Mulranny, County Mayo
(093) 36 00 0
A few weeks ago we were invited to attend the annual launch of the season for the #GourmetGreenway in Mulranny, County Mayo. Having a grá for my birth county made this an easy decision for the Chef and I, so with a bag packed, we headed north-west for the night, thankful that my Mum was on hand to take care of the rug rats.
The Gourmet Greenway Food Trail, created by Mulranny Park Hotel in 2011 to showcase artisan food producers along the route of the Great Western Greenway, (bike trail on old railway lines – super safe) has become an international success for Mayo.
The community-based collective of 18 producers and hospitality providers has put a spotlight on great ingredients and hosts in the areas of Newport, Westport and Achill and which, last year alone, contributed €1.5 million to the local economy
The Gourmet Greenway initative has proved really successful for all involved over the last 3 years.
Arriving at the small town of Mulranny, even in the rain, takes your breath away. The beaches have a wild windswept look to them from the harsh storms the western coast took earlier in the year, but the sandy white beaches were calling out to us.
Car parked, we dropped our bags up to our room and headed off down the (150 steps) to the shore for a good stretch of the legs. Much needed after the all-but-2-hour drive from Galway.
That is not to say we weren’t tempted to stay indoors and enjoy the view from our room – but the coast was calling. Some of us remembered to grab a raincoat to stave off the shower … and some of us chanced our arm and wore a heavy sweater – which is still drying out from the drenching it got.
Standing on the edge of this small island with the offerings of a free facial from the soft sea spray, transports your mind to another place. The whipping wind, the waves rumbling in and out – heaving and groaning, and the clouds taunting us. Quiet, cool, calm, noisy, damp, wild, fervent fury ….all the senses kicked into full gear. We were ready for the evening that laid in store for us. Or so we thought.
A race back up the 1,500 steps .. ok, it was only 150 on the way down, but trust me, if felt like 1,500 on the way up!, we popped into the dining room to see if the room was being readied and to steal a peek at the menu. We chatted with a few of the employees about the scenery, the setting, the food etc. and all of them appeared well up to speed on the #GourmetGreenway and the #WildAtlanticWay.
Many restaurants/hotels do not spend enough time sharing pertinent details with their team. So many times we have been invited to an event, to help promote an evening or food product etc. and once we start quizzing the crew – we are met with blank stares – they sometimes have no idea how to answer the questions.
Someone at Mulranny has spent time talking to their team. Hats off to you guys.
The menu looked ambitious. To me, that always means there is a huge chance it might not be as good as we want it to be but there were a few things on there that peaked my interest and certainly whetted the appetite. First up was a butterscotch Sunset Ale from Clew Bay. Not a bad way to start ones supper!
As the gourmets gathered in the lounge, we were all a bit mesmerised by the way the clouds had started to dissipate and in typical Irish fashion we all became fast (new) friends with having the hot topic of ‘the weather’ to break the ice.
Little tufts of bog heather dotted on crisp linens and candles glowing led us to our table where the fun was just about to get underway. We were warmly greeted by Dermot Madigan, hotel GM, who you’d befriend immediately. Polite, professional and well rounded in the hospitality industry – we had loads to chat about with him.
I am not going to go into a course-by-course blow on this blog post, because I think the images tell enough of a story. I would not have shared them on Instagram or Twitter were they not plate-licakble. There were one or two small things I would have done differently and I have already sent an email to their chef (Chamila Mananwatta) sharing those details with him.
One wonders how a man from Sri Lanka ends up running the show at a gorgeous hotel in County Mayo.
” … Yes I am very far from home but I fly home at the end of the year to see my family when the hotel closes for a few weeks over winter. I found Mulranny when I was still working in Dubai at the Sheraton and had seen a newspaper advertisement looking for chefs in Ireland. So I applied and was selected. Now I have been in Ireland for seven years and am also an Irish citizen too …”
I was killed wondering what he topped the very lightly baked and beautiful bay oyster with. Every bite of it tasted like more please .. the textures married so well together I, and my dining mates, were all sad there was only one.
When I asked him to tell me his secret ingredient he was so generous to share the details …
” … The crust on the Oysters was called Celtic crust, which was invented by myself using Kelly’s black pudding, which I dried ……. and I mixed it with soft fresh garden herbs and a Japanese bread crumb. The basic appearance on the oyster you ate was to remind you of our sandy beaches all messed up with seaweed during low tide on the shore… “
Someone, please, give this guy a book deal. I want his words, describing my bites of food that he has prepared, to whisk me away.
There was also a quenelle of fresh bbq salmon on that same plate and it was meshed together with shaved marinated crunchy raw fennel. Sweet mother … it was just gorgeous.
I wondered was it all his former jobs that had given him an eye for detail and passion for plating his food in beautiful ways …
” … I was influenced by my Mum. She has incredible, hands on, Sri Lankan spicy curries and home cooking skills. I was compelled to join the Ceylon Hotel school in a professional cookery course and started my carrier as a Culinary student in Sri Lanka …”
Plate after plate and even a bottle of beautiful fresh mint and melon slushy (mint picked from outside the lobby entrance) graced our tables and I assumed he had a food stylist back there in the kitchen helping him set the scene for each cleverly presented course.
” … No. All plate presentation is done by me. I want every single plate (there were 80 of them!) to look identical. The first plate must look exactly the same as the last plate…”
Hey – I live with a control-freak-chef … I hear ya. The littlest detail can throw you off sometime.
All but tantric moments were had at the table when the sea trout came to be tasted. Murmurings of pleasurable food noises rambled in waves around the tables and everyone wanting to know where the trout came from and how it was so so fresh and fabulous. Alongside it came, for me, the Pièce de résistance. …a pickled (raw) potato linguine. It can only be described as bloody genius .. here’s an Irish-passport-carrying chef from from Sril Lanka showing us all a new and delicious way to eat our spuds.
” …Yes, the raw potato dish was created by me. Normally I make something similar using carrots instead of raw potato but this time I decided to try the potato and it worked out well. You can try it with apple… “
As the courses came to an end, the lights dimmed, the sun set and the candles burned brighter, we sat back in our chairs and reflected on the experience we had just had.
Chamilla and his team came to the dining room and received a massive bula bus from the sated crowd.
” … Yeah. I love to cook and make people happy. I listen to their comments especially on my creations. The feedback is important. Every single dish I prepare in the kitchen, gets my full attention on presentation, flavours, textures,
Tanya Whyte and John McGee from the local enterprise office from County Mayo, both gave beautiful (short n’ sweet) speeches on the importance of small businesses supporting each other.
” … The authenticity of flavours was reflected beautifully from the selection of the regional food chosen for the evening and served as a true testament of what happens when people work together on a project such as the #GourmetGreenway…which has highlighted the magic of Mayo – unlocking the beautiful hidden potential that we all know this county has…”
“…The ability people have to work together, providing value and support, to nurture and encourage growth is evident here tonight. A little bit of leadership leading to world class excellence in a very small small part of the world on the west coast of Ireland. Everybody wants a #Greenway…”
Ain’t that the truth! The good news is there are plans for extending the Greenway. Stay tuned!
On the way back home to Galway, we stopped off for a caffeine hit – because we totally overslept (until 9am!) in the amazingly comfortable massive bed they had forced us to slumber in for the night … and were delighted to see our friend Aran McMahon (of Rua Café) hustling and bustling around his shop readying himself for a very busy Friday lunch. They offer a tiny little nugget of traditional shortbread with all their teas and coffees. Something you never see at Starbucks lads. Pure class – right there in Castlebar.
When we got home, we unearthed a small care package the GM of Mulranny Hotel had sent us home with. A loaf of bread and pot of jam. The children, just in from school, have not stopped licking their chops since. Truly a delicious little break-away from work and school.
How lucky are we.
Now – down to business. You too can also get away for TWO nights (you lucky ducks) Bed & Breakfast plus dinner and a bottle of wine for one of those nights – all courtesy of the folks at Mulranny Park Hotel.
All you have to do is leave a comment in the box below letting me know the following:
A. Where is the Mulranny Park Hotel?
B. Where is their Chef from?
C. What is the #GourmetGreenway?
As per all the giveaways we do here on our WiseWords blog … make sure you are a registered subscriber to our blog and you can sign up right here for that. You can also pay them a visit on Facebook – to stay informed on other giveaways they will be offering … or on Twitter … they are great fun over there too!
(The get-a-way is restricted to mid-week as they are crazy busy at the weekends with weddings etc.).
Best of luck! I will be using the ‘And the Winner is’ app to randomly select a winner … and I will let you know by early June (just check back here on the blog in two weeks) who gets the prize.
My recommendation to y’all is this. If you win the prize, then pay for a few extra nights and make it a family (or lovers) getaway for the summer.
I hope my WiseWords have conveyed how special this place really is. It should totally should be on your bucket list.
That’s all for now … I am just finished my first work placement stint and am getting ready to move on to the next one … so stay tuned! AND – there are a few more fabulous hotel givea-a-ways lined up for the next few weeks …. so sharing is caring guys n’ dolls xx
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
AND – the winner is: Sarah Curtis. Huge congrats Sarah. Start planning now!
Silkes, Munster Avenue
(091) 520 – 977
Just around the corner from Kai café sits the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. The two lassies in the above photos are not only neighbours, they are friends and have joined forces to raise some money for the next drama production the Blue Teapot Theatre will produce for the Galway Arts Festival – it’s called ‘ID’.
From July 16, 2014 to July 26, 2014
Blue Teapot Theatre, Munster Avenue, Galway city
‘Who do you think I am’.
iD experiences the world as seen through the eyes of people with intellectual disability and also questions our perceptions of identity along the way.
The world premiere of iD will be unveiled in the Galway Arts Festival this year. This innovative and entertaining new work is conceived & presented by the actors in collaboration with Director, Scott Williams and Dramaturg, Gavin Kostick.
Jess Murphy, always wearing her generous heart on her sleeve, heard that Petal (the director of the Blue Teapot Theatre) had just launched a Fundit campaign to raise the necessary funds for their new show and she jumped in with both feet. How about a pop-up dinner at the theatre?
The folks at the theatre were only too delighted to get a bit of help, and even a bit shocked, because no one has ever proposed such a thing before and the Blue Teapot Theatre has been around since 1996.
So first things first folks … ask yourself ‘do you have a few extra pennies, dimes, dollars, euros or pounds to spare?’ If so then please help support this FundIt campaign – especially those of you living so far away you can’t make it to the pop-up supper on Friday May 16th 2014.
If you want to be part of the fun and attend the pop-up dinner on Friday May 16th, 2014 then have a look at the long list of people who are only too happy to donate their time and their food and wine. We are most fortunate to live in a city (and country) that is bursting with generosity. If this does not whet the appetite I am not sure what will.
All goods – save but a few tiny items like plates and linens – will be donated for the evening and Jess hopes to raise close to €6,000 for the Blue Teapot Theatre company.
Helping Jess out in the kitchen for the evening is Enda McEvoy – Galway’s first and only Michelin star chef. Enda was kind enough to jump in (also with both feet) even though he is in the throes of gearing up to open his own place slap bang in the heart of the city – LOAM. Stay tuned on this one, it is sure to be delicious.
You can watch a little video chat with him and Jess right here.
Also lending Jess a hand is Louise Bannon of NOMA (listed again recently as the best restaurant in the world) .. she is in town for the Ballymaloe Literary fest and is making a little time to dish up a few tasty plates with her mates. These chefs are quite the force guys. They get.shit.done.
Aran McMahon from Café Rua will start of the evening by serving Rhubarb Belinis to the crowd and Kevin Powell – noisemaker at Gruel Guerrilla and famous for his pop ups in Dublin with News of the Curd – too is donating a helping hand with service for the evening.
Although killing himself on the campaign trail, Seámus Sheridan also took a few minutes to join in the fun and is lining up the wines for the night with Enrico Fantasia from Grape Circus. This is always the fun part!
There will, of course be bread – which Morton’s of Galway are only too happy to donate …
Cuinneog are donating important ingredients like cream, butter and sour cream …… Tony Garraha from Lough Boora Farm is donating all the fabulous greens and floral edibles needed for the menu – which is going to resemble a midsummers night meal .. There is talk of a beautiful beetroot salad, a fresh fish ceviche and of course Brady’s butcher in Athenry has donated all the meat.
I can only imagine ….. it all sounds …… delectable.
Padraig from Urban Grind (also in the neighbourhood and eager to meet y’all) is donating the exquisite (3fe) coffee …. I could use a cup right now … and incase that does not sound like enough … didn’t Seámus Sheridan come back and offer to donate the cheese to wrap up the evening …
The evening will be captured by one of my favourite photographers Reg Gordon and if you are able to attend this event, make sure you find him and say hi – aside from being incredibly talented, he is one heck of a nice guy to donate his time and talent to this event.
So there you have it … a list of people all offering to donate their time, money and food in the hopes that you will come and fill your bellies with a fabulous five-course (with wine) dinner on Friday May 16th, 2014.
Click here to donate or pick up the phone and call (091) 520-977 to book your place for the pop-up kitchen at Blue Teapot Theatre.
Thanks folks … t’is not often I ask for your help and as usual we have something to sweeten the pot … Ron and I cannot attend this event as we are tied up with a work thing already that evening but we are happy to donate our two tickets (worth €150) to a lucky reader.
Here is the kicker … you have to be subscribed to our WiseWords blog (sign up here) and because this is a time sensitive event and fundraiser, we are asking that you donate at least a few euros to the FundIT campaign. We will pick a winner on Tuesday evening (May 13th) giving you plenty of time to organise a babysitter or a taxi .. because I am sure this is going to be a fabulous night out in Galway.
Just leave me a comment down below letting me know you have already made a small donation and I will throw your name in the hat and we will join you for the cheese course!
That’s all for now folks … thanks for tuning in.
You bet your sweet ass we do.
Watch this video first … it serves as a nice reminder of how passionate the locals are about the thriving food scene in Galway. We are also very passionate about the thriving Beer scene in Galway but will have to leave that for another day.
I need your help. Click on the image below and vote for Galway – please.
AND … because you helped me out – this is a little reminder to stay tuned. Just like last summer, we will be hosting a few FABULOUS summer giveaways right here on the blog so you can pack up, get away for a few days – and head WEST!
Maybe a couple of nights right here in Galway at The G Hotel or a few nights at Mulranny Park Hotel in Westport? Just as long as you are a registered reader of our blog – you will be in with a chance to win. There are a few other places lined up for later in the summer too … I can’t wait to blog-all-about-them.
Now- back to the voting ….. anyone can vote so share the link with your friends and family
PLEASE help us put Galway on the map!
Have a lovely weekend … we have a nice long one here on the island with it being a May Bank Holiday weekend. No plans really … just the usual chasing after four kids to keep us busy.
PS – if you have any trouble with the voting page .. please let me know via the comments section down below or via twitter or email me at MonaZWise@gmail.com.
A little milk boiled to the right temperature is the key ingredient and that is pretty much all you need. Well, that and a bit of vinegar (or rennet once you get serious about this) and away you go; The world of cheesemaking is yours.
Another item crossed of the bucket list so-to-speak, because I know many of you daydream about making your own cheese all the time. I’ve made my own butter - that was just as easy. I even made flavoured butters. One with Nettles, and even a bacon butter. Yep – a piece of cake.
A couple of months ago we received a message via Facebook from Yvonne Hollidge at Creative Cheese Works asking if we would like to try a cheese making kit. Kit? Are ya kidding me? We do not need a kit!
But I had a look at her website and I really liked what I saw. I’ll be the first to admit I love nice packaging and this kit comes in a dark hunter green corrugated cardboard box. Everything was wrapped and presented beautifully and this would make an excellent gift for Father’s day, I’m sure and for anyone who might just love cheese.
Yvonne is doing her best to educate people as to how easy this cheesemaking really is. She is on the road doing demonstrations around the country at festivals etc. and also in schools. She is passionate about teaching, and wants to encourage everyone to try their hand. So much so that she has give us a free kit to offer one of our readers.
You really want this … you need to prove it to yourself that you can make cheese – for once and for all.
Once you get your kit you can whip up a batch of soft cheese in a few hours.
This kit uses full fat milk and makes up to 10 batches.
The first time we used the kit we made a delicious black pepper crusted soft cheese which the kids inhaled in seconds.
Since we are officially on the cheesemaking bandwagon – we have made several different soft cheese’s and are now graduating onto the blue cheese – more of a challege but really looking forward to trying this.
The one thing we are loving is the shelf life – if you can keep it hidden from the kids that is. The cheese is mild and will ripen and strengthen in firmness and flavour if you leave it (wrapped in greasproof paper) in the fridge for a week or two. When you tuck into it after a few weeks maturing … it is begging for a glass of wine, a few olives stuffed with anchovies and a long weekend lying ahead of you. It’s that kinda
Now – if you are ready to get your cheese making hat on, I suggest you leave a comment down below (we will ship worldwide) and let me know why you have finally taken the plunge and are ready to make your own cheese!
Maybe you want to make this gorgeous (baked) Rhubarb Cheesecake and you just know it will tase better if you use your own creamy cheese?
Or maybe, you are ready to finally learn how to make n’ bake a kick ass macaroni and cheese dish but know that there is no point in even attempting this unless you have all the right ingredients … such as homemeade cheese?
I’ll pick a winner on April 26th, 2014 ….
Comments in the box below. Tell me your cheese woes.
That’s all for now folks,
and the winner is….Peggy Falbo! Congrats to you now send me on your details and I will get that cheese making kit out to you in the post.
A few weeks ago I got an email from an old friend of mine. She put me in touch with Helen Calvey of the Calvey Family Farm on Achill Island, who is helping out on the marketing and social media end of things for the family business whilst she is on maternity leave.
I’ll be the first to admit it – there is no rhyme or reason to figuring out what motivates me to write a blog post. Ordinally, and most writers would agree, one would love to have the luxury of waiting for the inspiration to waft in willingly – then I could drop everything and allow the words to spill endlessly onto the keyboard; Sadly that almost never happens.
But when it does … it’s a great feeling. For me sometimes all it takes is a Tweet from a Mum suffering from #babybrain. As a mum of four – you have my total attention and empathy; Rock on Mama – this too shall pass.
I was immedialtey interested in having a chat with Helen because she bounced across the social media pages and landed in-person at our front door to drop off a small sample of their lamb so we could taste for ourselves. The proof is in the pudding as they say and and the taste has lingered with me since.
Incase you are wondering – we did very little cooking to the gorgeous piece of meat they shared with us. The rack was small and butchered beautifully into two (3-bone) chops. A quick season and sear on both sides to brown them for less than 5 minutes, a spoonful of mustard topped with fresh breadcrumbs and finished in a very hot oven for 12 minutes.
There was fingerlicking at the table. I am not ashamed.
So, nosey me, I set about drafting a few questions for Helen to see if I could get a bit more information on what makes Achill Lamb so different to other Irish Lamb. Here’s what Helen Calvey had to say:
How is business? Fifty years is a long time to stay afloat – what’s your secret?
(I’m actually getting hungry just reading Helen’s response)
Oh – this was not a difficult one to feature on the blog Helen. What an excellent product.
It’s not difficult to see why I was interested in sharing this with you all. There is so much more to the story than just a few ‘lambs for sale’. We live in a very ‘get-rich-quick’ kind of world and I think sometimes people need a little reminder that slow and steady wins the race. For quality of product and quality of life. Thanks to Helen Calvey for taking the time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with me.
It seems like Achill Island is a place we should all aim to visit this summer. With Failte Ireland’s recent launch of the Wild Atlantic Way (watch the video!) I see no reason to travel abroad this year . . . staycationing all the way for us.
Have you been to Achill Island recently?
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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!
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!
(096) 22 4 00
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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.
BBQ Ribs served with Coleslaw and Chorizo Mac n’ Cheese
Wise Irish Coffee
If you would like to attend … please phone them at 353 (0)91 526003 or drop them an email at email@example.com to reserve your table.
Ron and I look forward to seeing you there!
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.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS