irish pubs, so this is where you come in. Please comment and let me know how you’ll be getting your green on this weekend.

  • Trenton Saint Patrick’s Day Parade: Saturday, March 13, 2020.  Opening Ceremonies Start at 12:30 P.M.  Parade Begins at 1:00 P.M. “The Parade begins with opening ceremonies on the steps of St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church on Olden Avenue. The Parade then marches down Olden Avenue turning left onto Hamilton Avenue. Then going down Hamilton Avenue, the main route of the Parade, participants pass the Reviewing Stand at Columbus Park. The Parade then turns left onto Chestnut Avenue and finally ends at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. The Trenton St. Patrick’s Day Parade annually features in excess of 120 Marching Units and Floats and draws well over 60,000 spectators.”  Read more… Stop in at one of the Irish bars nearby afterwards: Killarney’s Publick House or Buddy Shamrock’s.
  • Robbinsville Saint Patrick’s Day Parade: Sunday, March 14, 2010. Opening Ceremonies Start at 12:00 P.MParade Begins at 1:00 P.M. “Opening ceremonies will take place at the Foxmoor Shopping Center.  The Parade will then proceed North on Washington Boulevard and then take a right onto North Street, and then take a right onto Newtown Boulevard, and then take a right onto Lake Drive East, pass the reviewing stand in the gazebo area, followed by a left onto Union Street, then proceed to the back entrance of the parking area behind the businesses on Rt. 33 in the Town Center. We will disband in this area.  The route is approximately one and one-quarter miles.”  (See the parade route online here.) Food provided by Glenn’s Grillin and Chillin. Read more…
  • Tapping and Clapping with Pride of Erin School of Irish Dance AND Beautiful harmony vocals from Barry & Brooks with special guest Mara Levine: Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 1:30 PM in the Lambertville Justice Center.  Follow it up with a pint at the Lambertville pub, Mitchell’s Cafe.  Read more…
  • Irish vs. Scotch Whiskey class at Joe Canal’s Discount Liquors: Saturday, March 15, 2010.  1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. Fee for the class is $15 per person; call 732-726-0077 to reserve.  Read more…
  • Porter’s Pub: 700 Northampton St, Easton, PA 18042, United States. Call: (610) 250-6561 (Okay, not NJ, but worth a drive for some Celtic music.) Monday, March 15, 2010. Seanachie Og will be playing. Read more…

Brown Butter Soda BreadAnd if you’d rather pick up some vintage Jameson from Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits and stay home to watch the Departed to celebrate, here’s something to pop in the oven. It’s not traditional Irish soda bread, but it is indeed soda bread. And even though there’s no caraway, or raisins, there is rosemary, and black pepper, and brown butter. I’m Irish-Italian, so let’s call it a compromise.

Brown Butter Soda Bread

from Bon Appétit, February 2006

makes 2 loaves

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional for topping
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1 egg white, beaten to blend

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until flour mixture is moistened.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten each into 6-inch round. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/2-inch-deep X in top of each dough round.

Bake breads until deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Baker’s Wisdom:
You’ll get the most tender soda bread by kneading the dough gently and briefly, just until it comes together, so the gluten is minimally developed.

Robin Damstra, Regional Editor for Huntergon and Mercer CountiesRobin Damstra is the Regional Editor for Hunterdon and Mercer Counties. She graduated Douglass College at Rutgers University, where she majored in English. She met her fiancé, Jim, in 2006 and began teaching herself to cook around the same time. In 2007 she started her food blog, Caviar and Codfish. She currently lives in Stockton, New Jersey.