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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
…….. Sheeseh – lads, start drinking!
The key thing about these beers and their brewmasters is this: THEY ARE ALL EXCELLENT.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Sometimes, I call ahead and ask restaurants and cafés if they stock this. I kid you not. Gorgeous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You truly do inspire me Máirín. Thank you for being such a rock xx
Much grá … love Móna
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.
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.
They, as a team, have produced the most beautiful book which is truly a celebration of Irish Salmon, the most noble of fish.
I can only hope by the time I reach my seventies that I have accomplished half of the achievements Máirín has.
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!
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
I felt it was high time to address an issue that is on my mind a lot these days and it is:
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 …
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
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.
38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland
Email : email@example.com
Phone : 091 562259 (International +35391 562259)
Twitter : www.twitter.com/McCambridges38
I was trolling through my photos from McCambridges and noticed that several of them were (coincidentially) of Beer & Wine. So I sent a quick email to Natalie MCCambridge, one of the owners, and asked her to shuttle me on a few of hers. Just to add to the variety of what they offered.
She sent me the following few images ..
So, as you can see … these guys rock in the Beer & Wine department. But here is something you may not know. In addition to offering fabulous fare (for lunch) from the deli counter downstairs and an excellent selection of teas and coffees to boot, they have, in the last year, expanded to now serve lunch in their beautifully designed space above the store. They are also serving dinner (up until 9pm from mid-December) for a few weeks over the festive season. Go there – eat lots. Shop till you drop.
Great care was made in sourcing much of the reclaimed materials used in the renovations and let me tell you, with the expert design eye of local arthitect Stephen Walton (who also brings his design beauty to Kai Cafe) ‘Upstairs @ MCCambridges’ is where it is at ladies and gentlemen.
McCambridge’s of Galway is a family owned Deli and Fine Foods Shop and Restaurant located in the heart of Galway city centre. On any given day you will find this shop a-buzzing with people zipping in and out to get a few bits and pieces. They are notably famous for the way they treat their customers. If you are already on their mailing list, then you know what I am talking about. Their annual Christmas party invite should be arriving in the post any day now. A fantastic evening with the McCambridge family celebrating with their vendors (who bring the food and wine) and customers, (who drink all the food and wine) with all proceeds go to a most deserving charity.
We have attended Sunday brunches, weekday lunches, book launches, cheese tastings, wine tastings and have sat upstairs for a host of other reasons … sometimes to duck out of the rain and have a glass of wine by the window watching the world stroll by.
Sometimes we stop in for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee with friends .. and we always hope to see their talented Chef Heather … who is always only too delighted to let you know which cake to take a stab at. She’d know, because she makes every one of them. earlier this year, at a book launch I think, she made this little appetiser of Polenta cubes topped with mushrooms and truffle oil. I can still taste it. A damn shame it is not on the menu.
For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).
There are not that many places in Galway that leave a lasting impression on me when I go out to eat, or do my grocery shopping. I guess I am hard to please. I want to be able to find the product I am looking for with ease and if I can’t find it, trust that the employees will be only too happy to help me.
Yesterday, I spent a few minutes chatting (on the radio) with Sean O’Rourke, the presenter of RTE Radio 1 ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show. He wanted an update on the Food Scene in Galway and if you listen in, you will hear that McCambridges was one of the places I talked about because of the variety of Galway products they showcase.
One of my favourite places to shop for foodie presents for Christmas.
Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.
Barely 8 weeks till Christmas guys and dolls.
I am putting together a few blog posts on my favourite places to shop-till-ya-drop in Galway.
Most of them are food havens but I might throw in one or two cute-for-kitsch shops too.
First up ..
Asiatic Manila Food Store,
25 Upper Abbeygate Street.,
Galway City, Ireland,
This little gem has been in Galway for a few years now (right across the road from Sally Longs Pub) but they were on the other side of the road until a few months ago. They have moved into a bigger and brighter place and have the best supply of Asian ingredients in Galway.
The meat counter is not to be sneezed at, mostly because the butcher will find you anything your heart desires. We are embracing Oxtail and lamb shank seasons these days.
They have a very impressive frozen foods section too – and I am delighted to be able to (finally) buy Edamame .. in the shell and out of the shell. It is the little things in life, I know.
One of the things that hooked me on this Asian food store, as opposed to a few others in Galway, was the excellent selction of fresh herbs they have. It does not matter if you don’t have a clue what half of them are, or if you have no idea how to use them. The staff are only too excited to tell you what to do with them all.
I still have not figured out exactly what to do with the dried banana Flowers … I have made tea with them and it was alright … and I pulverised a few and added them to Banana muffins … they were ok … but surely there is something more we can do with this, right?
Anyway, incase you are not tempted by all the fresh herbs and dried flowers, you need to pop in to buy a rice cooker. They have them for only twenty euros – now that is a bargain … and they have gobs of rice to choose from.
They also have a few other items that one might wonder about ….
Whatever Asian flavour you are craving .. this is the shop for you.
One last thing ….. during these times of belt tightening and in the lead up to Christmas, a little bit of mulah goes a very long way in this shop. I think a gift certificate for students (ahem) would be a well recieved gift, as would a basket filled with their excellent Ramen noodle or Pho soup packages. They are so good, there is little need to order from the Take-away on a Friday night.
Up next …. McCambridges .. so stay tuned!
This week, I earned a very important piece of paper.
I graduated with an honours degree in English, German and Creative Writing.
After the year I have had, I am honest-to-god delighted to have graduated at all. If you have no idea what I am talking about … then read this article here.
My Mum, Catherine, also earned it as she has been talking care of the ‘homework and school side of things’ for our four children for the last four years. She has also carved out an inordinate amount of time to just being ‘Granny’ to them and ‘Mammy’ to me.
I love you Mum.
Husband and best friend of mine, aka the Chef, should not be left out either. He is still cooking up a storm and taking excellent care of our little family – and the feathered flock too.
I can’t imagine that my smile could be so smiley …
I feel … educated. I also feel exhausted and am still worried about that pile of laundry that just never seems to stop growing.
After the conferring ceremony had finished, Mum, the Chef and I, with my cousin Jamie (who took the photos) all went to Kai Cafe for a quick bite of lunch. We rarely get to do this without the children … so this was a nice treat.
We were greeted with Quince Bellinis … if you have never had one … then go get one right now.
I have not said it enough … but there is fierce comfort in going to a cafe where you just know every bite will be perfect .. everytime.
After the festivities had died down, I made a few important stops to see my BFF’s for a few photos ‘in cap n’ gown’ and then paid a visit to my Dad who has been laying low for 13 years now.
Those that state it it gets easier as time goes by are big fat liars. I have never cried so many tears. It is not like I have been a big loser my whole life or anything. I never questioned whether or not Dad was ever proud of me. I just hate that he is not here to see me kinda-sorta get my shit together.
And then the mucksters got home from school … and all hell broke loose.
Things are going well here in Galway. I decided at the very very last minute to take on ONE FINAL year of college and have jumped in with both feet to the MA class of Journalism.
This is a 12 month course so there will be one more graduation next year before I get back into the world of ‘all work and no play’.
One of my first radio broadcasting assignments aired last week on Flirt.fm (101.3 fm).
I titled it ‘Life as a mature student’.
It is ten minutes long. Have a listen.
Thanks for all the love and support over the last four years guys n’ dolls.
I could not have kept sane without my blog and all my buddies.
The Kings Head
Sometimes … it takes me an age to get around to blogging about a place I love. I could pull several different and unique excises out of my hat to lay on this one … but the truth is I am just buried alive.
Late in August I took the boldest and bravest decision yet, and signed up for the MA in Journalism at NUIG. I am knee deep in the 1st semester and loving it. I have had to shift gears completely and am writing about news and politics and all kids of interesting and different topics.
I miss writing about food though. And I miss y’all.
I was flicking through my images last night and found these photos and it reminded me that I had never told you how much I love this pub. Not only do I love it … the Chef loves it too … and the kids …
They really love it …………
And shur what is not to love? The Kings Head is a family-run business that has been under the ownership of Paul and Mary Grealish for over 20 years now. They also own the beautiful …. and a bit posher …. Malt House restaurant next door. Their chefs have been with them for 15 + years. They run a tight ship.
They dip their crab claws in melted butter with hot fresh chilie slivers.
These – are to die for.
A variety of daily specials always on the menu and never will dissappoint.
Something we love (during the summer months) is the grilled Lobster with drawn butter and thick steak cut chips.
But it is the mussels that bring me back everytime. A massive bucket to share for the table so the kids can get stuck in.
Graduation season is upon us and I have a special blog post lined up for next week – so stick around.
In the meantime, if you know anyone that is graduating in Galway, why not meet them for a pint at The Kings Head?
Occasionally …… we get invited to events that leave us wondering if it was all business or just all pleasure.
We spent the last few days tooling around the northern stretch of County Mayo, invited to join in the festivities for Westport Food Festival, and we found it hard to tear ourselves away from all the fun when it was time to return home to Galway.
In attendance, and hungry to learn, were several local food producers sat beside several local (small) restaurant/Café owners. They were all wondering how they could make more of an impact with their product and service; all wondering how they could attract more customers – and retain them. They all beamed with pride when they hear that ‘everyone wants a Greenway’. It took years of planning, but the Atlantic Gourmet Greenway has already proven to be a massive attraction to tourists this year. ‘ … The Gourmet Greenway is a food trail devised by Mulranny Park Hotel, in association with several Mayo food producers, to showcase the wonderful artisan food in the vicinities of Mulranny, Newport, Westport and Achill…’
There were Tweets flung back and forth all morning about how Recipes4Success (Mayo) could really be applied to most counties around the country. Click on this link to see a recap of some of the more interesting Tweets.
After the workshop, we all congregated for a pot-luck lunch. Ron had teamed up with Kieran & Marjorie O’Malley from Achill Island Sea Salt (brand new product still in small production) to make a few tasty treats. First, he took a few tubs of their absolutely gorgeous flaky sea salt and he Turf-smoked it. The smell and flavour is so familiar to us Irish folk because we have been burning Turf in our fires for centuries. He made a few Sourdough crackers and a tub of Hummus for dipping in. It seemed to have been a big hit – the chef was delighted.
Café Rua (from Castlebar) was there in style, sharing their patriotic message and delicious food.
They also showed a fine example of team-work by creating and sharing a beautiful Blackberry Panacotta made from Cuinneog buttermilk.
We all sat around for a little while sharing ideas and notions about what might work and I feel certain that we will see a few joint efforts from this group of small business owners soon.
After lunch, we stole away for a few hours to enjoy the leisure centre at Hotel Westport where we overnighted. The pool is most certainly a huge attraction and I can tell you right now if you are thinking of a few nights away with the kids, this would be a great place to stay.
After our swim, we decided to chance our arm at a hike over near Clew Bay and boy am I ever glad we did. Raincoats were needed as the showers we intermittent – but after an hour, the skies cleared and the afternoon was just glorious. As if by magic.
Needless to say, the photo is enough to convince anyone to take a trek over to the Mayo coast for a little mini-break.
On our return trip back to Westport we stopped in to The Tavern, in Murrisk, to say hi to a new Chef-friend of ours (Myles) and his lovely wife. Myles had told us, earlier that morning, that the Mussels he serves at The Tavern are the best in Ireland because they are fished from the cleanest water in the country. No silt or sand, no cleaning needed. We thought this was a pretty big statement for him to make – but love it when people stand behind their product and insist they have the best. Sean Kelly in Newport does the same thing. They are always right.
Ron said they were the best Mussels he has ever eaten in Ireland. I had to agree. They were the freshest, most tender and tasty mussels … they reminded me A LOT of the mussels we used to get from PEI, when we had our restaurant in the US.
The next morning we headed north to the small town of Newport to pay a visit to Kelly’s Butcher shop. We have met Sean Kelly several times now and I always enjoy listening to him. He is the best motivational speaker around folks. None of that fluff with him. Get off your ass and work hard. Believe in your product. Don’t try to sell crap. Be the best in your field.
I stood back and watched him and his brother take care of a flurry of Saturday morning customers and marvelled at how everyone knew everyone. The meat display cases were filled to the brim with weekend niceties and weekday-savers but most people were asking for extras and personalised pieces.
Chops were cut thinner and thicker. Shanks were shorn, pieces were ordered on the bone and off the bone. Bespoke butchering if you will.
Recipes ideas were shared and the butchers convinced their customers to do as they were told because the Butcher knows their meat. Why wouldn’t they, and the cows and pigs and lambs only a few fields away. Sean said he had to stop apologising for the prices that he charges for the meat they butcher and sell
… ‘yes, it is a bit more expensive than what you get at the supermarket, but I hand pick the animals that go to slaughter. We have our own abattoir. I take care of the animal from the field to your fork’ …
I can’t imagine anyone as passionate about butchering as this man. He is the Meat mascot of Mayo for sure.
Once we had finished shopping for a few other necessities we loaded up our bags and headed back to Galway
right after a delicious cup of coffee in Kelly’s Kitchen (right next door to the Butcher) which is run by Shauna Kelly, daughter of Seán.
When we got home, we unloaded all our goodies and admired the strength of ‘local product pushing’ that goes on in Mayo. There are a few hard-core business owners that do so much more than ‘talk-the-talk’. They are out there, meeting, greeting and conniving on how to do it all better. How to put Mayo on the Map. They are not only ‘walking-the-walk’. They are running.
Should I tell them they’ve already done succeeded?
Tonight, as we wind down from our running around and settle the kids for their week at school, we will dine on a slow cooked mint and marjoram lamb shank that we bought when at Kelly’s. There will be a big loaf of Sourdough rye and a glass or two of wine. The fires have been lit. Autumn is well and truly here.
If you have, or know of, a unique Irish food product, and would like us to give you some feedback on the product, then please email us at WiseIrishFood@GMail.com
We are happy to help you get the word out -
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today – Up Mayo!
(A massive thank you goes out to Alma Feeley of Midas PR who took excellent care of us this past weekend).
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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About the Chef
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You might as well just come visit.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS
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