Articles by " WiseMóna"
Apr 10 2014

Education Matters

Posted by     No Comments    in The Snug

Quad

Hi there …

Just a quick hello and brief update on where I am hanging out these days. College classes are over and I have completed three quarters of the MA in Journalism at NUIG. I have still to hand in a 15,000 word Thesis (not due until August) and I also have to complete a work placement experience – which I will be graded on too.

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The first work placement I have undertaken as part of the course is in the national office for  Education Matters – their HQ is conveniently located on campus here at NUIG. If you have never heard of them, you can pop over and have a look at their website right here. They produce an annual publication (A professional handbook of Educators in Ireland) – this is  a useful tool for teachers and parents.

Say for example, if your little Johnny wanted to study medicine in college next year, then you could pick up a copy of this book and have a look at the who’s-who in Education … I am not encouraging helicopter parenting, but I’d be lying if I did not say I was  interested in finding out a little bit more about the teachers who are currently teaching my kids and the ones we have yet to meet.

Twitter - April 8th 2014

I, along with my college colleague Caroline Duggan, will be blogging and Tweeting and sharing links over on Facebook  regarding all things EDUCATION.

Facebook - April 8th 2014

If you have an interest in this topic – and I think most pepole do – then pop over and have a read. The first post we launched yesterday is all about how teachers can foster creativity in the classroom and how they have inspired their students to go forth and be fabulous.

We have hot topics lined up to review with all the readers – I’d love to hear your feedback on many or all of them.

Why? Because Education Matters …

WiseMona

Mar 25 2014

I need to know … am I wrong?

Posted by     49 Comments    in Kids, Kitchen

Todays topic is always at the epicentre of every argument I have at home with the kids, of which there are four  – ages 8, 9, 10 and 12.

CHORES.

 

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Up until recently (before they all entered the age of reasoning – which some say it is 8 years of age, and they are right!) the kids towed the line and did their daily chores, for the most part.

I am not talking hard core labour here, just chores that we consider ‘normal’ in most family households:

-   setting the table, clearing the dishes after breakfast and supper, then loading the dishwasher,

-  bringing down their dirty clothes hampers, folding and putting away their own laundry,

-  occasional sweeping of the floors

Now that the age of reckoning has arrived, we are hearing a lot of dramatic resistance to simple requests and the thing that concerns me the most is the statement they reiterate over and over again.

‘None of my friends at school have to do chores’.

None. Not even one. Nada. Nothing.

Now, I am not one of those Mother’s you can fool easily.

I am always up before breakfast so to speak … and I start my day off in a quiet reflective contemplative manner … enjoying the sunrise … like this morning …

 

Sunrise

Typically, I don’t believe a word out of their mouths if it starts off with ‘all my friends’ … because I don’t know their friends or their friends Mum’s and Dad’s all that well, so it’s just heresay as far as I am concerned.

But you know what … I kinda believe my kids. I am getting the impression, perhaps I had a moment of blind weakness this morning, that maybe there are a lot of parents out not doling out the chores to their kids?

The way I see it is as follows – if you have kids maybe you can slot yourself into one of the following three categories:

(A) you give the kids age appropriate chores (like I listed above)

(B) you never give the kids chores and you/your partner do them yourselves for a quiet life and because you feel that this is your job/responsibility as their parent

(C) Neither of the above because you pay for domestic help and no one has to do the bothersome household chores.

Readers … tweeters … peeps and pals …. I need to know – do you get the kids to help out with the chores around the house?

If you are unwilling to respond in the comment box below – will you send me an email at MonaZWise@GMail.com – thanks.

Ok – less than 6 days of classes left before I finish the MA in Journalism at NUIG.

Imagine. It only took me FIVE YEARS to get here!  Ok – technically I am not finished until I complete my work placements and write my 15,000 word Thesis – due in August … but I am no longer tied to a classroom effective April 4th.

I will have soooo much more time on my hands to do laundry and sweep the floor.

Keep the faith lads and ladies … the sun is still shining bright in Galway – FUN and frolicking will resume soon.

Móna

Mar 11 2014

Morton’s of Galway

Posted by     4 Comments    in Reviews

 

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Morton’s of Galway

Purveyors of cheese, fresh fish, bespoke butchering and beautiful breads all washed down with a wonderful selection of wines.

Salthill (beside the Warwick Hotel), Galway

(091) 522-237

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Odd, considering my husband has been baking his little heart out here for four years already, that I have not blogged about it before.

A small little shop on the edge of Salthill and only a stones thrown from the beach, you will be surprised to find so much crammed into this little shop.

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Maybe I was just waiting for him to settle in? To make sure that he liked it enough to stay there?

When we moved back home to Galway in 2008, it took him a long time to settle.

The first place he worked at was too big, the second place treated their employees like dirt, and now – just like Goldilocks – this little gem of a shop seems to be just the right fit for himself.

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It’s the cake job really – as he only works Monday through Friday from 8am – 2pm and has weekends and bank holidays off.

His baking day starts the night before … at 7:30pm he starts a mix called ‘Poolish’ which is used for his daily white breads which consist of Ciabatta, Foccaccia and Pizza.

He also keeps his sourdough fed here at home and another tub of it at work and makes several loafs of beautiful Sourdough each day – selling an 800g loaf for €2.00.

The prices on the other breads range from €1.50 – €3 per loaf.

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Aside from all the bread, they also make a delicious selection of ‘foods-to-go’ each day and this is where the shop becomes a one-stop-shop kinda place.

Traditional dishes like Fish Pie, or Shepherds Pie and a couple of Pasta dishes line the shelves, and occassionally Paella is thrown in to the mix –   keeping it affordable at €5.99.

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It is the kind of shop you almost have to go out of your way to pay a visit too – due to the location and it not being city-centre – and I just wanted to let you know that it is certainly worth your while.

Eric Morton, the owner, has excellent taste and passion for wines. You can see this with the selection he has on offer. The wines are priced well and there are always a few gems in the bargain bin.

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He’s a dab hand at selecting cheese too – so if you are trying to put a birthday basket together for someone, or even a small hamper for your Mum on Mothers day (March 30th in Ireland) then seek him out for a bit of advice. He is only too happy to help and they make gorgeous gift baskets. Hint hint honey …

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Over at the deli counter the Morton’s crew are ready and willing to take your loaf of bread and turn it into a nice big fat sandwich. They have a fine selection of cured meats, cheeses and roasted veggies for you to choose from.                 If the sun sticks around, I reckon this is the best place to grab a to-go lunch and hit the prom for a lovely walk filling your lungs with the sea air.

Morton’s is less than a fifteen minute (with long legs) walk from  Galway city centre and if you have never popped in for a visit, now is a great time because the bread is just popping out of the oven!

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He also does speciality birthday cakes etc. so ask for Ron when you stop in – he loves to talk bread with anyone.

That’s all for today folks …

I just submitted my first ever effort at a radio documentary – it turned out alright. Have a listen if you have 30 minutes to kill on your daily commute.

We are finally starting to see a little sun here in the West and with only a few more weeks of class left to finish up my MA in Journalism … I have spring fever . .

Watch out world .. hibernation has ended!

WiseMóna

Feb 17 2014

{Giveaway} Belleek Castle, County Mayo

Posted by     105 Comments    in Reviews

Belleek Castle

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A few weeks ago … right after I had finished my Winter exams at college, we were invited down to Belleek Castle for a night of fabulous food, wine and companionship.

Their chef, Stephen Lenehan, whom we had met at a Slow Food Mayo event previously,  has been the executive chef of Belleek Castle for more than 20 years. If you ever find yourself in Ballina, County Mayo, you really have to put this place on your list. There is no shortage of things to see and do in Mayo.

Belleek CAstle

There is a growing trend in us stumbling upon Chefs in Ireland who like to grow their own food and feed it to their customers. A few years ago, Stepehen had a mighty sized polytunnel installed right outside his kitchen window and he is still shocked at the volume of vegetables he is now producing from this invenstment. Last summer, he actually ended up giving away some of their produce.

The Castle, lets call it a Boutique Castle as it only has a few rooms to offer, is situated in the heart of Ballina town and is deffinelty the best kept secret we have stumbled upon.

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Greens from the tunnel are offered on most plates not just as a garnish, but as a comfortable portion, so you don’t feel like all you are getting is meat and potatoes.

In saying that make sure you order the Fillet steak – the presentation is unique and fabulous – think flames and Jameson – tableside.  This style of presentationt works excellently well because of the venue. The steak was cooked to perfection and make sure you insist on trying their side dish of potato gratin with a mashed carrot and parsnip mixture sandwiched in the middle … then roasted in the oven. I have had dreams about this dish. So filled with flavours and textures.

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Our favourite dish, was so simple – but so memorable –  Cashel Blue cheese caviar using tapioca. It was excellent and so unique, perfectly executed and shows imagination. We LOVED this dish.

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The portions throughout were perfect size and thankfully not too much at all. This can be a concern when you see tasting menus offered and I always steer clear of them because its just too much food. These guys have a great grasp on balance-on-the-plate, with plenty of choices for even those with the most discerning of tastes.

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Paul Doran, the owner of the castle, has shown true taste when assembling the wine list. His educated palate spills out over the Belleek Castle wine list which encompasses a wonderful array of wines ranging from quaffable to sophisticated. The wines we chose (a Pinto Noir from Russian River Valley) and also the Kracher dessert wine, were both outstanding and priced accordinlgly; refreshing to see these days. I highly recommend you stay up to date on the Wine event dinners they have at Belleek throughout the year. You can click on this link here to connect with them on Facebook. They are also the most perfect venue for a wedding … incase you are looking for that very romantic spot.

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The service over all – front of the house and in the dining room – was excellent and a credit to whomever runs the training program at Belleek Castle.

As we overnighted, I was a little hesitant to accept an invite to join Stephen and his wife Lily (who is also a chef and works alongside her husband in the kitchens at Belleek Castle) for breakfast because, let’s face it, there are very few hotels that do breakfast well. Imagine, me sitting there fussing because my eggs are overcooked. These guys don’t mess around. They have a breakfast chef who comes in every morning just to take care of the residents at Belleek. First class breakfast and not the boring old Irish breakfast in a buffet set up either.

The scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and selection of brown bread was wonderful. The omelette was nice and light, plenty of flavour and to my surprise and delight the coffee was excellent too. I could tell there were coffee lovers in the house.

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The folks at Belleek have given us treat for our readers here at WiseWords. How would you like to get away for a night and enjoy dinner for two, plus bed and breakfast in the beautiful boutique Belleek Castle?

I know we do giveaways on here, and you always think, ‘man, I never win anything’ but this one is different.

I am picking the winner myself instead of using the random selector app.

I want you to leave a comment below, in your most poetic tone, telling me why you want or need this (very romantic) night away at Belleek Castle in County Mayo.

Same rules apply, you must be a WiseWords subscriber in order to be eligble for this giveaway. You can sign up right here.

Best of luck. I’ll be picking the winner on Friday 28th of February, 2014.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

PS – and incase you were wondering .. all of the images used in this post were taken by Paul Doran, the castle owner. I would normally only use my own photos but we were there in the depth of dreary winter and the camera did not capture what I wished to convey.

AND THE WINNER IS …. well desired too I am sure.

Enjoy the break!

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Jan 29 2014

Cook Book Club at Kai Cafe Galway

Posted by     6 Comments    in Reviews

Call us nerds if you will, but spending the evening curled up with a book by the fire is not a bad way to unwind after a crazy day at work or school.

A lot of times, the books we reach for … are cook books. Some tell more than a story of food and many are love stories – be it a love for food or family. They all have the power to whisk us away to another place, albeit it temporarily, allowing us to take a mental break from our daily dose of stress and worry.

Last night, we had supper at Kai Cafe in Galway. Four or five times per year, Jess Murphy, who in our humble opinion, is Irelands most innovative female Chef, takes recipes from her favourite cook books, and creates an evening of excellence in food exploration for her customers.

KAI

She challenges herself and her crew to stay true to the recipes in the book, pushing her right out of her comfort zone and hoping to heck that her cult-like followers, who dine frequently at Kai, will appreciate her efforts.

Last night, Jess cooked several recipes from Roberta’s pizzeria in Brooklyn, NYC. Their book is filled with quirky recipes ranging from the three-cheese-but-mostly-Talleggio cheesy pizza to Tripe stew and Parsley cake for sweet treats.

I am not sure how Jess made this menu work – but she and her team pulled it off deliciously.

The cost, to attend is €35 per person and possibly one of the best ways to take the plunge and try a few new dishes. Everything is served on large platters and shared at communal tables, so you can take as little or as much as you like of each taster plate. This works well because sometimes these multi-course suppers offer lots to choose from. This way you remain in control of how much you want to scarf. . . most likely all of it.

Jamie Food Blogger

Next month, Jess is featuring our book, The Chef and I, at her Cook Book Club.

This is bound to get interesting because Ron, ‘aka the Chef’ is a total bad ass control freak .. so he is going to be all up in her business that day making sure that everything is just right … ha ha .. not really.

He does plan on lending a hand that afternoon to help do the dishes etc. but Ron trusts Jess – she knows his style and we are certain she and her crew at Kai will do a stellar job recreating his recipes.

A few weeks ago, Jess and her husband David, who runs Kai cafe with her, came over for supper and we perused the pages of our book to see which items we might share with Jess customers. Many of whom we know, because Galway is a small city, but also many who have never heard of us or tried Ron’s food.

The menu might look something a little like the items listed down below but it is still not set in stone …. and for our American friends and family, sorry to drag you through a Rondo’s revival … but these recipes are still ‘da bomb’ and Ron is so excited to be able to share them with our friends and family in Galway.

Mussels Diavolo

Mussels Diavolo -

 

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Eggplant Napoleon

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Eggplant words

Trout Dijon

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Trout Dijon words

 

 

BBQ Ribs served with Coleslaw and Chorizo Mac n’ Cheese

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BBq Ribs words

 

Bread Pudding

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Bread Pudding words

Wise Irish Coffee

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Irish coffee words

 

If you would like to attend … please phone them at   353 (0)91 526003  or drop them an email at  kaicaferestaurant@gmail.com to reserve your table.

Ron and I look forward to seeing you there!

WiseMóna

 

Jan 13 2014

Want to go to college? It’s not too late.

Posted by     No Comments    in The Snug

October 2007 – we upped sticks in the US and moved to Switzerland. I had a one year contract with a large insurance company and we were ready to ‘do something different’ and live closer to my siblings and Mum – all scattered across the continent between Ireland, France and Switzerland.

In August 2008 – right before our eldest was ready to enlist in school – we headed back to Ireland. The fact that education is still free (for the most part) in Ireland played a huge part in our decision making.

NUIG lawn

Now, all four of our children are enroled in the local national school (the same one my siblings and I attended as children) and they are all thriving, thanks to my Mum mostly, as she picks them up from school 4 days a week to ‘do the homework’ with them. We have somehow managed to keep a harmonious work-life-study balance here at Chez Wise.

In September of 2009 – I began my own education journey. I applied for, and was accepted into a four year undergraduate course studying English literature and German language studies with a specialism in Creative Writing.

Even with a rock solid support system at home with my Mum, and very understanding husband, this was not easy. It was damn near impossible to graduate … but I did (with honours) and am now sitting at my desk (back) in college with a final 12 week semester ahead of me – finishing up an MA in Journalism.

Although very blurry – when I look back over the last five years I can honestly say I never saw this coming; This love for education that is.

Sure, I had hoped I would not flunk my exams and flop out of college – and having come through at the other end, I can tell you I totally understand why people DO DROP OUT of college courses. It is bloody hard.

But the rewards are great. The friends I have found, the experiences I have had, and the contacts I have made have all helped me get where I am today. We are working on job placements this week – and the good news is folks – there are LOTS of opportunities out there. So many, my head hurts from all the decision making I will have to do before the week is over.

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If you are thinking about going to college, be it first time around or a wish to do something different, then now is the time for you to apply. The Central Applications Office deadline is February 1st, 2014. You can apply online right here.

NUIG BA in Journalism prospectus (page 2)

NUIG BA in Journalism prospectus (page 2)

If you are interested in Journalism – there is an excellent new undergraduate program right here at National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) – you can read all about that right here.

Also, if you are in receipt of social welfare, and have been for longer than 9 months, you will almost certainly qualify for the Back to Education allowance scheme which will enable you to receive an income whilst you study. In essence, you will be paid to go to college as opposed to receiving a social welfare payment to sit at home twiddling your thumbs. In addition to that, citizens and residents of Ireland are elegible for free fees (based on previous years income).

If this is something you have been toying around with, mulling over, himming and hawing over, then this is the year to do it. The economny is showing signs of life, and the forecasters are making statements that the worst is over and the economy is bouncing back – but I think it will take a few years before we see a drastic increase in unemployment in Ireland.

This is my public service anouncement for January. Just do it.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

WiseMona

 

Dec 19 2013

Mmmmmmm …….. Beer

Posted by     22 Comments    in Reviews

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This is it… the end of the year.

Typically, at this stage of the game, I like to do a small recap on how things are going – you know, a ‘state of the nation’ kind of update  –  but I needed to get one last ‘blog’ post out there before all hell breaks loose this weekend. My sister, her husband, and their four kids are descending upon us for the holidays and we might all ‘switch off’ and enjoy the quietness and calmness that comes over all of the kids when they get together every year.

Yep. 8 kids under the age of 13 … quiet and calm.

Needless to say, this might explain why we are moving rapidly on to the subject of Beer.

But not just any old Beer. Real. IRISH.Beer.

You may or may not know this but the Chef & I met in a brewery. I was a radiant young Irish girl working in a bar in northern Kentucky and he was the Chef. There was a strict dating policy in the company – where you could not date your co-workers, so after a few months of cajoling and breaking down his will to stay single, I managed to get him hooked-on-love, and then I fired him. This is a true story. He still holds ill will towards me for this small blip on the radar of our almost 20 years of togetherness.

Aside from that little bump-in-the-road, we both also fell madly and hopelessly in love – with Beer. He was, up to that point, a bit of a mamby-pamby ‘eye-talian’ wine drinker, as he had spent oodles of time working and traveling around Italy – and I was still just not much of a drinker. I’d chance my arm at a Gin & Tonic, or hot whiskey on a cold night, but had no grá for beers or wine at all. I could probably blame my parents for letting us try the shocking bad sips of Blue Nun or Liebfraumilch at Christmas … acid in a bottle guys. Don’t go there.

Anyway, there was this guy named ‘Beer Dave’ (Dave Gausepohl) who worked with us and he taught us everything we needed to know about finding the beer that would suit our tastebuds and how to pair them with food and sell them. I really love Beer Dave – and have never forgotten those lessons.

When we moved back home to Ireland in 2008 – after a brief stint in Switzerland – I was sad and annoyed to see that Guinness and Smithwicks were still ruling the rails at the local pubs and – worse even, my Irish compatriots had developed a taste for Coors Light, Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft.

There was no sign of the massive micro-brewing movement that the US had experienced ever hitting our shores. We were forced to drink Sam Adams and Chimay (which incidentally I have always and still really love both of these) – but I honest-to-gawd hated not buying a local brew at the pub.

THEN – as if by magic, a few good men started making their own beers. Now, we have so many little micro-brewed beers available to us I have actually lost count of them all. I’ll bet there are more than 10 – hey, we are a very small island.

** I stand corrected – Andrew from Beoir just alerted me to the fact that we have now THIRTY breweries on the island. I am not sure if this includes the likes of Guinness et al – but will update ‘all later once I get that ironed out  **

What is Beoir?

Beoir is an independent group of consumers with a primary goal of supporting and raising awareness of Ireland’s native independent microbreweries. You can read more about Beoir here. AND if you are a beer lover – you should join their organisation. Its only a tenner. Perfect stocking stuffer methinks!

………and there is more from Sara over at BeerIsland.ie -

We currently have 37 craft brewing brands trading, I believe, but in 2014 we will have about 50 craft brewing business operating on the island of Ireland. There are about 30 new startups launching in 2013-2014, and about 20 more established craft breweries.

http://beerireland.ie/craft-brewers/

 

…….. Sheeseh – lads, start drinking!

The key thing about these beers and their brewmasters is this: THEY ARE ALL EXCELLENT.

For serious.

I have put together a small list below of our Top Six Irish Beers – all available at Cases.ie (and even if Peter is sold out of some of them – he can hook you up with a fab mixed case).

If you are wondering what to get a special someone in your life, and you know that they LOVE real Beer – then look no further. The mixed case idea is one of the most delicious treats we have stumbled upon. One small thing to mention here before y’all go complaining that all the hops and barley and grains etc. are not all grown in Ireland (mostly UK and Germany) – well, yes, I know that. So technically, it is Irish made, but the ingredients are not fully Irish. Stop complaining. Life is too short.

Here we go and in no particular order …. because I have all of them in my fridge and can’t wait to crack one open!

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With a name like Galway Hooker - you can’t go wrong. This is a gorgeous year-round drinker and is for sure a favourite of so many people in the West.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.22.31 The two lads that are making this beer have done an excellent job supporting local events, getting their name and their product out there. And now, there beer is available at several locations.

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Oh – make me wish for summer and an ice cold bottle of this fair beauty. Dungarvan Brewing company  have currently seven beers to offer us and it seems there is no end to their creative juices down in Waterford. Keep ‘em coming!

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Sometimes, I call ahead and ask restaurants and cafés if they stock this. I kid you not. Gorgeous.

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A totally surprise from the midlands! We sampled A few beers from Bo Bristle Brewery earlier in June this year when we popped over for a summer BBQ to our friends at OldFarm pigs, pork and more.

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They had gotten a few sample bottles to try and we did not want to go home without them. Full of hops and body. Great personality in every bottle.

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These guys, at Eight Degrees brewing down in Cork, nailed it first time around with their ‘Howling Gale’ ale. Always in the fridge here at Chez Wise and especially during the long hot summer months … ha ha … ok, still delicious in the rain. I hear the Aztec Stout is of ‘award winning’ calibre but have yet to try it. Dear Santa ..Beers with attitude indeed.

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Another excellent Galway brewery – Galway Bay Brewing Company – now have four excellent beers on offer and as they are making everything in small batches I reckon we will see them branch out soon and be even more adventurous.

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And LAST but by no means LEAST I give you … my most recent delicious discovery .. dear Santa … I have been a very good girls this year. A mixed case of White Gypsy Beers for Christmas – oh me – oh my.

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The nice thing about these beers – is that they come in a bigger bottle and have a little bit more volume of alcohol – so perfect to share with someone. One bottle is enough.

What we loved about these beers – the Dubell and the stout in particular – is that even a week or ten days later, we are still talking about the beers. They have staying power. The flavours are so concentrated that the first sip is a bit of a shocker and then immediately your mouth starts salivating and you can’t wait for more. They taste like MORE.

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How lucky are we – to have all these excellent beers available to us – when just over 5 years ago, ’twas slim pickings.

I know I am always reminding y’all to support your local communities by buying local products, and I am especially going out of my way to help you with your gift giving this year.

You can’t go wrong if you pick and choose from the list above, and if in Galway – pop in to the Salt House to try most of these and a hell of a lot more excellent beers!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

WiseMóna

 

Dec 18 2013

To Máirín, with love …

Posted by     14 Comments    in Reviews

 

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Dearest Máirin,
 
I know this seems odd, a love letter from me, someone you have only met in the last few years, but as I told you that first time we met at a Slow Food event in Galway, I feel like we are kindred spirits.
 
Standing there, immaculately turned out, showing us your smart and sophisticated fashion sense, with your hands clasped and eyes glistening, we were never quite sure if you were going to burst into laughter, or tears, as you talked us through your journey of love, life, food and of course, family. Having a membership to the Slow Food organisation has many perks, and I have found over the years it is the place to meet the most authentic people. I only feel sad that our paths have not crossed sooner. This must be all part of the bigger plan though; the one neither of us can control.
 
Inviting me into your home and heart has only deepened my unquenchable desire to hear more stories from you, and to say you are an inspiration seems, well, not enough. But then I looked up the word inspire – the old fashioned way, in the dictionary – and the explanation nailed it in one sentence: 
Inspire: To affect, guide or arouse, by divine influence. 
 
You, so gracious with your time and tales, offer such strength and encouragement to younger women like me. Because you see Máirin, just like you, I want to find the courage to follow my dreams. Knowing you have done just that, gives me the motivation I need to work harder to achieve whatever I set my mind to. I won’t be waiting for someone else to come along and hand it to me on a silver platter.
 
Spending an afternoon with you at your home overlooking Galway bay, in Oranmore, sharing tea and smoked salmon pancakes, was the highlight of these past few months for me as a student. For most of my life, I have surrounded myself by strong courageous women of all ages. Women who can teach me something but are also eager to learn from me. Women who are willing to share their secrets and understand that in order to climb all the rungs on the ladder of success, we must support each other by offering encouragement and motivation. 

 

 
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Máirin, I want what you have. An insatiable zest for love and life. A passion for our national language and culture. A way with words that will whip anyone into shape, but caressingly so. An affection for friends that is relentless, a fondness for fabulous food and deep rooted knowledge of knowing what it takes to keep a family together –  creating an impenetrable bond. 

You truly do inspire me Máirín. Thank you for being such a rock xx 

Much grá … love Móna

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Earlier this year, I took a morning off college and hopped on the train to go watch Máirín in action as she and her team began shooting the food shots for ‘Celebrating Irish Salmon‘, Máirín’s 5th book.

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Her publishers (Vincent Murphy and Mary Ruddy from Artisan House) were kind enough to let me take a few photos – they were working with food stylist extraordinaire Tricia Doyle and award winning photographer Walter Pfeiffer.

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They, as a team, have produced the most beautiful book which is truly a celebration of Irish Salmon, the most noble of fish.

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I can only hope by the time I reach my seventies that I have accomplished half of the achievements Máirín has.

Book cover Salmon

Artisan House has given us a copy of the book to giveaway to one of our lucky readers here on the blog. Leave me a comment down below if you would like your name to be entered into the hat. Happy to ship it worldwide!

WiseMóna

A much longer interview with Máirín Uí Chomáin will be published in the Connacht Tribune in a few weeks. I will post it here once the paper has sold out!

Dec 12 2013

Had I not married a chef …. I would have totally married a farmer.

Posted by     13 Comments    in Reviews

Yesterday, I finished my final Christmas exams. A day earlier, I received a note from one of my lecturers – he has been my teacher for five years now – and he was alerting me to the fact that I was finished with exams – for-ever!

In January, semester 2 brings all project-based journalistic work to the forefront.  Right now I am gearing up to work on a radio documentary, learn how to shoot digital film for the internet, write a 15000 word thesis, and find a work placement … … pretty exciting few months ahead, that is for sure!

As a little reward to myself, I held off on reading a new book I recently purchased  – actually I purchased two of them but my Mother commandeered one immediately citing she had just the friend that had to read it. Go on Mother.

The author, Lorna Sixsmith, is one heck of a gal. A self described ‘fair weather farmerette’, she makes this farming business it all sound so glamourous. NOT.

I love the sound of Lorna’s voice and her laughter is ringing in my ears. You can listen to her having a chat about her book and farming in general with Ryan Tubridy on 2fm – right here.

would you marry a farmer front cover

 

I don’t think it was her intention to draft a helpful manual on ‘how to nab and marry a farmer’ – I think her goal was to write a witty guide to the realities of living the life of a farmers wife, and she did just that. I know Lorna personally – and I can have seen her on her farm helping her husband Brian with the cattle and carrying buckets of milk and helping stand in gaps to prevent a stampeded into the wrong field.

You will also be able to see her do all of this because her style of writing is so engaging, you will get sucked right in to the life of a farmers wife. You will probably even begin to day-dream a little bit about selling your townhouse and moving to the country to take advantage of all that fresh air and green spaces.

Ha! Lorna will keep you on your toes with a reality check of mud, muck, slurry and explain terminology like ‘yoke’ and ‘locked up’ and ‘synchronising heifers’ . . .

This is a brilliant guide, to becoming a farmers wife, or even if you want to branch out an do a bit of farming yourself.

3(a) hoppity dance

 

Lorna chose to have her book illustrated by a local artist, Joanne Condon (very talented too might I add) and these sketches flittered throughout the book bring her humorous stories to life.5 (e)gift

 

Lorna doesn’t sugar coat it … she writes quite tongue-in-cheek so by the time you get to the end of her book, if you are leaning towards marrying a farmer yourself, you will have a very clear understanding of what it is like to live and work on a farm in Ireland today.

I see nothing wrong in trading in the high heels for the wellies to be honest – I’d do it all for love, and I can tell that this is the most important thing in Lorna’s life – the love she and her farmer (Brian) share.

They have a lovely life, but they both work incredibly hard and are tied to the farm and the animals and the weather and the many many different types of rain we have in Ireland that has a massive effect on farming. But funny thing is, Lorna did not marry a farmer. Granted they both grew up on farms, but then they moved away (to the UK) and finished up their educations – her farmer going all the way to the PhD level, only to come back, with a baby in tow, to take over Lorna’s family farm.

I do not think they were able to stay away once the first child showed up – and now they have two gorgeous kids (Will and Kate).

We fell into the same trap ourselves. All was well and good in the USA – trucking along, living a grand old existence not really pining for ‘home’ because we were very much AT HOME, then BAM – first kid shows up and you start feeling a little blue that they might not never really get to know their cousins; and I have fabulous cousins – so this was important. Second baby shows up and double BAM – all of a sudden you are packing the whole fam-damily up into shipping container and headed home to the little green island. 

But I digress …

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This is a love story guys. Not the kind that is going to make you well up with buckets of tears, more the kind of story you hope to see turned into a movie some day. It has that ‘James Herriot – All Creatures Great and small’ feel to it. Honest, open, and what is so important these days –  authentic.

Would you Marry a Farmer by Lorna Sixsmith is a no-frills representation of farm, family and married life today in Ireland and I love it!

It is also a great reminder, for those of you out there getting ready to take a swing at your maybe-not-so-doting partner, that marriage is hard bloody work. The art of compromise is vital when you are living and working with someone 24-7 and Lorna brings the right amount of humour to the story, which is always a nice reminder – to keep laughter in the relationship.

Lorna has been kind enough to give us an extra copy  of her book ‘Would you marry a farmer ‘ as a giveaway.

I am picking the winner on Saturday (14th Dec) so you might even get this in the post (if in Ireland)  by Christmas if you win!

So here – answer her question in the comment box below in order to be eligible for a win:

‘Would you Marry a Farmer’ … and I want a few reasons why or why not.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

WiseMóna

 

Dec 4 2013

Integrity … got any?

Posted by     32 Comments    in The Snug

I know … it has been a while.

What can I say. I’m knee deep in exams covering topics like Media Law and Media Ethics.

The nerd in me wants you all to know that these topics are all riveting.

The creative side of me wants you all to know that I can’t wait to have a little more time to play on Instagram and show you how beautiful our little city of Galway looks this time of year.

I felt it was high time to address an issue that is on my mind a lot these days and it is:

Cyber bullying.

Now, here’s the thing guys, I spend A LOT of time in cyber space, so it is possible that at some point, I might be the recipient of a bit of backlash; I expect it actually.

If you put yourself out there and write openly and freely, be it for a newspaper or for a personal blog, then you open the door to invite all kids of crazy into your world. You’d want to have a very thick skin in order to survive as a journalist in the digital era – it is not a passing phase.

The good news is that here on my blog, I use comment moderation.

It means that I get to put the 3 R’s into practice: Read, Review and Respond.

This is very important to me and over the last few years I have received over 5,000 comments on my blog. That is not including all the responses I have made to (almost) each and every comment.

It is a personal blog and I like to keep it personal. I like to tell it how it is. Most of my readers love this and they trust that ‘what you see is what you get’. The code I adhere to is to always keep it fair and accurate, based on the experience I have had. If we receive something in-kind, or a payment to review a product, or freebies to giveaway on the blog, I disclose that information at the end of every blog post; Honesty is also another word to throw in the mix.

I remember a couple of years ago, someone asked me to remove content from my blog because they did not like what I wrote. They felt it was un-true. I was annoyed. Imagine if I went into a restaurant and asked the Chef to remove an item from their menu because I felt he was not cooking it properly?

Those chefs have sharp knives. I make every effort to steer clear of them. The relationship between chefs and critics will always be a bit dicey – won’t it?

I wanted to blog about it but instead had a chat about the whole thing with my eldest sister – she’s awfully solid and never gets too frazzled. She said ‘ignore it. No need to mess up your lovely blog with stuff like that. Your readers don’t need to see the behind the scenes crap’.

She was right … and I have continued to hit the delete button – to the tune of well over 2,500 comments that are from what we like to call internet trolls.

In Ireland, most of them hang out over here (look at the comments on some of their news stories then wash out your eyes!)

The way I feel when it comes to worrying about what others think of me, or my WiseWords, is it is none of my damn business what other people think of me. Now, if you go making it my business, how you feel about me, on several different very public social media platforms, then I suppose it would be silly of me not to get my knickers in a twist. I’d hate anyone, like my Mammy in particular, to think I was a bit of a doormat; Because,  I am not.

Anyway – my blog, my internet space is ‘moderated’ and for the most part, I am fairly well behaved on Facebook and Twitter.  I try to keep it light hearted and fun but always professional. You never know who is watching you on those social media sites. They are wide open.

And that my friends, can be where Cyber Bullying rears its ugly head.

Last week I broke all my rules – because some poor eejit a local chef – whom I have never met –  took to Twitter – accusing me of not having any integrity.

Well, first he accused me of having a chip on my shoulder, and I responded rather calmly thanking him for his feedback and let it go. I was not in the mood to ‘go there’. But, this is what we call ‘feeding the troll’ and it was my first mistake. I should never had responded. I should have just deleted the Tweet and carried on studying. But because I gave him attention, I was then subjected to a few more Tweets – in public AND a few private Tweets (direct messages).

Silly, silly boy.

As I had broken one of my rules already, I decided to catch a few screen grabs of all the nonsense and throw it up on my personal Facebook page to eternalise it forever. Please note, I chose NOT to put it on my WiseWords Facebook page … where there are over 4,000 readers.

Even though this man and I are not acquainted in real life OR on Facebook, he decided to follow me and keep at it.

Then – he made the mistake of taking a dig at the Chef …

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The digs kept coming and it was getting worse – challenging my integrity and also stating my work (writing) was unpublishable, so I decided it was time to name and shame. Please also note that this was all happening at 4pm (GMT) on a Friday afternoon. I had not even had a chance to crack open my first beer. Imagine if I had had a wee bit of Dutch courage on my side.

The support from all my friends on Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram) has left me floored. I love y’all muchly.

I am a blogger. Occasionally, my husband Ron and I review restaurants on our own dime and time. I will never aim be the best restaurant critic in Ireland – there are so many excellent ones already it is almost impossible to aspire to be in their league. We do it because we have worked in the service industry our whole lives. I write. He cooks. We know what we are talking about.

And here’s the thing. This is my FIFTH Christmas sitting at my desk studying for exams. I (first) went to college to learn how to write (for 4 years) and I am now in my final year mastering my craft. I may not be the best – but with a little more hard work I have the potential (and possibly the determination) to become the best. Also – incase you don’t like my constantly reminding you that I am in college – I am not highlighting the fact that college has made me smarter (even though I do hope it has just a tad) – I am highlighting the fact that I STILL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.

I will not stand for bullying. Not on my Blog, not on Facebook, not on Twitter and most importantly NEVER in real life. People that lash out on social media sites like this (especially if you have never met them in real life) deserve their name .. Troll.

If you want to play in my kitchen then my advice is:  know who has the sharpest knifes.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

All comments will be moderated so hit me with your best shot xx

WiseMóna

Please note that the negative comments all came from an employee of a local restaurant in Galway. I am not naming or linking to any of them because the owner has been in contact with me – publicly and privately – to apologise on behalf of his employee and to let me know that they do not share the same views.  I am happy to leave it at that. The culprit in question had also apologised publicly – but as expected – he deleted many of his silly negative comments from my Facebook page in the hopes that he might salvage the damage he had done. I felt it was my duty to resurrect his words and am using this to remind everyone, employers especially, of the following: Once you open your mouth and put something out there, in writing, on a very public platform – even after you delete it … it is there forever – eternalised for all to see. If you use social media for your business it might be high time you write up a code of ethics (click here for Social Media Training for SME’s) for your employees so they don’t ‘Tweet’ away the reputation you have worked so hard to earn. Consider the hatchet well and truly buried. 

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About Móna
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.
You can find me here
  • Contact Mona
Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

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