Clyde Court Hotel,
Wednesday, June 12th 2003.
She who made me a Mama … who we call Rory Belle ………
You handed her to me with care, she ………. but the size of a sugar bag.
Her teeny tinny little self, just squeaked occasionally, when something was to be had.
Snuggling in to me real close, she took to her Daddy too,
I never thought I could love so much … her, …. and even you.
I think of you so often, and am thankful for this child I call my own.
I hope the years have been kind to you, and far from yours, you have not roamed.
She has your fiesty nature, and even the same glint lights up her eyes,
and sometimes I catch streaks of red hair, and close my eyes with happy sighs.
She’s Mama’s little helper, but don’t let this photo fool you so,
because, like me, she’ll instruct you see – and make sure the BOSS everyone does know!
Her cheeks turn rosy red when colder weather comes around,
and no matter what the climate is, she’s never far from her hoodies … always laying on the ground!
Because we fed her early,
only four months old and she was eating well,
her appetite for lovely food,
will continue to grow as well.
And as I scoured through my files,
looking for photos to share with you,
you’ll notice that in many of them,
she’s never alone … there’s always two.
She loves her little bubby,
she is never far from his side,
and many times I have to separate them,
and the two of them I’ll chide.
Her other love is animals,
especially her puppy Pearl.
I cannot ever imagine her without
animals in her world.
And of course it always warms my heart,
so see the crazy messages she leaves for me.
Sometimes they are on the chalkboard,
for all the world to see.
But the thing I love about this girl,
and have done from the start,
is that you gave her willingly to Ron and I,
a huge piece of your own heart.
(and in our case … two large pieces!)
So know this lovely lady,
that your girl is safe and well.
Know that every day of these past ten years,
with love our hearts do swell.
Happy TENTH Birthday to our gorgeous funny bold brassy belligerent beautiful bossy baby girl – Rory Belle.
We have been parenting for ten years … isn’t that an accomplishment in itself!
Adoption (or fostering) is not for everyone; I get that. But if you have room in your heart and home for kids, then the funniest ones might just end up on your doorstep looking for a place to call their home. Be open to the wonderful way of building a family that is adoption (or fostering).
On a side note, we are parents of 4 kids but the HSE does not allow us to share photos of the other two. It’s a right bummer and I struggle with that particular rule – but it is a child protection law so we respect their wishes as it is in the best interest of the kids. Now you just have to use your imagination and picture two gorgeous red-headed and fair skinned freckled girlies that are as cute as buttons, growing like weeds and blissfully happy to be part of our wonderful weird Wise family here in Galway.
Those are all the Wise Words I have for today – off to help the Chef make a cracker of a birthday cake for our baby girl - Rory Belle.
In a few weeks …. our children will all be home for eight long lazy weeks of summer.
By the third day of this deliciously long summer holiday, I will have pulled out most of my (already short) hair and will be wondering, come August, why the teachers won’t take them back a week earlier than expected .
We have the world of respect for teachers here in this house. Mostly because they help shape the minds of our offspring whilst we work or study, but also because they have our children under their watchful eye for several hours a day – five days a week. We do not, for one second, worry about our children when they are at school.
We do, however, worry about the teachers; Our four alone would drive any teacher crazy.
Before school wraps up this year we will be making a gorgeous Rhubarb tea cake to share with the teachers at our children’s school.
You should give it a whirl too.
It’s just that good.
First, before the recipe … I have a small recipe for how to roast your Rhubarb. Use the roasted fruit for cakes and cheesecakes and the leftover syrup becomes the best base for one of my favourite summer cocktails or it is also excellent when poured liberally over pancakes.
Roasted Rhubarb Cordial
Cordials or syrups are an excellent way to preserve summer fruits and can make for a thoughtful house warming gift, or a welcome surprise in a student’s care package when the time comes. If you do not have a square of cheesecloth (or muslin) then best to invest in a piece as it comes in quite handy when dabbling in drinks and cordials in the kitchen. I am a dab hand at dabbling in drinks. It is what I do best.
What you will need
2 bunches of Rhubarb
200 g caster sugar
150 ml water
125 ml orange juice
2 vanilla beans, split
3 cardamom pods, bruised (or Star Anise would work fine too)
How to prepare it
Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC. Cut the rhubarb at an angle -about 6 cm in length. Place on a roasting pan and sprinkle with caster sugar. Add the water, orange juice, vanilla beans and cardamom pods. Roast in pre-heated oven, turning once, for 20 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but still holds its shape. (Although, it does not matter if it loses its shape). Remove from heat. Transfer the cooked Rhubarb to a bowl and pour the syrup into a pot and cook over a medium heat until the syrup thickens. Drizzle over the roasted rhubarb and place in the fridge to cool completely. For best infused taste, leave in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge and strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. (If your syrup has set up a little thick then you can heat it for a minute before pouring into strainer).
The cordial can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two months and is delicious poured over a stack of buttermilk pancakes or a piece of French toast and also works excellently in summertime cocktails. The left over roasted rhubarb can also be stored in an airtight container for two weeks and we love to use this as a topping for baked Rhubarb cheesecake too. (email me for the recipe at monaANDron@Sunday-Times.ie ).
A quick rhubarb whisky cocktail can be whipped up in a minute. Crush some ice and pack tightly into a medium sized glass. Mix the juice of one orange, half a lemon, 2 oz of whiskey, 2 oz of rhubarb cordial and a spring of mint and a dash of bitters in a glass. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with a slice of orange.
Ok – now that you know how to make the roasted Rhubarb … you can move on to this recipe and make the cake!
This is what the roasted Rhubarb looks like …. but the recipe calls for it to be baked into the cake so it looses some of its hot-pinkness when baked.
Don’t we all … heh heh!
- For the fruit
- 60 ml lemon or orange juice (2 lemons)
- 120 g light brown sugar
- 40 g cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp water
- 450 g Strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters
- 450 g Blueberries
- 450 g Rhubarb, roasted
- For the streusel topping
- 90 g flour
- 120 g light brown sugar
- 150 g whole almonds, crushed
- For the cake batter
- 275 g butter
- 360 g flour (we like to use Spelt)
- 150 g light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 360 ml buttermilk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Scrapings of a whole vanilla bean pod
- Preheat the oven to 175º/350F. Brush a 9 x 12 x 3-inch baking pan with butter, and set aside. Make the fruit sauce: Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the blueberries; cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until it begins to bubble. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with 3 Tbsp cold water and then pour into the blueberries, mixing with a spoon until it is well incorporated. You will notice the liquid has thickening after a few minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the strawberries, already quartered; let cool. Use the spears of roasted rhubarb too – but leave them aside until it is almost time to put the cake in the oven.
- Make the crumb topping: Combine 90g sugar and 90g flour in a medium bowl. Melt 30g butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Drizzle the butter over the flour mixture; using your hands, mix until crumbly. Add in the crushed almonds and set aside.
- Make the cake batter: Whisk together the remaining flour and sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Grate the chilled butter into the flour mixture and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla essence and vanilla pod scrapings. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture; stir to combine.
- Spread half the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Top with all the fruit mixture, including the roasted rhubarb too. Top with the remaining fruit sauce. If there is too much liquid, save some for pouring over the cake later after it has baked. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
- Bake for 1 hour at 175ºC until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched in the center. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.
Ok … a smooth enough re-emerging of sorts back in to Blogtopia. I have just finished up four years of college and one of the hardest years of my life … Thanks for all the well wishes and flowers and presents etc. I am back on my feet, taking long strides again, kicking ass and taking names.
On a side note, and because many of you have been asking me, my next blog post is going to be titled ‘What comes next’ …. so stay tuned.
That’s all folks … back on the bandwagon!
14-16 Churchyard Street
Tel: 091 564 829/564 832
What’s not to love, right?
Before we kick off here .. most of these images (except for the last one) were taken by Galway’s fabulous photographer Reg Gordon and he – being a total gent – gave us permission to use them.
From their website :
Sheridans Cheesemongers is run by its’ owners – Kevin Sheridan, Seamus Sheridan and Fiona Corbett. The company was founded in 1995, when brothers Seamus and Kevin started selling Irish farmhouse cheeses at the Galway market. Shortly after we opened a shop in Galway with Irish farmhouse cheeses piled from floor to ceiling. Fiona joined in 1997 and Dublin markets and a shop on South Anne Street in the city centre were established that year. The Irish cheeses were quickly joined by their European cousins as well as a huge range of other artisan foods including olive oils, cured meats, condiments and pasta sourced during travels in Europe.
Sheridans is more than just your ordinary cheesemongers. Sheridans is where the locals go to have a glass of fizz before dinner and a snifter of Port wine before bed. A place where tables and chairs mesh together at the sound of footsteps climbing the stairs to the wine bar – right above the cheese shop. A place where you go when you are hungry and will be sated when you leave thanks to the food, but more so, thanks to the company you will keep.
Sheridans … go there … Eat cheese and drink wine … you’ll feel like a Galwegian instantly.
Although they have been in business since 1995 (read all about how they got started) I did not get to know Seámus Sheridan until late 2008 when I moved back to Ireland after having lived abroad for almost 15 years. We had heard about the shop from my Mum (a self acclaimed cheese addict) and popped in to fill our tummies with as many Irish cheeses we could sample. We were only too delighted to find the wine bar above the cheese shop and felt like we were well and truly ‘home’.
Everyone feels like that when they visit Sheridans; Not just the locals.
Seámus was ranting on about something that night from behind the wine counter. All of it making sense and all of it serious rantings too. It was about the importance of supporting our local farmers and producers. It was about eating dinner together as a family; it was about how delicious a plate of thick cut Irish chips are (french fries) and how they were one of his favourite things to eat. This is an image that is burned in my mind … Seámus describing the heat and grease of a plate full of chips all salted and vinegared … (I know vinegared is not a real word .. but I am telling the story here).
I am still licking my fingers, almost five years later, pining for that plate of chips.
Seámus Sheridan is a story teller like no other and his passion and ethos for food is commendable. Not only does he run a tight ship (with the help of his brother Kevin and their other business partner Fiona Corbett), Seámus has taken his ethos that little bit further and is giving back to his community. Something we should all do more of.
Several years ago, a young (and seriously talented) chef by the name of David Gumbleton, all the way from Darlington Australia, began working at Sheridans Cheesemongers.
’ … ”What I learnt was that, with food, it’s not what you do to it, it’s best what you don’t do to it,” he once said. … ‘
Seámus set about forming the David Gumbleton Memorial Prize, established in 2005, which from then until 2012 was awarded annually to an outstanding young chef in the Culinary Arts Degree Programme of the DIT Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin. The g Hotel and the event organisers are now very proud to announce the extension of this award to include students of the GMIT Culinary Arts Degree. This is excellent news for Galway culinary students.
The 2013 recipient will receive a travel bursary and the unique opportunity to work with some one of the world’s best restaurants including Tetsuya Wakuda and Noma – two of the best restaurants in the world and after that the young student will be aided in finding a job. An incredible opportunity for a young and budding chef. (or older mature culinary student too!)
The g hotel, one of Ireland’s leading five star hotels, is delighted to host a gala dinner to announce this year’s recipient of the David Gumbleton memorial prize.
The event, which takes place the evening of Wednesday, 1st May, 2013, will be see a unique and rare gathering of some of David’s oldest friends and Irelands best known chefs including Kevin Thornton; Ross Lewis of Chapter One; Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso in Cork; Enda McEvoy (formerly of Aniar); and Pauline O’Reilly of the g Hotel. The chefs will all speak during the evening, along with the evening’s MC and close friend of David, Seamus Sheridan. The finale of the night will be the presentation of the David Gumbleton Award to this years and last year’s recipients.
At the gala event, guests will be treated to a drinks reception in the hotel’s Grand Salon, followed by a seven course meal, designed especially for the event by The g’s head chef, Pauline Reilly in conjunction with Enda McEvoy, all ensuring that the menu reflects the type of food and ethos that David strived to achieve.
Tickets for the event are priced at €95 per person and are available to purchase through The g Hotel www.theghotel.ie or 091 865 200.
If you are living in Galway and up for a delicious evening then this one’s for you. Also, if you are a culinary student, or the parent of a culinary student, this is a unique opportunity to meet, and learn from, a few of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the industry. They are coming to share their expertise with us and we are fortunate that Galway gets to host such an incredible line up of talented chefs.
We are never too old to learn.
Hope to see you there.
Turn away now of you do not want the goodies OXO Good Grips has up for grabs.
This is a sponsored post.
I do love OXO kitchen gadgets.
And they love me. See evidence of that in previous blog post.
A few weeks ago, due to a persistent back pain I have been tortured with … my doctor told me I shall never again ‘hoover’ … (that’s vacuuming for all y’all back in the US of A).
Imagine receiving a diagnosis like that!
I complained mildly about this on Twitter and a few days later I received a few helpful products in the post from our friends at OXO Good Grips UK.
Now, all I needed was the motivation to start Spring cleaning … and seeing as Spring seems like it will never arrive … I had to enlist a few helpers.
It is safe to say that the folks at OXO know what they are doing because they have developed a line of stuff that kids (and husbands!) like to use around the house, be it kitchen gadgets or clean up kit.
Although I have been given a reprieve from hoovering … I can still manage to hobble about with the dustpan and broom – but thankfully now I have to ‘wait my turn’ because so many of my wee helpers would rather play with the new toys.
Dinners could be eaten off the floor around here these days.
The lovely folks at OXO Good Grips UK have given us a goody bag of spring cleaning kitchen kit with a value of £50 (almost €60) to offer to one of our readers.
No songs or dances on this one … just finish the sentence please in the comments below ….. ” I want to win the Spring cleaning Kitchen Kit from OXO Good Grips because ….. “
and you will be in with a chance to win. You can double your chances by liking their Facebook page too!
On a side note … we have four kids and all four of them have daily chores and are expected to help out around the house on a daily basis. Sweeping, mopping, laundry, mucking out hen coops etc.
You name it … they can do it. Please do not send me an email complaining that I am over exposing my children by using their images on the blog and using them as little slaves to help out around the house.
They are well fed and quite happy to live here and hope to have their own blog someday to get their own back.
Ok – get cracking on the comments folks. I will pick the winner myself on Easter Sunday.
… ” I want to win the Spring cleaning Kitchen Kit from OXO Good Grips because ….. “
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Here’s the deal lads … I am not a huge fan of the telly at all.
I am much more inclined to be curled up on the couch reading a book or will happily settle in to watch a box set of my favourite TV series (except for Downton Abbey which I watch live!) or a movie … But the constant flicking around and channel surfing that goes hand in hand with normal TV watching … it’s not for me.
The Chef on the other hand … loves telly. It is his way to unwind . . . he spends most of his telly time watching Antiques Roadshow and Auction Hunters … the occasional cooking show and even Come Dine With Me.
A few months before Christmas we were given the opportunity to get involved with Waka TV productions (owned by Comedienne Katherine Lynch and Warren Meyler) who produced a new series on TV called ‘Six in the City’ for RTÉ.
Reeee-AL-iteeee-TV. Ah – no thanks. Not on your life.
BUT the Chef wanted to do something different … and he felt that, seeing as I had dragged him from his home turf kicking and screaming back to Ireland to settle down in a cooler and damper corner of the world, … I owed him.
I stood firm in saying no .. but finally caved in.
What did we have to lose … I mean, it would be virtually impossible for these guys to make us look like total eejits. We are so bland and boring and behaved …
I almost backed out at the last minute … but am so glad I did not.
We met some very cool people along the way and several other (work) opportunities have come our way since then.
So what happens when you take three couples …
1st couple from Belfast – raring and rocking party animals;
and us … weighted down with four kids, a rake of animals and smothered in our food centric family world
… and throw them together for three nights out, in three different citys .. three weeks in a row.
Did we become fast friends and bosom buddies … or are we waiting with baited breath to block every comment that comes our way on Facebook from our new ‘friends’.
Reality TV is not for everyone and when you get involved with a production company to work on a show like this … you go into it with the understanding that they are going to do what they can to sensationalise every utterance.
I can’t wait to see the end result. The Chef and I were mostly very well behaved … but I am certain y’all will see another side of us … please tune in to watch the show on Monday night – March 25th 2013 on RTE 2 at 9:30pm.
There was food … there was, eh, dancing? and there was even a bit of ‘naked singing and guitar playing’ …
Things were said … peoples feelings were hurt … there was quite a bit of drama …. nothing out of the ordinary .. it will make for great, or possibly cringe-worthy, Monday night telly watching.
From left to right : Deborah Renyolds & Sam Stone (Naas, Kildare); Aaron & Justine Watson (Bangor, County Down); Móna & Ron Wise; Galway.
I think that the main thing these images show … is that we all had a lot of fun.
We did something different … had a new experience … and
hopefully have no regrets.
You can watch a wee preview of the show right here …
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
When we moved home to Galway almost five years ago …. we could not find a beer that we loved. When in Rome – right?
Yes – there was Guinness and plenty of it. The best pints we have ever had – especially if you go here when you are in Galway. (I insist you go here when you are in Galway).
But sometimes, on a Friday night, a girl just wants a cold beer from the fridge. We were not finding, and definitely not falling in love with, anything …. but gawd knows we were trying.
All that water and not a drop to drink. I know … Beer snobs. Call us what we are.
We were conditioned to drinking, and pined for, good old fashioned American brews like Samuel Adams or Boont Amber Ale or any of the hefty selections from Rogue beers. Aside from the schwag American beers (Coors Lite/miller/Bud lite etc) nabbing a US microbrew beer came at a painful price; We grew thirsty.
Then one day … Peter came to the rescue. Try this beer sez he. You will pine for Sam Adams no more.
Sceptical …. we tried ONE bottle. Then we went back to his shop for a whole case.
Guys and dolls …. this Galway Hooker beer … is ‘da bomb’.
Summer … might be just around the corner.
Are you all stocked up?
AND … if that is not enough to convince you … this is an Irish business … two Irish lads, first cousins, who are incredibly skilled at their craft of beer making and customer service.
They deserve your business … and their beer is damn good.
The kids are on a two week Easter break … starting today — I might not come up for air for a while … so pop in and say hello if you are in the neighbourhood next weekend for the Galway Food Festival.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Oh. What a can of worms we open when we pose this question whether here at home in Ireland or abroad.
Are there too many chefs in the kitchen to allow our national food identity to develop into what could be a wonderful Food Island culture? And before you get too excited .. we are just talking about Irish Food here … not Irish cuisine …. that is a whole other can of worms.
Every menu we peruse these days we are confronted with global influences sneaking on to our plates. Coconut milk replaced with rich Irish cream or olive oil on the table for dipping your bread in instead of a knob of Kerrygold.
Three years ago I attended a food bloggers workshop hosted by Bord Bia at their HQ in Dublin. They were asking Irish Food Bloggers to work on our SEO and food photo ‘tagging’ to help improve the over all image of Irish food to the world. A fair request one might say, because lets face it, the image the world has of Irish food is still all cabbage and Guinness. With the exception of one of my fellow food bloggers Zack Gallagher and a couple of American lassies (who are living/working/blogging/eating in Ireland and really know their SEO) the image of Irish food (on Google) is controlled online by Bord Bia, and a few other large corporations. I can’t say this excites me ..
When we asked the kids last night what they would like to have for dinner on Paddy’s Day (March 17th every year and it is this Sunday) we were bombarded with requests. We tried to reject several of their requests because they were not ‘Irish’, or at least what we feel ‘Irish food’ should be.
They think, and I believe they are right, that Irish food is what they eat every day because they are living in Ireland. Be it bacon and cabbage with boiled and buttered spuds or chicken curry with coconut milk. If it is (mostly) produced and made here on the island … then to them, it is all Irish. Ya gotta love kids for keeping it simple.
So I picked out a few photos of whats been gracing the table here at Chez Wise recently and whilst the Chef and I try to keep it interesting … we never consider it to be very ‘Irish’.
What do you think?
Christmas 2012 … not very Irish. Gingerbread ice cream sandwiches .. Pumpkin muffins … Peppermint macarons and a Gingerbread house ….
Ok – all Irish here. Arctic Char fished right out of a tank at a local fish farm a few miles from our home in Galway.
Sushi … all fished right off the coast of Galway Bay … can’t get more Irish than that. Ok – the origin of the cucumbers and lettuce is unknown.
Carrot cake …. with cream cheese – Our own carrots from the poly tunnel and cream cheese frosting from Kilbeg Dairy (best ever Mascarpone cheese). Irish enough for me ….
Irish carrots, Irish butter and Irish honey … all local. all delicious.
Irish butter … Irish egg whites for the icing … no such thing as irish sugar or Irish food colouring so I guess these are just wishful thinking … and incase you missed it – the decorating on these beauties was done by a local food artist (Gail Porter) and I blogged about our recent rendezvous with her right here and now, if you are in Galway, you can buy her cookies right here! Go buy some for your family. They look as good as they taste and she can customise the be-jessus out of them for you.
Ah yes … Barley blinis with smoked Mackerel … the fish is Irish, so is the sour cream but the Barley flour is from the UK.
Bold beautiful Beetroot (and apple) soup … all Irish. Why are we not seeing this soup in Irish restaurants?
More Barley … with Irish broccoli, Irish carrots, Irish onions, Irish salad greens.
Ha ha .. so we know the rice and bean sprouts and chilli paste are not Irish … but the egg, chicken, spinach, broccoli and peas are!
Again … if I had my way with the setting of the Irish Food menu … this would be the national salad of Ireland. Not only does it look very inviting … it tastes fabulous all year round. All Irish.
Again .. with our fish supplies on the island we are blessed … and onions grow like weeds they are so easy to cultivate and care for.
Mostly air and egg whites … the kids call this white cake.
Irish scallops, Irish bacon … some kind of Asian sticky sauce with onions and sesame seeds.
Custardy egg quiche … all Irish except for the flour for the pastry. Can’t believe there is no Irish flour to be had.
Spuds and eggs. Otherwise known as a Spanish omelette … but really just a potato and egg supper.
A family favourite .. grow them almost all year round … twice baked sweet potatoes. With Irish onions, Irish bacon, Irish sour cream … Irish cheese.
(French) Onion soup … not very French at all…
Our New Years Eve party snack … left over spuds (potato cakes) with left over ham …
Brisket … one of the most beautiful pieces of Irish beef … yet no one really asks for it at the butcher shop or knows how to cook it.
We can, quite easily, grow all of these onions. No basle .. virtually disease resistant. And they have huge cancer fighting qualities. Eat.more.onions.
Ok … no question its Irish right … eh, no .. wrong actually. Not even brewed here (for now) and the ingredients are not all Irish either.
My whole point to this picture blog is this …
Irish food is everywhere. If your mantra is, like ours, to buy local, you will see that it is not impossible to make a good 65% (if not more) of your diet .. all Irish and all delicious.
Irish cuisine is in its infancy however. We do not have a long and rich gastronomic history like the French and we do not have the familial food fanfare that the Italians celebrate daily. We had a poor and strange affiliation with ‘thick milk‘ before the potato arrived and once we started to eat and depend on the auld spud .. well we know how that ended.
If we are ever to change the image of how the rest of the world perceives Irish food … we need to love it for what it is and make sure the generations to come are growing, cooking and eating real food … and not looking for a green McShake on Paddy’s Day.
Support your local community by buying and eating local (organic when possible) foods.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all xx
PS – if you want your pretty Irish food photos to show up on Google you need to place the word “Irish” in the main title of the blog post. All I ask is that you please make sure it looks good!
Galway’s City Centre Boutique Hotel
Lower Merchants Road
The Latin Quarter
+353 91 538900
This is a doozy folks. I know y’all are probably getting sick and tired of all these fabulous hotel giveaways but you know when we get the opportunity to share something fabulous with our readers … I can’t help myself. I could of course just use this myself … check in for a night or two with the Chef – take a break from the kids. .. enjoy the peace and quite of the hotel and then write up a quirky blog post about what a gorgeous place it is and how much fun I have had there … and what would you get out of that? Nothing really … maybe a bit annoyed that I got the nice experience and you got your nose rubbed in it?
Nope – not me. I like to share. I like it when people come to visit my home town and more than anything I love making sure that they have a great time. This hotel, and their carefully appointed crew, will make sure that you have that kind of experience when you come.
So now you have the chance to stay at The House Hotel in Galway. Up for grabs (details at the end of the post) is two nights bed & breakfast (for two people) and dinner on one of those nights. Arriving on (holy) Thursday March 28th and enjoying gorgeous Galway and the Galway Food festival for two days and two nights … .
A wee blurb on the hotel :
The House Hotel is Galway’s leading city centre boutique hotel is home to the most popular of Cocktail Bars and trendiest Relax Lounge. With only 40 bedrooms this boutique hotel is warm, chic and prides itself on excellent customer service and a warm ‘Galway’ welcome. The rooms are chic, quiet, intimate and oozing in comfort, perfect for any visitor whether it be to enjoy Galway’s Festivals, for business meetings, or simply to relax in the City of the tribes.
Perfect for those romantic weekends away, or a fun filled break with the girls, The House Hotel offers it’s guests the ultimate in relaxing surroundings midweek and is now renowned as the place to be seen on a Saturday night! If it’s cocktails is you’re looking for then there is no need to go any further. The House Hotel mixologists are among the best in Ireland – many representing their country last year in destinations such as New York and Paris.
Sip on one of their fabulous Pink Champagne Mojitos, sit back and relaxing in the stunning lobby bounded by pieces of art that will take your breath away.
Located in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter everything is quite literally on your doorstep.
All that promotional jargon above is true. But the real reason you should WANT to stay here is simple and will come as no surprise to you. It is the people. From the minute you set foot inside the hotel you will be taken care of. The hotel is tiny so this affords the employees to remember who you are and what room you are staying in.
Over the last four years, whilst I have been toiling away at NUIG trying to get myself an education, I have sought refuge on their cosy couches and they know I like bottomless pots of black tea and free wifi. They also know how I like my dirty martinis when the Chef and I step out for a night on the town and they know that we like to sit by the window in the summer to people watch and by the radiator in the winter with glasses of hot port.
They don’t take notes and keep journals of all their guests likes and dislikes – they just do their job and offer the warmest of Irish hospitalities … the way it should be.
Ok – the nitty gritty.
Visit their page on FB please and say hi. This will double your chances of a win.
Leave me a comment finishing this sentence ….
I want to stay at The House Hotel in Galway over Easter because ……..
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AND … it also ensures that you will be kept informed about all the cool stuff happening in the West .. and I know you do not want to be the last to know.
The lucky winner will be chosen randomly on Tuesday March 12th 2013, giving you plenty of time to plan your get-a-way to Galway!
OK – get cracking!
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
AND THE WINNER IS :
I like to test the theory ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ from time to time .. especially as ‘the old dog’ aka my handsome Chef, knows
everything quite a bit about cooking and baking. A few weeks ago I noticed a few images flitting about on Facebook and I clicked my way back through the myriad of friends that had been ‘liking’ the images to a very cool landing page of LizzieMay’s Cakes, Cookies and Cupcakes.
There was a few images on her page that made me think of my dear friend Paula over at VanillaBeanBaker blog . And I thought ‘bummer . . another highly skilled cookie decorator that – probably – lives on the other side of the world’.
Except this highly skilled cookie decorator lives right here in Galway and only a stones throw from us really. I sent her a message tout sweet (ha ha) and asked her if she could come out to the house and give us a lesson on ‘how to decorate cookies’.
Gail Porter, owner of LizzieMay’s Cakes, Cupcakes and Cookies got back to me straight away and was only too delighted to oblige.
At the very tender age of 30, Gail decided to take advantage of being made redundant at her ‘proper job’ with Nortel and followed her passion for food. She enrolled in a twelve week course at Ballymaloe but had no interest in working with sugar or making cakes. I think that is the cool thing about food; whether you like it or not, when you are good at something it weaves its way in to your world and you sometimes end up going down a road you had not planned to travel. After she graduated from her course (and needing to find a way to pay for her education loan) she launched her new business and called it LizzieMay’s after both her Grannies.
Gail arrived out to our house with her, eh, guns loaded and icing whipped and sorted in small little cling film pouches. This made clean up a snap later and I would encourage all of you to do the same should you attempt to decorate a few cookies any time soon.
Explaining as she worked, that the secret to becoming a pro at icing cookies, is first patience, followed by fabulous icing, followed by a steady hand. We had a few (duck) egg whites left sitting at room temperature and whipped up a small batch of royal icing (90 g egg whites/480 g icing sugar) and stood to attention waiting for her tutelage.
The peanut gallery looked on with eagerness. For future reference, this is an excellent way to keep the kids entertained for a while and keeps the kitchen that wee bit cleaner too!
When you want to learn ‘how to’ do something new, it is first best to admit that you know nothing and start fresh.
When icing cookies, start by piping a border using a heavy consistency of icing. By the time you have ten cookies iced, the border icing has set up enough for you to start filling in the rest of the cookie with the flood icing.
Once you have that part done, place the cookies in a fan oven on (almost) zero heat for twenty minutes. This hardens up the royal icing greatly and you can carry on and finish your cookies with a bit more bling.
While Gail worked away on her cookies, teaching and talking away, we gave an icing bag to the Chef to see if he could match her skill.
His cheerleading squad looked on with interest and were delighted that he did not screw it up!
When you remove the cookies from the oven you will have a fabulous hard icing with a beautiful matte finish on your cookie. The No. 1 icing tip is best for piping the border and writing.
But be forewarned folks. This.Takes.Time, and an incredible amount of patience, skill and creativity.
And it gets messy. Learning how to decorate cookies means you are working with sugar and food colouring, meaning you end up having a sweet sticky colourful mess on your hands for the afternoon.
And you know … someone has to clean it all up …
As we were mixing and matching colours I was getting a little confused over which ones were border/piping icing and which ones were flooded – because once wrapped up in little cling film packages it was hard to tell the consistency of the icing. Of course, and because I am so slow to catch on, the answer is easy … the little ones are the border icing (which you use less of) and the bigger ones are the flood icing, which you use lots more of.
A steady hand and the ability to not laugh or sneeze while working is vital .. because one false move can screw up a cookie. In Gail’s line of business you can’t just throw one out if you mess it up half way through the process. She likes to use a damp paintbrush to clean up her messes – but we did not see her put that into action once!
Supporting local business’s is something we strive to do more and more of each day.
Discovering a new local business woman making and baking her product from scratch only reinforces our way of thinking, buying and eating.
We will think of her now when we have a special occasion looming but are strapped for time and still want something real and delicious.
We are going to continue to buy local and support local business’s because we like to – and NEED to – know where our food is coming from. We like to see where it starts and how much work has to be done to the raw ingredients before they end up ready to go on our plate or cupcake stand.
Maybe you are wondering what to buy your Mum for Mother’s day next weekend? (March 10th here in Ireland and UK).
Gail can whip up a dozen cookies with a few days notice and can ship them to you!
Or maybe you want to get something for a client for a special Paddy’s Day party or for an Easter celebration?
Or maybe you will break down and give it a whirl yourself and even let the kids try their hand at decorating a few cookies.
No matter what you decide … there will come a time when you want to buy someone a beautiful gift from Galway and in our opinion this is one of the best places to start – so make a note of Gail’s contact details.
When you are popping in and out to our website (and we are ever so glad that you do) please note we have added a new tab called ‘When in Galway’ and this will make it easier to find all local business’s that we blog about. There are only a few on there right now but that will change over the next few months once I am finished with college …………..
and have a bit more time to tell you about all the Galway Food heroes we have in this tiny fabulous city by the sea.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
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
About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.
Buy the Book
SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS
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