Tomodachi Sushi in Galway …….Ah Galway. Look at yourself. All grown up and having a real Sushi bar dead set in the middle of our little city by the sea. Situated on the 2nd floor above Maxwells Bistro and directly across from Brown Thomas, Tomodachi Sushi Bar is in the high rent district;Slap bang in the middle of Galway.
2 Eglington Street
(091) 564 939
The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) hosted its Annual Awards event (#FoodOscars) in Dublin last night (Monday 16th May, 2016). This event is of huge importance to Restaurant owners, Chefs and their crews, and Front of house teams, from all over the island of Ireland.
This is their NIGHT to get dolled up and sit down to a nice meal together, cooked by their peers aka the winners from last years awards, and receive recognition for their hard graft. All 950 of them. Dear god – I’d hate to be the dishbitch for that party!
When working and living in the world of Social Media, there is no need for TV’s or Newspapers in one’s life. All we need is a decent internet connection to keep us entertained for hours – which is what the team from the RAI did last night. You can jump on to Twitter (even if you are not a registered user) and see all the Tweets from last nights #FoodOscars right here.
The reason I am telling you about this, is because Summer is here (although it is raining heavily this morning at 6am!), and even if you are not planning any kind of big holiday this year, you could spend a few hours looking at some new places to visit around the island.
Fill your bellies in the best Restaurants and Cafés along the way! The #FoodOscars awards matters most to folks working in the Service Industry in Ireland because of the transparent judging process put in place by Adrian Cummins (CEO of the RAI) and his mighty team.
The #FoodOscars Award process runs from early January until mid May each year. It is a lengthy and thorough process designed to reveal the best in the industry in a fair and transparent manner which includes:
Mystery guest inspections
An expert and unbiased judging panel
This is all factored in when deciding the winners. The judging panel consist of professionals who are incredibly passionate about the Food Industry in Ireland. Their backgrounds are hugely diverse and cover a range of everything from:
- Newspaper Editors
- Marketing Executives
- Wine Shop owners
- Food & Wine Critics
- Lecturers & Teachers
- Graphic Designers
- Grocery Shop owners
The list goes on, but I am sure you get the picture.
Judging panels are assembled by region (Connacht, Munster, Leinster, Ulster) and they meet once to vote for the Regional winners and then meet again to vote for national winners. This is all done on a volunteer basis and each judge donates their time graciously to aid in ensuring the process is as fair as the RAI intend it to be.
The judges spend their time (and their own money!) eating and sleeping in Ireland’s best (and sometimes worst!) hotels and restaurants all year round; testing and tasting, sipping and savouring – always making notes of who is worthy of a win. And then they share the details of all the delicious places they have been to with other judges so that other regions are aware of the stiff competition, and also know where to go eat when they visit different parts of Ireland throughout the course of the year.
How to get involved:
Yes – I realise this is a ‘year in advance’ but based on the information I have shared with you above, as a restaurant owner or service industry worker, you now know that this summer, when the judges hit the road exploring the tastes and tipples the Island of Ireland has to offer, you need to bring your A game. Be the best that you can be all year round!
Oh yeah, and …
- Food Heroes
You do not need to be a member of the RAI to be nominated or to take part in the awards.
All you need to do is encourage your peeps to vote for you via www.irishtimes.com/irishrestaurantawards. Voting typically opens mid January and closes by the end of the month. This is important, because if you do not receive a public nomination then your name is not going into the hat for the Regional or National Awards. So mark your calendar NOW for late December 2016 to remind your customers to nominate you when then time comes!
A few of my personal favourites took home some massive WINS last night for Galway, Mayo and the Connacht region in general!
To all the nominees and winners .. especially in the Connacht Region … damn, you have made us proud.
Thank you for your hard work; We know how hard it is to keep your head above water. You are continuing to shine an incredibly bright light on the West of Ireland and for this – we thank you!
That is it for now folks, time to do the school run and get to work!
I was inspired to write this blog post late last night, as I sat responding to several text messages from local bar/restaurant/café/hotel owners and employees, all wondering why their place of business never gets recognised for their efforts at the #FoodOscars each year. I guided them all to the RAI website, because I think it is an excellent website, clearly explaining the nomination process and I hope, if you work in the service industry or know anyone working in the service industry, you will share this with them.
Hi-dee-ho neighbours …
I have been swamped these past few months with work – I’m not complaining at all…it is good to be busy. The only downside is I don’t get to vent my frustrations in your general directions.
The kids are bigger and bolder and the chef lives in his own little world of Bread and Baking at Mortons. His Sourdoughs are killer and he is trialing a Gluten Free Sourdough right now which is getting decent reviews! If you try it, let me know!
Now that summer is approaching I hope to get back to doing a bit more blogging.
In the meantime, click over to this gorgeous website to read a few of my reviews on a few well known restaurants.
I’ll be back soon!
Galway produces some real gems from time to time, and this new one I am going to share with you today, Larder 360, is one of them.
There are constant rumours and murmurings of the recession being over and although we have yet to fully experience this in the west of Ireland, I think it is safe to say, things can only get better! Larder 360 is a new concept, and while we have seen many businesses launch (and fail) over the last few years, one of the nice things about this new venture, is that we can see some of our favourite ones survive, and now thrive.
Larder 360 is the brainchild of a few local farmers here in the west. The lads from Castlemine farms, who have been in bed with The Friendly Farmer for years sharing a produce stand at the local markets, decided it was time to expand their offerings. But, as we all know, small producers are often met with harsh realities like the expense of having a distribution centre (heavy with refrigeration) and finding a reliable, economical and affordable delivery/courier service.
Out of all these dilemmas, a delicious idea, Larder 360, was born and a few more local producers were added to their offerings. Some of them you already know, and a few more of them you should get to know! (That Blakes Organic Chocolate is killer!)
So what exactly is Larder 360? It is an online shop offering you quality foods, convenience of sourcing, buying, delivery and affordability, all bundled up into one cooler delivered to your front door at home (or at the office!). Right now, the deliveries are restricted to County Galway, but as they grow, they will expand, county by county.
With their local distribution centre housed in Oranmore (091-79 2899), the lads are already busy filling coolers with orders placed online. All coolers are filled by Thursday evening each week and deliveries made on Fridays.
Last week, our delivery consisted of a little meat and fish. The order tallied up to just over €100 and this is what we got for it.
Sausage/Streaky bacon (rashers)
Beef shin on the bone
Rack of Lamb
2 bars of Blakes Organic Chocolate
When I asked himself what he thought, specifically if he felt this was ‘worth €100’ he said:
“Oh god yes…especially considering the quality of the food you are getting – I reckon we will get 7 or 8 meals out of this plus leftovers”.
That was good enough for me.
For now, as they are just officially rolling out this new venture, their offerings are still limited. In the future I would hope to see a few more items added to the list, and I think it will encourage more people to try it out. (Like a Ribeye steak on the bone lads??).
When I asked a few of my food-lovin friends about this, and whether or not they might use this service, I got mostly positive responses.
What a cool site!! I really like it.. firstly for the range of local produce available. . I like the idea of being able to place my meat and fish order etc for the week and I would totally use it for this. I also like their fixed delivery charge of €5 which seems really reasonable considering we live in the sticks!! Layout of the site is snappy and easy to navigate and just had a really nice local/artisan feel to it. I’d definitely place an order and see how I get on.
Caroline, Galway city
That’s a very nice website. I’ll admit my first reaction to some pricing was that it seemed steep and then I realised I was comparing it to some supermarkets, and that this was actual fresh produce so it’s not that dear when you consider that. I thought the chocolate especially was very reasonably priced. Not that I’m a super chocoholic but that’d be the kind of chocolate I’d use in baking so good price there.
I’m not sure that I’d use it on a regular weekly or fortnightly basis but definitely one I’d consider for special occasion dinners or as a treat. It is great to be able to find local produce under the one umbrella. I will never be a vegetarian so knowing where to get some fresh local meat will always be welcome, because you want to support local farms but a person might not know where to look.
Just had a glance, yes I’d use Larder 360. Like the suppliers! eg, What’s For Pudding (save me hacking into town to buy ’em, had one for dessert this evening with the family!). I like idea of an artisan butcher too, and being able to buy “unusual cuts”. Could see myself using this once a month maybe #PaydayTreat
So what do you think? Is this something you might consider using? Have you already put them to the test and are you enjoying the food? (I know we are!). Let me know …
Now … and because the lads at Larder 360 are just so nice, we have a €50 euro gift voucher to give one of our lucky readers … all you have to do is answer the following question and a winner will be picked at random on Sunday May 1st 2016.
What is the name of the culinary award/designation Galway has recently won (for 2018)?
Answer in the comment section below and in order to be eligible to win, make sure you are a regular reader of WiseWords – sign up here and you must live in (or request the delivery of food to be in) County Galway. (So, if you are reading this and live abroad, but your family lives in Galway, it would make a lovely gift – wouldn’t it?).
Thanks for reading … sorry it’s been a while since my last ditty .. I am kept busy at work and writing away and have feck all time for my own musings these days … such is life .. we must work, to earn money to pay bills, if we want to play!
That’s all for now!
6 Abbeygate Street upper
Open: Monday – Sunday from 12 noon – 9pm
Having spent more than 15 yrs living and working in the US, it goes without saying that we all love Mexican food here at Chez Wise. So much so, that due to the lack of any decent Mexican food eateries in Galway over the last 8 years, we have just had our own little weekly fiesta at home. We have pined silently and patiently for someone to open up a Chipotle or heaven forbid, somewhere like The Comet in Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio, where we used to frequent quite a bit when we lived the other side of the pond.
Over the last couple of years, there have been a few interesting additions to the Mexican food offerings in our little city-by-the-sea, and I am here to tell you that Tuco’s Taqueria is leagues ahead of the others.
A couple of years ago, we caught wind of the fact that Boojum was coming to Galway – a chain with decent offerings and large portions. It had all the potential of becoming a favourite cheap n’ cheerful kinda place, but we all felt a little queasy every time ate there, so we ditched that plan!
For a few years, if we found ourselves in Dublin around lunchtime with little time to spare, we’d stop in to Tolteca. They frequently offer a two-for one deal and the kids and himself were kept happy. Then, joy oh joy, they opened a branch in Galway, over on Newcastle road near opposite the hospital and close to NUI Galway. It was good – but not as nice as the one in Dublin, but hey, better than nothing!
Then a few months ago, late in the autumn, we discovered Tuco’s Taqueria, hidden away on upper Abbeygate street, almost immediately opposite Lynch’s Castle cash machines, which incidentally you will need to get in line for as Tuco’s accepts cash only.
. With vibrant chalk board menus hanging on the wall, there are lots of options to choose from. They have six different salsas to tickle your tastebuds, ranging from Cremosa (mild) to Tuco’s Terror (very hot). Now, unlike the little flames on the menu at Papa Rich Asian Street Food Kitchen, where hot means hot, these salsa’s are not going hurt you too much,
The kitchen and service crew seem native, to Mexico that is, and I think this might be the kicker for Tuco’s and why their food tastes so gooood; way more authentic to the other two places.
Take for example, their Carnitas. Slow cooked (100%) Irish Pork ..it is mildly addictive. Actually, I might just go on record here and state that it is totally addictive, and I am addicted to it.
Their burritos, much like all burrito joints, are massive, so go with an appetite if you are putting this Galway gem on your list of places to try. But in saying that, the kids wolf ’em down everytime, loaded with Pinto beans, rice, guacamole (divine), salsa and either chicken, pork or beef.
The Taco’s ( 2 per order) are my favourite. You can get wheat or corn tortillas and different fillings in each.
As with all these eateries in Galway that we find and take time to tell you about, this one was quite well priced too. Lunch, or supper, for 4 pp with soft drinks or water, comes to under forty euros every time.
With a funky interior, and seating for 40 pp (upstairs and down), Tuco’s Taqueria is a very welcome addition to the cheap n’ cheerful side of dining in Galway.
Let me know if you have tried it? Oh, and they also use Deliveroo – so no excuse really. They can drop it to your door in 30 minutes!
That’s all for now guys n’ dolls …
next up .. Kebabs and embracing them whilst sober!
Asian Street Food Kitchen
3 Dalys Place,
091 450 147
Serving lunch and dinner 7-days a week from 12:30am – 10:30pm.
The fun is just beginning when it comes to the constantly evolving world of food in Galway and this new Asian restaurant, Papa Rich, might just be the tip of the iceberg.
We moved back to Galway mid-2008 after a 15 yr stint in the US and a year in Switzerland. When we landed, aside from it being an unusually wet summer, the choices we had when eating out in Galway waned on the edge of well-established tourist traps to a small handful of decent eateries.
It was always easier, cheaper and tastier to eat at home.
I’d venture to say that now, almost 8 years later, we are just spoiled for choice when it comes to picking our favourite restaurants, bars and cafes. There are even one or two hotels that offer decent grub – and that is practically unheard of!
First though, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ for the little effort that is being made to this section of town? I know Galway is not big enough to have a Chinatown, but if you swing around from Asiatic grocery store over near Sally Longs, all the way down to Papa Rich in Woodquay, you hit a plethora of Asian businesses. If only someone would open a Korean restaurant – we’d be all set!
So where to start with this little gem of a restaurant? Well, there is a story, of course, behind it. And it all starts with us struggling to find a decent Chinese Restaurant. We lucked out with Japanese Food because we have Kappa Ya and every time I want my Sushi fix Wa Cafe is the only place I’d go to … but a decent Chinese takeaway? Not easy at all to find. They all have gloopy corn-syrupy sauces and almost every dish tastes the same. Yeuch.
Needless to say, when we discovered the award winning Asian Tea House, we just stopped looking. To dine in, or carry out, it fits the bill every time. Well, at least it did. But then a few months ago, we noticed a dip in the taste and quality of the food and started to get a little disenchanted with it. So we tried out a new place on the docks, where Bar 8 used to be, called Neo. Also delicious and designed as a carry-out where you can dine in. In other words, everything comes in cute little takeaway boxes and you dump it into a bowl yourself if you decide to dine in.
All well and good, but then less than a few months later, we see the flashing ‘open’ lights of Papa Rich go up and could not wait to taste their wares – only to find out that co-owner and executive chef Kevin, worked previously at both the Asian Tea House and Neo.
Galway is so small guys and dolls. You can taste the difference when a good Chef moves around, and as long as you can keep following the ones you love, then you should have no problems!
A lot of work has gone into the renovations of this little eatery. Papa Rich is located in Woodquay, above Bar an Chaladh, where Lunares Tapas Restaurant used to be. If you are familiar with McSwiggans, just stand with your back to their main door and look to the left and up a little.
Traipsing up the stairs is enough to whet ones appetite as the smells from the kitchen lead the way into the very comfortably decorated dining room. To get the nitty gritty out of the way, the most expensive item on the menu is ten euros. Yes. €10. So, lets just say, for the leaner months of your wallet, this is a welcome relief to all of us!
With open arms, we are greeted and seated by Rebecca, co-owner with her chef husband Kevin. This gorgeous couple from Malaysia have taken the brave and crazy plunge into entrepreneurship after years of working in the industry for other people.
‘The time was right. We had lived in Limerick for about 15 years and just wanted to do our own thing. We knew Galway was the right choice for us, and once we started looking, we found this spot pretty quickly. It was meant to be” said Rebecca. “Right now, we are in the honeymoon phase and our daughter Ruby, 18 moths old, is spending a lot of time with her Nana (my Mum Rachel) in Limerick. Once things are running smoothly we are looking forward to a nice balance of work and family time!”
Papa Rich’s attentive staff honed in on the tweens immediately, helping answer their menu questions. Rebecca explained that everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen (by her husband Kevin) so it might take a little while longer than traditional Asian restaurants.
We had plenty of time so settled in to our comfortable seats and watched the Saturday lunch crowd fill the 40 ish seat restaurant.
Now, any restaurant that has a shiny large bottle of Sriracha sauce on the table is going to lure me in, but it also raised an eyebrow. Himself wondered if that meant we had to ‘add our own heat’ which we could say is the norm for a lot of the Asian restaurants here in the west, as many establishments have adapted the menu to suit the tastebuds of the Irish. Note to readers … we did not need it!
The menu has little red flames after each item, alerting the diners to the level of heat they should expect, and once you choose 5-flames (and eat the dish of course) your photo is added to their ‘wall of flame’.
Rebecca rambled off a few specials of the day but it was a unanimous decision – Calamari to liven up the tastebuds.
As you can see from the photo, there was barely time to take a photo. I often regret bring the kids with me, as they have no patience when it comes to waiting for anyone to take a photo!
The freshness of the Calamari, dredged in breadcrumbs and fried lightly, was sublime and the crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw drizzled with a light coconut and peanut dressing – also delicious.
There were a few referencers to ‘Grandma’ on the menu so we asked Rebecca what that was all about:
“Grandma’s curry, is inspired by Kevin’s grandmother. She is such a good cook. She cooks food and the taste will make memories as Kevin would say! A lot of our dishes are inspired by family recipes, Kevin’s mum, his grandmother, and my mum (Rachel) too, oh and also his grandpa’s recipe for the sauce on the BBQ RIBS, except Kev ads a bit of a sneaky twist to it!”
You gotta love a restaurant that involves the whole family. Rachel and Kevin live only a short hop from the city centre and her aunt and uncle live nearby too and offer extra support; This is truly a family-run restaurant!
Of the four main courses we ordered, each one was quite unique in the sense that all sauces and broths were very different and we all ‘had’ to share.
I am sure you are more interested in the crispy Chicken (above dish), which was gorgeous, but the real winner on the plate here was the onion slaw. We all love raw onions at Chez Wise, but this was unlike any slaw we had ever tasted before. It was a combo of green, white and red onions, with a nice coating (but not smothered) of home-made sweet chili sauce. Now, here’s the thing about sweet Chili sauce.
Its like Asian Ketchup – and I also hate ketchup. This had such a unique fresh taste, I was just delighted to scoff down the slaw. And, incase you are worried about the after effects of raw onion (on your breath or otherwise) fear not, there was enough vinegar to treat the onions, so the sharpness had dissipated and all that was left was sweet sweet crunchy yum! I will be asking for the onion slaw on the side next time I go back.
Himself had one of the Noodle Bowls, because this was something that is missing from other Asian restaurants in town. They either don’t serve them, or the broth sucks; Not so at Papa Rich.
Minced Pork and Prawn dumplings with Asian greens, Dan Dan noodles and a rich broth makes this the best €10 bowl of yum in town. Sweet mother is was spicy at only 2 flames – this was when we gave each other the happy nod of understanding. These guys are serving and selling their food according to how they think you should eat it. They are not quieting the flavour or flame and woo hoo … it was delicious right to the last fought-over drop!
Another dish, which was a huge hit with the kids, was this peanut sauce curry like dish. Battered Prawns, with mixed shredded veg, cherry tomatoes and pineapple all smothered in a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce. There was plate licking going on here lads; I was mortified.
I pine for a decent Pho. But again, nowhere in the city is serving a decent bowl of rich broth and noodles … until now that is. When I originally took a look at Papa Rich’s menu, my eyes just stopped right here on this dish and I knew it would be every bit as tasty as I needed it to be. It is not labeled as Pho. It is a Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl … but it’s Pho enough for me!
I chose to have Prawns with the Ho-Fun noodles and it came hopping out of the kitchen .. with Asian greens, mixed veg, plenty of coriander, lime leaf, basil, and mint in a gorgeous rich broth .. and some of their (need to buy some!) garlic chili paste. Oh sweet divine mother I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just bliss. Every bite. Every drop.
Food like this nourishes the heart and soul. Your eyes have feasted on pretty food, the service is attentive and not at all intrusive, and the water bottles were constantly kept full, just incase your choice of ‘flame’ was too brave.
And as if that was not enough, and there is no mention of it on their menu either, we were presented with a sampling of desserts. I, not having a sweet tooth, could not resist the homemade ice-cream with peanuts and oreo crumbs on top. More plate licking followed.
You do not need any excuses to go to Papa Rich for lunch – especially if you are working in town, at NUI Galway, or at the hospital. It’s a short walk in to Woodquay and the lunches are flying out of the kitchen – so tell your friends and co-workers! I can imagine if you were visiting a friend or family member, ill in hospital, that those broth soups would be a welcome relief from hospital food! Please take note, if I am ever in hospital, and you are coming to visit me, this is what I want!
As we were leaving, I noticed one of my work colleagues enjoying a delicious lunch with her hubby and was delighted that word has already gotten out about how excellent this new restaurant really is.
If I have not convinced you, why not check out the comments on Trip Advisor? I am going to put a review up there too … and I rarely do that!
That’s all for now guys and dolls … let me know if you try it out.
All I want this year, is a truly beautiful Galway Christmas.
Sadly, my children no longer believe in you; we never saw it coming.
One minute they were cute, small and believing, and the next thing we knew, they were lanky, long and thieving.
So this year I am requesting a few treats from a few of my favourite Galway shops making our Galway Christmas all the more special. Seeing as we are still planning on honouring the terms of our contract and plan on feeding yourself and the reindeers, I thought I might take advantage of you being none the wiser of the kids sudden state of awareness and ask for a few gorgeous Galway gifts – just for myself and himself this year, seeing as you do not have to blow the budget on the kids anymore! He does, after all, do all the feeding of you and your eight not-so-tiny reindeer.
So first things first … and in case you do not even know where to start … I am just gonna give you my Top Five or Seven Favourites … in no order of importance at all .. you decide Santa .. we have both been very nice (not naughty at all!) this year .. and to be frank, could use a little cheering up.
Let’s face it Santa. We, in Galway, have come a long long way in craft brewing over the last few years. Only last week I was blogging about the lads over at Galway Hooker Brewing because they have a new beer out that we love – so it’s simple. Please Santa – can we have some more? (Upcoming blog post later this week will be all about making a traditional Swiss Fondue using Beer – making it no longer a Swiss thang … totally giving it the Irish flavour it deserves!).
Yes – this one is for me. Or for any deserving lassies you know Santa. There is this gorgeous little shop at the bottom of town, on the Spanish Arch … called Cobwebs. Santa … it is a treasure trove of wearable history. Sure, they have gorgeous new shiny gems too, but it is the antique pieces that speak to me.
Ok – I know, I know. Nothing Irish (or Galwegian) about this one at all, right? Eh, no – wrong – dead wrong. See, Santa, there is a new bar and restaurant in town, where all the cool kids are hanging out, called Tribeton. And Santa … they have a massive selection of beautiful bourbons. So much so, that a gift certificate to Tribeton would be a total treat for the two of us Bourbon aficionados … t’would remind us our ole Kentucky home – well Cincinnati, Ohio but its on the border like.
Now, that is not to say that I would not be upset at all with a Gift certificate to our favourite, and in almost everyone’s opinion, the best restaurant in Galway.
Right. This one is kinda sorta for me, but I’m a-gonna be honest and tell you if you bestow a gift certificate upon me for this gorgeous shop, My Granny Likes it, I will most likely re-gift it immediately as I have been forbidden from ever going in there. Santa, they stock everything, and I mean everything from incredibly talented crafty and artsy Irish folk. My most sought after piece right now is a piece by Armagh artist Stephen Farnan .
My re-gifting efforts would not go to waste, as I would post lots of these cute colouring kits to my Irish friends and family, who are dotted all over the world and no doubt, missing the motherland at Christmas. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, but I am still sad that I can’t purchase these on line from this cute little shop – if you must pop in yourself, you will surely understand why I have been forbidden to go there.
Now Santa…..I know what you are going to say about this one. Yes. it is true, we do indeed have lots of our own butchered meat in the freezer for the winter. And when we do step outside of our own meat raring, it is to buy Pork (and this year Lamb) from our friends in Tipperary at OldFarm. But on occasion, himself and myself love nothing more than to sit down to a beautiful piece of crimson, marbled with intricate traceries of fat, grass fed beef.
Tormey’s Butcher Shop in the Galway Shopping Centre isthe only place we buy Organic Chickens, beautifully aged grass-fed Rib eye of Beef and (special order) Veal Chops. And before you go all crazy on me Santa, I am referring to the 35+ week old grass and milk fed Rose Veal, not raised in crates. In response to your concern though, some farmers have adopted more organic, free range operations for raising their calves. Crating is banned in a number of countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, and several states in the US. Sales of free-range veal have increased in recent years, which hopefully will prompt larger producers to change their farming methods.
Ok – I know I said I would only give you my Top Five … but I have worked up an unquenchable thirst while working on this list, so thought it best to add in a few of my favourite bottles of wine. We are promised a cold Winter here Santa in Galway. Nothing as cold as the North Pole like, but we are eagerly anticipating a few lovely long weeks of low lights and lazy days intertwined with blazing fires offering up a calmness @ChezWise like never seen before.
So first up for the wine fridge, how about a bottle of this flawless NZ Pinot Grigio? With it’s signature pale pink blush from the Pinot Grigio grape, we have been known to gift to our friends over the festive season .. and they too love it .. but then we are left with none for ourselves. .. and this makes me sad, Santa.
Another popular bottle of wine which you could happily bestow on us is this gorgeous oaky Sicilian red wine. The native Nero d’Avola grapes with the world travelled Cabernet, brings us a blissful blend.
Both of these wines, along with a massive amount more excellent wines, can be found at Cases Wine Warehouse along the Tuam road.
Last little mention goes to Solaris Teas. Santa, if nothing else, bring some home to Mrs. Claus for a well earned tea-break!
Right so Santa….. there you have it. A few nice treats for myself and himself … most of which will be shared with our friends and family because we don’t like to eat or drink alone … and because without our friends and family, life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it Santa?
We are gearing up for a lovely Irish Thanksgiving here with our friends and family in Galway this week. We hope, wherever you are in the world, you can take a minute out to offer up a little thanks for your health, your family and your friends.
That is all for now guys n’ dolls …. happy shopping!
It’s one of those days.
The weather, no, storm Abigail, has clenched her teeth on the West of Ireland and seems unwilling to release; even if we play nice.
I have received several requests from friends an family to met up for a cup of tea today, but I have insisted on doing nothing that requires me to get dressed. We declared today a pyjama day – and so it is.
Early this morning, I started Googling for some comfort food inspiration. Himself was in the throes of making a loaf of bread and we were undecided as to what our Sunday supper would consist of; neither of us felt like cooking.
Thankfully, himself had cooked a whole shank of veal yesterday, pot roast style, so that’s supper sorted then, but what about lunch?
Late last week, we had stopped in to visit our friends at Galway Hooker Brewery. They have another beer added to their repertoire, which we had yet to try.
The brewery was established in 2006, in Roscommon by two first cousins, Aidan Murphy (below) and Ronan Brennan. A couple of years ago, they decided to return the brewing operation back home to Galway, and they have been brewing and blossoming ever since.
This new (since earlier this year) India Pale Ale is excellent. Himself will probably never stray from their flagship beer (Galway Hooker Pale Ale) but I am always interested in finding a new beer, and I get especially excited when I find one that is homegrown.
The Galway Hooker India Pale Ale comes loaded with that hop filled flavour we love (and fun at 6.5% alcohol content!) and it was begging to be incorporated into our lunch plans. Hey, what else is a girl going to do on a dream wet wintry day in the west? Having a beer with lunch never sounds like a bad idea!
The soup is a bit tricky to make. Not in the sense that a novice cook can’t take it on as a challenge, just in the sense that it is easy burn it (as there is milk in it), and there is always the likelihood that the cheese will break and you will end up with lumpy soup. The key to your success, should you attempt to make this, is to keep the temp low on the stove when you add the cheese.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 60 g flour
- 950 ml chicken stock
- 1 bottle Galway Hooker India Pale Ale or any beer you like to drink
- 115 g cream cheese
- 450 g grated sharp cheese (we used Mossfield Organic hard cheese)
- 250 ml milk
- 1 teaspoon Colemans English mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and White Pepper to taste
- In a large pot sauté the onions, carrots, and celery and garlic in the butter. Put the lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and cook until soft.
- Stir in the flour, like you are making a roux and cook until thick and it browns just a little bit. Whisk in the chicken stock and simmer or a few minutes. Reduce heat leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for a half an hour, then using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables to produce a nice thick stock.
- Add the beer, followed by the cream cheese and handfuls of grated hard cheese of your choice, whisking all the time ensuring the cream cheese is smooth and the cheddar has melted. Do not let it come to a boil, as it will burn easily and boiling can cause the cheese to separate.
- Slowly pour in the milk, then add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, then bring the heat up just a touch to allow the soup to gently simmer. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve with a slice of toasted bread or your favourite crackers.
Now, I am not saying you should be drinking a beer on your lunch break tomorrow at work, but this is definitely one to tote with you to work in your Thermos.
Absolutely smooth and silky and the chicken stock keeps it light enough ensuring the texture is not gloopy when you get ready to serve it. I would refrain from using any kind of Mozzarella cheese, even if you just happen to have it in the fridge, as it is really annoying to end up eating a soup that just strings along on your spoon and won’t let go!
Right – tis almost supper time here at Chez Wise and time for someone to open a bottle of wine! I hope your weekend was nice and relaxing and you managed to squeeze in a bit of rest and relaxation before heading back to the grind tomorrow morning!
I can’t believe it myself to be honest.
This week – we are two years TV free at home.
I thought for sure himself would have cracked by now and fallen prey to the seductiveness of Sky or the lure of UPC offers that keep popping up in the daily post.
This little sticker on the letterbox will sort that problem out!
Last year, right around this time, I wrote about how it was to be TV free for a year. The kids all chimed in, as did himself, because clearly they were still feeling the withdrawal symptoms of going TV free at home.
This year, when I tossed the question about, I got nothing; Bubkiss.
They couldn’t be bothered even chiming in because the house is well and truly TV free, and I think they have all come to terms with the fact that the TV ain’t coming back.
One of the observations I have made, however, is that it honestly takes about a year and a half to break oneself (or actually one’s family!) of this highly addictive bad habit.
Before you go all defensive on me and cite the benefits of leaving the telly on to pacify a few kids while you make dinner, don’t worry, I totally agree that it is more important to feed the kids. But have a read of this article and this one and get back to me. There are scientific studies out there that state “TV can affect kids’ health, behavior and family life in negative ways.” The one that got me the most was that “time spent watching TV can take time away from healthy activities like active playing outdoors with friends, eating dinner together as a family or reading.”
In one of those studies, over 54% of families have the TV on when eating dinner. For the love of god people, if you are watching TV while eating dinner with your families, please stop now.
Time spent around the table with kids, while it might be stressful especially during the teenage years, dinnertime might be your only window into their souls. Even if they are hating on you … they will talk to their siblings and you can catch a glimpse of what’s going on in their worlds.
And if you want to take it one step further, cook with them. Although a big fan of myself and himself sticking together (it is us against them after all – we are totally outnumbered!) we have just recently started to divide and conquer. The kids, bless their organic fair-trade cotton socks, are mighty for doing the dishes after dinner, for the most part that is. There are times, usually at 6am in the morning, when I pull a plate from the cupboard and it is grimy, from a child in a hurry putting dishes away that may have never seen a dishwasher.
So now, he assigns a few of them to cook with him, week on, week off. On the week they cook – they don’t have to clean up and vice versa. Seeing as I am the original dishbitch around here, I am now taking more of an active role in make sure the shit gets done the right way every time, and in a timely fashion. Because, let’s face it, as much as we all know that ‘now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face‘, I would much rather be doing something A LOT more productive or relaxing! (you can thank me later for that ear worm!)
He has also just started to teach them how to bake bread (so far they have made Ciabatta and Danish. Sourdough is next weekend) and make the basic sauces. In a few months, maybe by the start of the new year, he is adamant that they will be able to cook supper for us, from start to finish, without needing any assistance from the Chef. Fingers crossed!
Ok – somehow I got sidetracked with kids and dishes and the real crux of the story has not yet even surfaced.
When I sat with himself and had a chat about being TV free for two years and whether or not he was ready to throw the towel in and get the TV back .. he was nowhere to be found.
Eventually, I found him hiding out in the bedroom reading yet another book. He is a trilogy kinda guy now guys and dolls – like Dan Brown and anything Scandinavia crime thrillers – any recommendations please leave them here in the comments and I can start looking for his Christmas pressie.
It took the first year to wean him of the TV and now, happily detoxed from telly in his second year of being TV free, I can’t keep up with his book buying and reading. No – he refuses to use the Kindle. No screen time for this fella unless its a rented DVD.
Sigh. My work here is done and it all happened without me even really trying.
As the years roll by us, and the kids take their leave from Tween to Teen … we are feeling them pull away in ordinary healthy ways. They are ready to be more independent in the way they dress and behave. We have very few opportunities to sit them down for a chat, without a scowl being on one of our faces, so meal times spent together – well this is truly treasured time. Sometimes we are so caught up in the parenting journey that seems to be without a destination. It can be beautifully uncertain and frightening. Full of bumps in the road – we just need to remember to take time out to appreciate the view along the way.
If you have been thinking about cutting back on overall TV time, then here are a few tips for you to get started.
Right – there is still a decent chunk of the weekend left – so off out for a walk and bit of fresh sea air today!
For five long years I have been receiving invites to attend Campo Viejo Wines #TapasTrail events in Dublin.
And then a few years ago, I started receiving invitations to attend Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail events in Cork.
Sounds a little like always the bridesmaid and never the bride for poor little Galway, doesn’t it?
Good news wine peeps! The folks at Campo Viejo Wines have finally seen the light and have given Galway a trial run with their #TapasTrail!
So, how was it then?
The whole idea of a #TapasTrail with Campo Viejo Wines, is that you pop along to four different locations in the city, guided by one of the expertly trained Campo Viejo guides. Ours did not pretend to know a ton about the wines, but by golly he was well versed in the history of Galway.
The way it works, is pretty simple. For €30 (tickets can be bought here) you get to enjoy four glasses of wine, in four different restaurants, all offering up a selection of interesting Tapas, paired with the wine.
We started our afternoon of fun meeting some old and new friends at The House Hotel. Although welcomed with a glass of the Campo Viejo Cava, Brut Reserve, we were introduced to the Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2010, as our wine of the evening.
Eh, what now? Ok, maybe I did not read the fine print on the aul invite. I thought it was four different wines in four different locations … but, eh, no. It was the same wine served in all four restaurants.
So………. that little snafu aside, everything went rather well to be honest.
We started with a gorgeous dish from The House Hotel which consisted of a perfectly balanced and chilled Gazpacho, grilled Prawns drizzled in a garlicky pesto oil, and a deep fried Pork Croquette in a finger licking mayonnaise.
Although we were allowed three hours to accomplish our tour and tastings on the #TapasTrail, we were hurried along to the next location, Cava Bodega, only to be halted along the street to be given a little history lesson.
Now, as the lion’s share of the group were from Galway, we all thought this was rather cheeky of yer man from ‘Kerry via Dublin’ to be giving us a history lesson on our own home town … but, wouldn’t you know, he knocked it out of the park.
Hats off to Campo Viejo Wines for this one – they clearly recruit avid historians with a love for all things history, food and wine!
Moving on, our stay in Cava Bodega was all too brief. The food came flying out of the kitchen, and the wine was pre-poured and ready to drink when we were seated in the main upper room of the restaurant.
The pinchos, made with slow cooked pork belly were devine melt in your mouth little bites of heaven, but the bread was a bit stale so there was les of the melting; the Patatas Bravas – sorry but I can’t get excited about a fried potato with mayonnaise … and then … there was another dish with chick peas and black pudding … the chick peas were great and would have been excellent served alone …. but with the black pudding? No thanks. Unless it is fried and crispy I am not interested, and this black pudding just ended up being a soggy mess served in a bowl with tasty chickpeas…
Moving on, we were walked, the long way around through the city, over to Sheridans Cheesemongers who have a quaint little wine bar above the cheese shop. Seamus Sheridan popped in to give us a little talk about Food Provenance, and had the crowd in stitches with his stories. You can always depend on Seamus for the entertainment.
The food, a selection of excellent cheeses, and a (sparse) sampling of Spanish Serrano Ham and Chorizo, all served with (stale) bread.
I know that is the second reference I have made to stale bread .. but hey, I am married to a baker, and he was my date for the afternoon .. it’s one of those silly little things that lets you down … most decent breads freeze really well, then a few minutes in the oven, right out of the freezer, can give you a fresh loaf of bread in a jiffy – there is little or no excuse for stale bread folks.
As we moved on, our wine guide explained that the concept of pouring the same wine and each of the locations was to show us how versatile the wine really is, and that it can indeed be paired with just about any type of food.
As we were headed to the Kitchen Café at the Museum, I had already had enough of the red wine and was dying for a cup of tea .. no joke.
But, that was not part of the plan, so more red wine was had. Hey man, when in Rome, right?
Michelle Crehan, a GMIT Culinary Arts graduate, had lined up a beautiful Limoncello Cake and Chocolate Truffles to be paired with the wine. This went down very well with the group and I even overheard a few people ask for more!
So to wrap things up, let me tell you what I really think about the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway.
I think it was a lot of fun. I think, for €30, I would have preferred to try at least three if not four different varieties of their wines. I also think, if on a first date this is a great idea, or could be a lot of fun if you wanted to entertain your employees for an evening.
If you are in the mood to get drunk or explore new wines, this ain’t for you, because 1. They pour small amounts, which I was happy to see, and 2. You would only be exploring one wine.
There are still two evenings of the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway left to go (Wed. Sept. 2nd … 6pm and Wed. Sept. 9th…6pm).
If you want to buy tickets .. click here.
On a side note, the best dish of the evening goes to The House Hotel – hands down an winner. I have never had a good reason to write about the food at this location, or the drinks for that matter, and I even recall once when one of their bartenders did not now how to make a Negroni or a Dirty Dirty (Gin) Martini so I lost interest. AND, like many hotels, it suffers from common symptoms of ‘tastes like hotel food’ disease. Himself and myself have taken note of the deliciousness we tasted tonight and will report back in a month or two after we sample it again a few times.
That’s all for now folks … everyone is back to school and work this week – so the traffic is gonna be mental – remember – stay calm … this too shall pass!
Campo Viejo Wines did cover the cost of our afternoon soiree swilling wines and eating Tapas in Galway this afternoon. They did not ask for a damn thing in return. I decided to blog about this one because I am always sceptical about these tours and trails – they just sound a bit gimmicky and like they might be a tourist trap … this one was great fun and we had might craic with new and old friends.
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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