Articles by " WiseMóna"
Jan 13 2013

Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin (and a giveaway)

Posted by     174 Comments    in Reviews

 

Ah … January. You are cruel and cold to most of us.

Bills piling in from Christmas overspending, and the dank, dark, dull dreariness of winter doldrums lingering too long.

With all the low lying clouds about us here in Galway, you can imagine how fast we jumped at the opportunity to steal away for a night (or two) to the beautiful Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin’s fair city. Wow. What a treat we were in for.

The Fitzwilliam Hotel

St. Stephen’s Green,

 

Dublin 2, Ireland

+ 353 (0) 1 478 7000

enq@FitzwilliamHotel.com

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 16.51.59

To start with, they have very large beds and bathtubs big enough for two. I know. We are easily pleased, right?

We are too persnickety for our own good to be honest. Upon arrival, we checked in are were faced with the dilemma of where to dine. The Fitzwilliam Hotel boasts two award winning restaurants. Thornton’s being an institution in our capital already, and Citron having just been awarded Best Hotel Restaurant in 2012.  In a bout of eagerness and anticipation, we settled on Citron.

Met at the door on the mezzanine level of the hotel by a smiling waitress named Lucie who allowed us to sit wherever our hearts desired. We choose to sit along the right wall, fitted with plush leather banquette seating. We sat side-by-side, enjoying the lack of fussing and fidgeting that comes naturally to a brood of four kids under the age of 11, who were home with their Granny in Galway. God bless Granny.

Lucie came back to review the details of the menu and tried to sway us in the direction of chancing our arm with sampling of rabbit. Now, the Chef & I are not opposed to eating rabbit at all, as a matter of fact, we enjoy the meat quite a bit. But he had spied a trio of beef, and I a langoustine and poussin dish, with a pea risotto to share. All that food seemed like ‘enough’.

We declined her wishes and carried on.

But first a little ‘chips n’ dip’.

Irish readers…think Tayto and garlic mayo and all other readers who might not know what Tayto is . . think potato chips and dip. And …. think delicious.        Clever, crafy and cute. Almost a bit too much whimsy for me – but I am a fan of doing laundry, what with four kids and all,  so it got me good.

Crisp Clothes Line-1

Once the food started to arrive … all small, tidy amounts of food on a plate and nothing looking too large or overly fussed with, we lost track of time. The mushroom capped ceiling of lowlights, the beautiful French Rosé by the glass, the seamless service from the entire team at Citron. Not a beat was skipped and although they took entirely way too much care of us, we never once felt like they were there. For us, a sure sign of exemplary training. Sadly, not something we see much of, so we relished every second.

And every bite.

Pea Risotto,coconut foam, spiced pork belly & pea salsa

Until we threw in the towel and begged for our bill so we could retreat back to our room. We could eat no more …

Lucie was having none of it. She had convinced the Chef in the kitchen to plate us up a tiny portion of the rabbit dish she was insisting we try, which we did. It was indeed fabulous  and came with a side of pickled pear that we will have to replicate here soon on the blog.

Hands over our ears when she returned to sway the Chef to enter into dessert discussions, we declined and bid them all a good night.

As we had a meeting scheduled for later in the evening, we enjoyed a walk around St. Stephen’s Green before heading back to the hotel. As soon as we got back to our room, we received a call from our trusty friend Lucie, who felt that enough time must have passed for us to have surely changed our minds regarding dessert.

And, shur why not have it sent up to our room.

Strawberry & basil soup

This (above) dessert is called ‘Strawberry-basil’ soup. If you only go to the Fitzwilliam for a cup of tea … order this one and let me know how it is. The Chef ate every bite greedily and swears it is one of the most refreshing and exciting desserts he has ever had. And he – is a chocoholic!

 

SONY DSC

The following morning, on our way out to go for a walk, we noticed a tray full of gorgeous ‘special and significant’ messages waiting to be delivered to rooms on our floor. It is all these extra little touches that makes this hotel stand out from the others.

SONY DSC

Strolling around Grafton street, and enjoying the frosty day for what it was, we ambled along like tourists (which, technically we were as we do not know the city all that well) we found ourselves wishing the kids were with us. Silly, isn’t it. We had only been away for 12 hours.

SONY DSC

Dinner at Citron was special. The level of style and service in the restaurant and throughout the hotel is what earns it a five-star rating. The passion the culinary team have on display does not go un-noticed. Lucie’s persistence might have down right annoyed a person on any given day if it weren’t for the fact that she had a cracking smile the entire time, and she believed strongly that these dishes were as good as ‘all that and a bag of chips’.

Lucie – you are a gem of a girl. Well done.

Now – down to the fun part.

The Fitzwilliam Hotel have kindly given us an overnight at their gorgeous hotel, in one of those fabulous big beds, to include dinner for two at Citron with a bottle of wine and also breakfast-in-bed the next day.

We noticed that Valentines Day falls on a Thursday this year and have decided to offer this to our readers as a little token of our love for y’all here at WiseWords.

How to enter:

Leave a saucy comment finishing the sentence:

‘ I want to stay at The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin because …… ‘

AND a small song and dance I know :

you must be a subscribed reader of our WiseWords Blog and also need to pay a visit to the Fitzwilliam Hotel Facebook page to ‘like’ them or follow them on Twitter. If you neither Tweet or use Facebook then let me know and I will come up with a crafty song and dance for you to get your name in the hat,

Trust me, these guys are first class all the way. This give-a-way is open to anyone living anywhere in the world – assuming you are going to be here in Ireland to take advantage of it for Valentines Day weekend 2013.

Best of luck to you – the winner will be chosen at Random by ‘And the Winner is‘ on Sunday February 3rd 2013 and will be posted right here. Please remember that you are entering a competition for a get-a-way for two and you might actually win. If you find that you cannot steal away for the night then please have a deserving person in mind that you can gift this to as a token of your love and generosity. Be nice. Share the love.

Ok – those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

Disclaimer : We were ‘on-location’ in Dublin filming a reality show that will air on RTE in March 2013. The production company we are working with paid for our lovely stay at The Fitzwilliam Hotel. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to stay here are are delighted to give you the same chance. Best of luck and stay tuned over the next few weeks for more goody giveaways.

AND THE WINNER IS  - well done Steve!!

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 18.36.22

Jan 5 2013

{When in Galway} Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar

Posted by     21 Comments    in When in Galway

Lunares

3 Daly’s Place, (near McSwiggans)

Woodquay, Galway, Ireland

Phone + 353 (0) 91 44 56 18 / + 353 (0) 91 44 57 34

eMail : LunaresRestaurant@Hotmail.com

Facebook : Lunares

 

Lunares Facade

It is no secret that the world of (food) blogging can be downright competitive. I would even go as far as to say that there have been plenty of occasions where bloggers, despite many insisting it is a ‘supportive’ community, get down right nasty.

I manage to steer clear of a lot of it because I live in a small city and to my knowledge there is only one other food blogger in my hometown … she can kick my ass with her words any day of the week.

As a matter of fact, I am sharing this restaurant review with you today because she beat me to the finish-line with her review of Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar in yesterday’s weekly issue of the Galway Advertiser.

Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 18.44.25

I sent her a Tweet telling her that I could not have said it better myself.

Lunares wall sign 1

Lunares is what I like to call a ‘mom & pop’ shop. It is run by two sisters, Amaya & Virginia Fernandez (both chefs) with the help of Amaya’s husband, Lucho, and their son Alvaro, who handle the front of the house. The exterior is painted in a happy splash of yellow and red, livening up this nook of Galway. They have been open for over a year now and seem to be trucking along just nicely. Open daily from noon (or 1pm) onwards they have quite a decent range of menu items to choose from. With all we have eaten at Lunares I cannot imagine that anyone is complaining about their food, or their service, or their prices. There have only been a few reviews on Trip Advisor and so far – all looking good methinks.

Virginia and LuchoLucho and his sister-in-law Virginia taking a quick break

As much as the Chef & I enjoy dining alone when we get the chance, we very rarely actually eat a meal without our kids in tow. This restaurant is unique in the sense that it is a great date night place or equally suitable to bring the whole family. And so we did.

Ron & AmayaThe Chef making small talk with Amaya Fernandez regarding a few of the menu items we tasted today.

Here are a few photos from our last few visits. If you are not already hungry for your next meal then you will be when you get through looking at these.

Lunares house potatoes

One of their house specialities … Patatas Lunares …. lightly fried potatoes with serrano ham, topped with a perfectly poached egg. Note there are two eggs on this plate above because the Chef reckons they do the ‘best eggs’ in town.

Lunares soup

This is one of my favourites … Sopa Castellana … think egg drop soup with a chicken and tomato broth. I could dive in right now for another bowl for my supper and be very content for the evening. Note there are four small spoons sharing this massive bowl. No one complained about sharing and they are looking forward to their next Tapas adventure already.

Lunares croquettes

There may have been a few other little snacks for the kids …. like ham and cod croquettes. I have it on good authority that these were cooked perfectly but no-one offered to ‘share’ a bite of these nibblers.

Lunares Spicy prawns 

Prawns in a spicy tomato sauce … there is a secret ingredient in this one; you MUST try it.

Lunares Guitar

A bit of whimsy on the wall …

Lunares dining room

Window seats and soft cushions inviting us to linger longer at the table ….

Lunares whimsy chicken

A bit of kitsch to remind us not to take everything so seriously and just kick back and have a bit of fun ..

Lunares Wine bottle cozies

A reminder that it is two women running the kitchen … love this one.

but my personal favourite bit of décor from Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar is this ….there is love in their kitchen … and it is certainly evident in their food.

Lunares Wall sign Food Heart

Oh …. and the fact that lunch for seven starving people cost €53.00 … that was with two glasses of wine … hic!

Go to Lunares. Mark it on your calendar … make an evening out of it. I hear they have traditional Spanish music at the weekends too.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

The blogging authorities have stated, and rightly so, that bloggers must declare if they were, in any way, compensated for reviewing restaurants, products, books etc. In this particular instance, like 99% of my reviews, this was paid for in its entirety by us here at WiseWords; and worth every penny. If you have a restaurant or café or food product you would like us to review then please send us a link via email to MonaZWise@GMail.com or just share the link in the comments section down below. 

Dec 31 2012

Happy New Year …. let’s have a wee WiseWords review

Posted by     24 Comments    in The Snug

Wow. What an amazing year.

I cannot wait to see where 2013 brings us.

The kids are all happy and healthy, thank goodness. My Mum, who is like a 3rd parent to our kids here at ChezWise, is also happy and healthy and keeps a close watch over us. For this, her health and her love, we are truly blessed.

The Chef & I are just like all other couples out there trying to work and raise a family at the same time. We  abide by the rule of loving each other 80% of the time and wanting to kill each other the other 20%.

Life.is.good.

I thought it best to start where I left off last year in late December where I reviewed our year of salads.

Simplicity at its best

Simplicity at its best

But any salad worth its salt needs a decent loaf of bread …

February is the 'love' month

February is the ‘love’ month

 

February got off to an excellent start as I was asked to give a talk on food blogging at The Foodie Forum which was held at GMIT last year (and is only around the corner so save the date for Tuesday February 5th 2013). I was a bag of nerves at first, as I would not consider myself to have great orating skills, but the crowd at this event were my kind of people. Farmers, fishermen, butchers, bakers, chefs, cooks, bloggers and of course, teachers – every single one of them. I can’t even begin to fathom how the organisers will improve this years event but have it on great authority that it will, of course, be a delicious and educational experience for all.

Kitchen  chaos

Kitchen chaos

 

Then Annie Atkins came to visit and took some amazing shots of our family – kicking the book writing and designing project into serious high gear. The rest of the year is a blur but I am going to force myself to carry on because there are a few more pretty pictures to look at!

Goatsbridge Trout Caviar

Goatsbridge Trout Caviar

 

In March we were delighted to sample a few jars of Goatsbridge Trout Caviar. Oh-M-Geeeeee was this ever a highlight of our foodie year. What a delicious product.

 

Our daily eggs

Our daily eggs

 

April brought many treats to the table and all homegrown. We have not had to buy eggs for two and a half years now and have cut back to eating most of our own chickens, ducks and turkeys. If you have been thinking about doing this – then the time is now; don’t be shy about rearing your own turkeys – the meat is by far the tastiest of the bunch.

Breaking news - we have six ducklings!

Breaking news – we have six ducklings!

 

I had to include an extra ‘bird’ shot here. Because they are just too darn cute!

Now, moving on to the madness that was the month of May.

 

The Chef & I at home with the ducks

The Chef & I at home with the ducks

 

To start with, The Sunday Times offered us a weekly column in their new and fabulous Sunday section. We started May 13th 2012 and have been sharing three recipes weekly since then. This has been, thus far, one of the coolest experiences a blogging gal like myself could ever have with one of the highlights being the Christmas party at the Odessa Club. So.much.fun.

 

Could not wait to get out of her shoes xx

Could not wait to get out of her shoes xx

 

And as May was one of our busiest months …. we had a special day for our Rory Belle.

 

Book - Launched.

Book – Launched.

 

Jeepers. How much could a gal cram into a month?  I will never forget that evening. So so so many friends, family members, teachers, employers and people I had never met in my life, all there to celebrate the birth of a new book. Thank you, each and every one of you. Yes, this was pretty fabulous experience and I feel very fortunate to have achieved the starting and finishing of my first book all in due time and I even earned a distinction for my efforts at college. Job.Well.Done.

There is gobs of feedback and reviews of the book all over the internet but this one is one of my favourites because it includes ‘the chef’ and this one hits the nail on the head too.

On a side note, and kudos to my dear blogging buddy and comrade in arms here in Galway, Anne Marie Carroll was also hired to write a food column for the Galway Advertiser. Blogging, especially food blogging, is starting to pay off for many of us in the Irish Food Blogging scene; So play nice boys and girls.

It is the little things that mean the most ...

It is the little things that mean the most …

We spent some time at Lisloughrey Lodge these past few months and our most memorable stay had to be in June. Right after the book launch, they invited us down for a quiet night away from it all. We have never had such a good nights sleep and cannot recommend this place highly enough for a mini-break.

Two of my most favorite people in the whole world. My youngest brother Kenneth and my niece (his godchild) GéGé who admitted she loves her Uncle MORE than her Aunt. ....

Two of my most favorite people in the whole world. My youngest brother Kenneth and my niece (his godchild) GéGé who admitted she loves her Uncle MORE than her Aunt. ….

 

July brought a massive amount of mayhem to our house with all the cousins visiting for three long glorious weeks. All but one of my siblings home for summer holidays. We took time to smell all the roses.

 

Rory Belle (age 9) Jack (age 7)

Rory Belle (age 9) Jack (age 7)

August saw a flying visit from my friend Simone (who has an excellent blog called Jungle Frog blog). She took a smattering of food and kid photos that we have on file now for our second book ‘The Chef & I …. with kids’. We will get cracking on that in the new year and I will keep y’all updated on how it is going. Truth be told – I miss the book writing. These last few months in college are killing my creativity and stifling me with dense dreary texts and essay writing. But I have started so I will finish. Only 12 weeks of class left to go.

So September rolled in and back to final year of my undergrad in college I went, after having had a year off of regular classes to live the life of a writer and write my book. The easiest way to describe that transition is to look at the photos below.

This is life before I went back to college …. gorgeous, vibrant, happy, tasty, exciting.

SONY DSC

And this is what life is like ‘in college’ …. and just as an FYI – this is real canteen food.

Are we still stuck in the seventies here or what?

Are we still stuck in the seventies here or what?

 

Ok – I might be over dramatising it a wee bit … but my goodness I am so ready to be done with college.

12 more weeks. 12 more weeks. 12 more weeks.

 

October how I loved you because you gave me the best gift of all ….

 

My mum, Catherine, myself and the Chef.

My mum, Catherine, myself and the Chef.

 

A night out with my Mum AND the Chef …. and a few gorgeous prizes to take home with me. The whole experience of winning the Blog Awards in Ireland is still very surreal to me. I will admit, that my reaction to cower and hide and feel like I had not earned it has now passed and I am working even harder on a new blogging plan for 2013. Stay tuned!

 

SONY DSC

 

November brought rain … study and exam stress into our WiseWorld. But there were a few days where we caught glimpses of sun and I always managed to capture it with the camera. This (above) is a scallop star. Puff pastry with a scalloped inside and a mustard dressing on a bed of rocket. Every home should have one.

A chef that is.

 

SONY DSC

 

December brought colour back into my life … lots of foodie family fun. I have let go of the study stress for now and will face it on January 7th when I get back in to college for final semester. I.love.saying.that.

‘Final’ semester.

Aside from the Foodie Forum (February 5th at GMIT) I will also be participating in the Waterford Writers festival (March 21st to 24th 2013) and have also been invited to present a paper at a Gastronomy Symposium at GMIT 9th May 2013. You have no idea how much this terrifies me …. I am writing and presenting my paper on ‘Food & Social Media’.

 

Me in the mirror

Me in the mirror

 

So … there you have it. A well balanced wrap up of the year. The next few months are going to be INSANELY busy for the Chef & I, but hey, nothing we can’t handle.

I cannot thank y’all enough for all the love and support you have shown me here at WiseWords throughout the year. Blogtopia can be a lonely place and sometimes filled with a lot of crazies….so it is hard to stand your ground and just march to the beat of your own drum.

So, thank YOU … for reading WiseWords.

 

WiseMóna

Dec 30 2012

Miele Sunday Times Dessert Competition

We love judging competitions, so when we were invited to join Miele at their Über cool test kitchen in CityWest, Dublin, a few weeks ago, to judge their dessert-off competition, we were only too delighted to head east for a day of tasting and judging fun. Along the way we stopped in to Avoca in Rathcoole and enjoyed a quick bite of lunch in their cafe. The christmas carols were streaming throughout the shopping arena and we certainly felt like the christmas and shopping season was going full tilt.  It would have been very easy to get lost in that shopping complex for a couple of hours, but duty called. We headed over to Miele shortly after lunch and the four finalists were already working up a few treats in the kitchen.

Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla   - Banana Amaretto Mousse and Hazelnut brittle cake.

Banana Amaretto Mousse and Hazelnut brittle cake by Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

Judging a competition like this can be a bit nerve wrecking. First, you have to review all the submissions, then, before you whittle it down to the finalists you need to test the recipes to see if they pan out the way the recipe creator intended.

You could tell from the way the contestants glided around the Miele showroom that they were seasoned bakers, all quite capable of making and baking their favourite dessert, and certainly all eligible to win the amazing prize; €10,000 euros worth of Miele kitchen appliances. Wouldn’t we all like a few new pieces of kitchen kit?

We observed with interest and listened intently to each contestant as they told us the story behind their creations. One of the desserts, and possibly the most complicated recipe of the bunch, was a gorgeous banana and amaretto cake. Another, a rich, dark chocolate cake decorated to the nines followed by a third cake, layers of pastry and jam smothered in an exquisite chocolate ganache.

 

Chocolate Ganache 1

Celebration chocolate cake by Catherine Gibney

 

We had a scoring system drafted and myself and Ron along with Margaret Crerar (from Miele) sampled each dessert one by one, stopping only for a sip of water to prepare us for the next bite. We sampled, we scored, and then we sampled a bit more. We then left the room to chat a little bit about the scoring system we were using and what we liked or disliked about each dessert. You can be sure we factored in how stressful it can be for any baker, novice or amateur, to come in to someone else’s kitchen and make or bake their favourite dessert. All four of the contestants were incredibly calm, cool and collected and the proof was certainly in the puddings.

Finalists Miele

All contestants with the judges

Interestingly enough, all three of us with judging hats on had picked the (same) winner and it was from the first bite of a cake called ‘Grandmas gift’. A meringue and sponge layered cake, unlike anything we, or most others who were in attendance, had ever tasted. Now, many of you will have sponge cake in your repertoire and I am sure plenty of you make meringues or pavlovas to beat the band. It was the marrying of the two of these gorgeous desserts that sealed the deal.

Gerbaud Cake

Gerbeaud Cake by Erika Hoffmann (photo by Móna Wise)

The other three contestants worked as hard and as diligently as Geraldine, and did leave with a goody bag from Miele to take home with them. We were delighted that they came to spend the day with us in Dublin and hope to see them enter the competition again next year for another shot at wining a few new pieces of Miele appliances. If you would like copies of the other recipes please email me and I will send them on to you at MonaZWise@GMail.com

Judges Miele

We tasted and we tried

Geraldine Holohan, a grandmother now herself, presented her interesting and truly exceptional cake on a stunning silver platter that she had received from Macy’s department store (New York City) years prior, and it is on this very platter that she always serves her favourite cake. A good omen we would call it, but we assure you this cake would taste fabulous even if served on a paper plate.

Winner Miele 2

Best shot of the day . . .total surprise for a deserving win!

Judging food competitions, be they savoury or sweet is a lot of fun, but of course, in most cases, there can only be one winner. Complexity of a recipe, choice of ingredients, texture, taste and over all presentation of the dessert were all taken into consideration when we three agreed that this was the winner alright.

 

Winner  and Margaret from Miele

Miele Sunday Times Dessert Competition
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Irish Food
 

Winner of the Miele Sunday Times competition: Geraldine Holohan Meringue Cake Many years ago, just before I got married, my grandmother gave me this recipe. She said “Try this recipe for your first dinner party and your guests will be anxiously awaiting your next invitation”. How right she was. Over the years I have baked it many many times and each time it was very much enjoyed. The meringue cake is unusual in that a thin layer of cake mixture is baked with a covering of meringue. You might well imagine that this would not work. But it does and the result is a great eating quality as well as looking most attractive. I vary the fruit used for the filling depending what I have. Raspberries, strawberries and cherries work well as does a blackberry and apple puree. The preparation time is 20 minutes and the baking takes approximately 45 minutes.
Ingredients
  • What you will need
  • The cake mixture
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz flour
  • A little vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons creamy milk
  • The meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 oz sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • The filling
  • Fruit of choice
  • 1 cup cream
  • Sugar as necessary

Instructions
  1. Instructions
  2. How to prepare it
  3. Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake tins with circles of greased paper.
  4. Now prepare the cake mixture: cream the margarine and sugar together and when light, beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Then add the flour and other ingredients alternately with the milk. Divide the mixture between the two tins and spread evenly.
  5. Now make up the meringue: add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar. Divide between the two cake tins and swirl attractively. Sprinkle one cake with the flaked almonds. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 45 minutes at 150ºC.
  6. When the cake is cold sandwich generously together with a mixture of whipped cream and fruit. The cake sprinkled with the flaked almonds should be uppermost.

We took a little creative license with Geraldine’s recipe and cooked the sponge cake part separately to the meringue and then layered the cake with fruit and cream to make this one of the most delicious pieces we have ever tried in our kitchen. Also, Geraldine did use some stewed cranberry compote in her winning cake presentation and I have to say that shows again how versatile this dessert really is. A winner for all seasons. Congratulations again Geraldine. A well deserved win.

Winning cake recipe

Winning cake recipe – make this. (Photo by Móna Wise)

 

Special thanks to Clodagh Kilcoyne Photography for all the gorgeous shots from that day. You can find her on Facebook right here!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

 

Dec 24 2012

Merry Christmas from WiseWords

Posted by     24 Comments    in The Snug

 

 This new toy of the Chef’s has been taking up all of my time. It had to travel quite the distance to get here and now that it is here and working it seems that he will be spending even more time outside ‘cooking’.

SONY DSC 

We made Cranberry Pies this year. I am thinking of quitting school and starting a production line. They are that good.

SONY DSC 

I should be straightening up around here because we are having a mahoosive party here on St. Stephens’ Day – in less than 48 hours. But I am certain that a messy desk is the sign of creative works …. right?

SONY DSC 

The veg is prepped and the Turkey is bathing in brine right now. We are half ready for tomorrow. I am still the dishbitch around here so am not going to stress about anything other than the perfectly set table and the perfectly chilled wine.

SONY DSC 

I still have another batch of cookies to make, bake and ice before Wednesday.

SONY DSC 

Yeah – this is the kitchen table right now …. still buried under a pile of laundry. It.never.ends.

SONY DSC 

We have just had a Christmas Eve cocktail . . . and are thinking about the year we have had. How much we enjoyed visiting with those that came from near and far and how much we miss all our friends and family members scattered all over the world.

SONY DSC 

This year, our polytunnel has had its best production ever and I cannot wait to see the seedlings start to sprout soon for Spring!

SONY DSC 

The final few tomatoes – still on the vine – will be in our salad tomorrow.

Yes – we will eat salad on Christmas Day.

SONY DSC 

We are also going to eat brown bread stuffing …. because that is my favourite.

SONY DSC 

And – we are also going to eat Key Lime Pie …. because the Chef made one and we got real Key Lime extract so it tastes AWESOME.

SONY DSC

 

 

So – there you have it. We are messy and content here in Galway. We are a tad lonely for all our friends and hope that this year (2013) will be the one where you decide to come visit us (again). And even though loneliness always hits us at the holidays – there is no place like home.

We are so glad to be here in Galway right next door to my Mum. She has the kids right now and is taking them to Christmas Eve mass where they will be singing in the choir – and we are wrapping presents! Ho ho ho!!!

Life.is.Good.

Thanks for an absolutely amazing year.

I’ll be all back on the blogging bandwagon in the new year … with a few surprises tucked up my sleeve xx

Merry Christmas,

Móna & Ron Wise

Nov 30 2012

What comes next

Posted by     34 Comments    in Kitchen

 

Burnt out.

This is where I am at.

As you can see, I am studying for my exams. Studying so hard I have decided to listen to an audio book rendition of Virginia Woolf”s Mrs Dalloway because I might go blind if I read it again. I have hit the wall of ‘college burnout’ and can now totally understand ‘why’ people drop out.

College.is.hard. and for me, seemingly never-ending.

The thing is ….. when a girl is burnt out….one can tend to drag the whole family down so I have to do my best to keep my head above water.

I should try harder to stay calm and just make make some tea to have with these delicious muffins that I baked.

Yes. Do not adjust your screens or volume control …

I did in fact bake them but I got the chef to decorate them.

That is why they look so tasty.

If you are getting ready to ice some Christmas cookies or a gingerbread house then watch this video first …. then go over and follow the tutorials on this blog and then send me some photos to share of what you are baking and decorating this Christmas (on Twitter or on Facebook or right here on the blog).

Note – I have not shared what mine look like . . but if want to turn this into the ‘worst’ decorating job ever then I am so there.

A copy of our book  (or maybe two copies if y’all are fabulous like) goes to the winner which the Chef will choose by December 15th.

(on a side note – Kenny’s is still shipping our book for free worldwide so if you want to send a fabulous present to your loved ones abroad – please keep us in mind).

This recipe is an easy one and the mascarpone cream cheese frosting is sinful. As in, one might eat it by the spoonful it tastes so good.

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Chocolate Cherry Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Cupcakes
Cuisine: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 12
 

Chocolate cherry cupcakes with Mascarpone cream cheese frosting.
Ingredients
  • For the muffins:
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking/bread soda
  • 140g cherries (from a tin)
  • 100g white chocolate chips
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g raw cane sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml vanilla yogurt
  • 100g butter, melted
  • For the frosting:
  • 250g Mascarpone cheese
  • 60g powdered/icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Line your muffin tin with some muffin cases.
  2. Sift the flour, and baking soda into a bowl, then stir in the chocolate and sugar. Add the beaten eggs, yogurt and then the butter and mix until it has formed a good batter-like consistency. Add in the juice from the tinned cherries if you wanted added sweetness. Then add in the cherries (cut in half) at the last minute.
  3. It doesn’t matter if the mixture looks a bit lumpy. Over mixing might make your muffins a bit tough. On a side note we made ours with Spelt wheat flour and they were pretty kick ass.
  4. Fill the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 mins until risen and golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. If you eat them warm, the chocolate is all melty and messy. And, I’m told, delicious.
  5. While they are cooling, mix the mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla together using an electric mixer until it fluffs up nicely. Add colour if so desired and ice away!

 

 

Yesterday, I gave a lecture ‘on blogging’ to first year students at NUIG. This was one of the best experiences I have had  thus far since starting my blog in 2007. I gave a one-hour presentation and had a Q&A session afterwards and I brought these muffins in for all the students.

So. College is hard. Damn hard.

The decision as to whether I should carry on to do an MA or take a year off is impossibly hard because it affects more than just me. It affects the kids, the husband and of course, my Mum. And we all know that she is ‘the boss’ so we have to keep her happy.

I hate having to make decisions like this … but all the paperwork and applications have to be submitted in December / January … so a girl has to put her thinking cap on and make a decision.

What would you do?

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

 

 

 

Nov 21 2012

The Sunday Times. October 14th 2012. Blackberry Cumberland, Cajun Pasta and Scallop stars.

Hello fellow food lovers,

It is wet and dreary and cold. I am trying to get all caught up on sharing a back long of The Sunday Times weekly recipes and I am loving all the light bright photos I  have been flitting in and out of all weekend. The evenings have grown so short here in Galway since the time change and now, it is almost completely dark before 5pm each evening. I feel like hibernating, don’t you? Wake me up when the crocuses and snowdrops start to bloom.

I feel it would be unfitting if we did not mention how proud we are that Galway now has a Michelin star restaurant (Aniar), the first, and hopefully not the last, for the city of the tribes. When we moved back to Galway four years ago there was a slow and steady throb of excitement in the food and restaurant sector but it almost seemed like people were afraid to step out of their comfort zone and push the proverbial envelope when it came to dining out. JP McMahon (owner of Cava and EAT restaurants too) and his creative crew (Enda McEvoy – executive chef) have exceeded the expectations of all Galwegians, and then some. We are delighted to see them putting Galway on the Michelin map and hope many of you will come to sample their fabulous menu.

The notion of a restaurant serving up foraged food on a plate is very hip these days and finding the balance between something that looks and tastes like weeds to something that looks like but certainly tastes nothing like a weed takes skill. A few weeks ago shared a recipe for blackberry buttermilk buns and since then have discovered that the leaves of the blackberry bushes, when steeped in boiling water with a spoonful of honey, can help reduce the inflammation caused by a sore throat. Imagine, all these years we have been picking the fruit from the bramble bushes without ever knowing that the leaves had a value. This is what foraging teaches us.

The first recipe we are sharing this week is another for blackberries. Cumberland sauce, as we know or remember it, pours a bit thin, like a syrup. We have included a recipe for Blackberry cumberland sauce that is more of a chutney or jam than a syrup. It is also delicious and we are sure you will love it on a piece of roasted meat for Sunday supper or just by itself on a slice of cheddar cheese.

The second recipe we are sharing is for a pasta dish. Pasta is the fastest option to turn to in our house when everyone is in a hurry and starving. Although we do make a lot of our own pasta from scratch, there are several excellent fresh pasta options out there and tagliatelle is our favourite. The recipe is really for the sauce. Roasting bell peppers (and peeling the blackened skin off) enhances the overall flavour of the pepper, making it an excellent addition to any sauce or stew. It also decreases the chances of there being any digestive issues as most of the bitterness comes from the skin. Although we made ours a seafood pasta, you could throw a piece of chicken or pork into the sauce just as easily or keep it light and just add more veg at the end.

Our third recipe is our little way to nudge you into the entertaining spirit. Now that everyone has settled back into school, it is time start thinking about entertaining for the holiday season. This Scallop star appetiser does require a bit of finagling with the pastry but is worth every minute of your time. It is not often you see mustard sauce served with seafood but in this case the marriage of flavours works incredibly well. You can make your own puff pastry from scratch (email us for a recipe if you want one) but the pre-made pastry works just fine too.

This batch of recipes should put you in the mood for entertaining. The blackberry cumberland is delicious. That sweet mustard shallot tang will stand up well to a sizzling piece of duck or a slab of cold cheddar. We served it with a piece of duck. Our own back yard duck. You can only imagine how good this tasted.

Blackberry Cumberland Sauce – makes 500 ml of sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce
 

Introduction We like to freeze things around here. Even if it is just a small amount of something we have grown or foraged. There is nothing quite like having a good old rummage in the freezer and finding a small tub of sauce or soup that you stashed away in the prime of summer, for a rainy day. This recipe is one of those items that will end up in the freezer. It is called sauce, but really sets up like a fabulous thick jam and can be called upon to dress up any Sunday roast or even a day-after-Christmas turkey sandwich. Best to forage the last few berries off the bushes this week and start planning your freezer finds for a cool night in January. Enjoy.
Ingredients
  • What you will need
  • 400 g [2 cups] blackberries
  • 240 ml [1 cup] dessert wine or port
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp Orange/citrus zest

Instructions
  1. How to prepare
  2. Sauté the shallots in the butter with the black pepper and salt. Add in the blackberries and mash them up a bit to release the juices. Pour in the wine (or port) and bring to a slow simmer. Add in the brown sugar, mustard and zest. Taste (careful not to burn your tongue) and adjust seasoning as necessary. Sometimes a squeeze of an orange will bring it to perfection but a lot has to do with your own personal taste. We like to serve this a little thicker than a traditional cumberland which is typically served runny like a syrup. The children love this on a piece of brown bread with a thick slice of Mossfield organic cheese for their school lunches.

A recipe for cajun pasta that will knock your socks off – because it is so very very simple

Cajun Cray fish  pasta – serves 4 as an appetizer

A few weeks ago we received a small bag of crayfish from a friend of ours. The tiniest and most flavour packed present we have ever seen. Their is not a lot of meat on their little bodies but the shells are chock full of flavour so after you cook them for a few minutes in boiling water, remove the fish from the shells saving it for your dinner and make a small pot of fish stock from the shells. This is handy to have on hand when making a chowder for lunch on a Saturday. Waste not want not.

 

What you will need

For the sauce

1 small onion, large dice

40 g [1/3 cup] celery, large dice

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

A pinch of salt and black pepper

1 Tbsp butter

A small pinch of dried oregano, basil and cayenne.

A small sprig of fresh thyme

1 red bell pepper, roasted and skin removed

120 ml 1/2 cup stock (fish or chicken)

240 ml [1 cup] cream

125 g cray fish, pre-cooked

 

What you will need

For the pasta

250 g of fresh Tagliatelle pasta

 

How to prepare – the sauce 

Sauté the onion, celery and garlic in a bit of butter with salt and pepper until tender (about 8 minutes on medium heat).

Add remaining herbs and spices and the red bell pepper.

Deglaze with the 1/2 cup of stock and add 1 cup of cream.

Simmer for ten minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until the sauce is smooth.

Add in the pre-cooked cray fish. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

 

How to prepare – the pasta

Cook the pasta in 2 liters of boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Make sure not to overcook it, you want it al dente. Drain once cooked and then add to your cajun cray fish sauce. Serve immediately.

and finally we have  a recipe to get you thinking about those Christmas parties you are throwing ….

Scallop stars.

Scallop Stars

When using with puff pastry you need to work fast with very cold pastry. Roll it out and cut it as fast as you can and do not over work it as it might end up very chewy and dense; It should be light and flaky. Once you have the scallops seared and ready to put into the pastry stars, practice first on a few pieces of paper, just to be sure you get it right before you put it in the oven. If entertaining you can bake these ahead and eat them at room temperature if desired.

 

What you will need

320 g puff pastry (1 box store bought is fine or email us for a recipe)

4 large scallops

1 egg, for egg wash

 

What you will need – for the sauce

1 small onion/shallot, fine dice

2 tsp butter

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

3 Tbsp cream

Salt & black pepper to taste

Optionalto make this more of a main meal than an appetiser

1 kilo prawns, shelled

 

How to prepare – the sauce

Sauté the onion in some butter and oil. Add in the scallops, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for two minutes on each side. Do not burn the onions; if you have to, take them out of the pan while the scallops cook. (if using prawns to make a bigger meal out of this then add them in here).

Deglaze the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice and worcestershire sauce and add in the wholegrain mustard. Reduce heat and add the cream and mix well with wooden spoon. Finish with a knob of butter and fresh parsley. Remove scallops and add them to the pastry (below) and reserve the sauce for later.

 

How to prepare – the pastry

Cut the sheet of pastry into four perfect squares; only use very cold puff pastry.

Place each square on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

At each corner, cut a diagonal slice almost to the middle but not quite (1/2”).

Egg wash the edges. Place a cooked scallop in the center of each pastry square.

Take the left side of each corner and fold it over to meet itself and continue to do so in a pinwheel fashion. Practice first with paper. Once you have sealed the scallop in the star/pinwheel shaped pastry puff, egg wash the outside of the pastry.

Bake in a 220ºC oven for 10 – 15 minutes (depending on your oven).

Serve on a bed of salad greens with the sauce poured on top.

 

Enjoy the read and recipes … and thanks for all the emails and support guys and dolls. I cannot tell you how hard it has been adjusting back to the life of a student …I honest-to-god cannot wait to get back to the world of ‘work’ and away from the madness that is the world of academia. Almost finished with this semester so only 12 more weeks of ‘college/structured class’ after Christmas then we can take our life off ‘hold’ and get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is.

Your support on Facebook/Twitter/here on the blog , the emails and the steady flow of book sales works wonders for a gal.

Thank you xxx

WiseMóna

 

 

Nov 15 2012

The Sunday Times. October 7th 2012. Recipes for Venison hotpot, Mushroom & Quinoa Goetta and warm potato and sausage salad.

 

 

 

 

Venison hot pot noodle bowl

Hello fellow food lovers,

I am hoping to get a back log of recipes (published weekly in our column for The Sunday Times) uploaded to the blog over the next few days.

I am back in final year of college and we just received our exam timetable yesterday. I am finished Semester 1 on December 14th … and have a few days of running around after that getting ready or Christmas before the kids get off school.

Come January I will be headed into my final semester of this four year undergrad and I am excited about just getting finished so we can take our life off hold and I can get back to ‘working’.

 

Mushroom Goetta for breakfast

 

I hope you enjoy the recipes. We are particularly fond of the Mushroom Goetta one as it reminds us of our former life back in Cinainnati where Goetta is a very popular breakfast dish. If you have not tried it, now is your chance! Ours is a veggie recipe so it is perfect for those of you that want a delicious savoury and nutritious alternative to the traditional Irish breakfast.

Click above for story and recipes

If you have any special recipe requests for Christmas, then send me a quick email (MonaAndRon@Sunday-Times.ie) and we will get cracking on it.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

Nov 12 2012

Corn and Cauliflower Chowder

Posted by     28 Comments    in Kitchen

 

 

Soup ….. or Chowder.

Call it what you will.

We steer clear of the thin and lacklustre ‘veg’ soup and favour bigger bolder flavours with a bit of body.

 

 

 

4.5 from 2 reviews

Corn and Cauliflower Chowder
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup / Chowder
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Chunky Comforting Corn and Cauliflower Chowder.
Ingredients
  • 125 g smoked streaky rashers of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 260 g corn, frozen
  • A half head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 240 ml chicken/veg stock
  • 500 ml skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, uncooked

Instructions
  1. Sauté bacon until cooked then add the onion and cook until it softens but do not let it brown.
  2. Season with salt and pepper then add the cauliflower and frozen corn.
  3. Add the chicken stock, cover with lid and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Test the cauliflower to see if it is cooked (if not, allow a few more minutes) and then add the milk and more white pepper if needed.
  5. Bring to the boil slowly. Scrape fresh corn off the cob and add in at the last minute right before serving, reserving a decent spoonful for the top.

 

Ladled into a bowl steaming hot coupled with spice from the white pepper, this is delicious.

Oh yeah … and there is bacon in it too.

 

Corn Chowder … with crackers

 

This is one of our favourite soups ever and I would love to know if you would ever make this or eat it?

Call it a ‘social experiment’ if you will.

Humour me please xx

WiseMóna

** Please note that while this might seem that I might have actually made this soup myself, be under no illusion that I did. My willing husband, the chef, made it for me. He is ever so willing. **

Nov 10 2012

Voting in Ireland .. it is not too late

Posted by     14 Comments    in The Snug

 

Ok – this is not a food related post … so tune out now if you came here for something delicious.

This is a quick view into the way ‘voting’ happens in Ireland.

 

It was not so rainy today … so why the poor voter turnout?

Today, we left it a little late (but the polls do not close until 10:00pm) to get over to the kids national school to exercise our constitutional right and vote in this very important referendum. If you have not voted get your rear end to the polling station and VOTE – because this referendum concerns the welfare of Children.

Typically, we get a little card in the mail to carry with us to our polling station on the day of the vote. We must also bring along our passports or drivers licence as identification. This week, we received nothing in the Irish post and when I asked at the local post office about this they told me I could still go and vote, even without my voting card as long as I had the proper identification.

The Chef & I carry dual citizenship (America & Ireland) and we vote in every election.

We arrive at the school and are disappointed to see how quiet it is (no cars outside) but hey, folks have had all day to vote and it was nearing supper time so maybe they have all come and gone and are back home milking the cows and putting the animals in for the night already.

There are three rooms to choose from and outside each room there is a notice board with sequence numbers in the thousands. I reckon if we had our voters registration cards we would have known automatically which room to vote in.

In each room there are a few people (very nice people) stationed to ‘locate’ each voter and man the large metal voting boxes.

We go into the first room and ask if they can find us.

Voting helper person : Address please

Me: Rockwood road

Voting helper person : Do you know the name of your street in Irish? (Gaelic for any Americans reading).

Me: (totally red-faced) Am, no. Sorry I don’t. It just says ‘Rockwood’ on the road sign, it is not in Irish. (still trying to make up an Irish name in my head)

Voting helper person : Takes out list that is sorted by NUMBER and starts to look for us ‘Wises’.

Me : Standing there horrified that I can not only see the names and numbers of everyone that is registered to vote, I can actually SEE whether or not they have shown up to vote.

At 6:00pm on November 10th it seemed like less than 10% of Claregalway voters had turned out to vote. I am not happy about knowing this information for many reasons and the biggest one being it is NONE OF MY DAMN BUSINESS.

Sigh.

They could not ‘find us’ without knowing  the Irish road name … and they did not know the name of our street in Irish either.

We moved on to the second room and at this point I was growing a little annoyed but mostly because I had just seen all this information that is, as I just mentioned, none of my business.

Room two :

The exact same thing happened.

We were not on that list either.

Third and final room – with help from the nice folks in room 2 – we finally are ‘found’ on a list, listed under ‘Cregboy’ which, and wait for it, is in ENGLISH, and one street over from where we live.

I say to the (very young) chap who is helping out in this room ‘shame there was such a low turn out for the vote today, it is such an important one’ and he says ‘ah, shur its a Saturday. People have better things to be doing’.

We were handed our voting cards, we voted and returned home. No one asked us for our ID and our vote was written in ‘pencil’ on a piece of paper because there were no pens.

I want to die. Shady…..shady……shady………

The national news has just reported that there was as little as 2% turnout for the Children’s referendum today.

Why, Ireland. Why?

 

 

If you are reading this, and you are Irish have not yet voted today … the polls are open until 10:00pm tonight.

Please, get out and vote. It is not even raining!

WiseMóna

 

About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
  • Contact Mona
Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

From The Kitchen

image
Nettles 1
Galway Film Fleadh
IMG_5365
20140523-083005-30605261.jpg
soft cheese mini image
Achill Lambs 1
Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.36.04
mccambridges-galway
Asian crop
MWMUM
SONY DSC
Blackberries
Back to school Blues
untitled-1-2-1
Peach Pie Slice
WiseWords Logo Black:white
Scallops peas 1
Rhubarb Cordial
Galway Easter platter
Meyrick - exterior (sunny)
SONY DSC
SONY DSC
DSC01886
SONY DSC

Buy the Book

The Chef and I

SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS

Click Here to Purchase

Best Food & Wine Blog (2012) Best Photo Blog (2012) Best Blog of a Journalist (2012) and Best OVERALL Blog (2012)

blog awards ireland

Recent Comments

Top Food Blog

Top Food Blogs

Archives

Sound Cloud