Galway produces some real gems from time to time, and this new one I am going to share with you today, Larder 360, is one of them.
There are constant rumours and murmurings of the recession being over and although we have yet to fully experience this in the west of Ireland, I think it is safe to say, things can only get better! Larder 360 is a new concept, and while we have seen many businesses launch (and fail) over the last few years, one of the nice things about this new venture, is that we can see some of our favourite ones survive, and now thrive.
Larder 360 is the brainchild of a few local farmers here in the west. The lads from Castlemine farms, who have been in bed with The Friendly Farmer for years sharing a produce stand at the local markets, decided it was time to expand their offerings. But, as we all know, small producers are often met with harsh realities like the expense of having a distribution centre (heavy with refrigeration) and finding a reliable, economical and affordable delivery/courier service.
Out of all these dilemmas, a delicious idea, Larder 360, was born and a few more local producers were added to their offerings. Some of them you already know, and a few more of them you should get to know! (That Blakes Organic Chocolate is killer!)
So what exactly is Larder 360? It is an online shop offering you quality foods, convenience of sourcing, buying, delivery and affordability, all bundled up into one cooler delivered to your front door at home (or at the office!). Right now, the deliveries are restricted to County Galway, but as they grow, they will expand, county by county.
With their local distribution centre housed in Oranmore (091-79 2899), the lads are already busy filling coolers with orders placed online. All coolers are filled by Thursday evening each week and deliveries made on Fridays.
Last week, our delivery consisted of a little meat and fish. The order tallied up to just over €100 and this is what we got for it.
Sausage/Streaky bacon (rashers)
Beef shin on the bone
Rack of Lamb
2 bars of Blakes Organic Chocolate
When I asked himself what he thought, specifically if he felt this was ‘worth €100’ he said:
“Oh god yes…especially considering the quality of the food you are getting – I reckon we will get 7 or 8 meals out of this plus leftovers”.
That was good enough for me.
For now, as they are just officially rolling out this new venture, their offerings are still limited. In the future I would hope to see a few more items added to the list, and I think it will encourage more people to try it out. (Like a Ribeye steak on the bone lads??).
When I asked a few of my food-lovin friends about this, and whether or not they might use this service, I got mostly positive responses.
What a cool site!! I really like it.. firstly for the range of local produce available. . I like the idea of being able to place my meat and fish order etc for the week and I would totally use it for this. I also like their fixed delivery charge of €5 which seems really reasonable considering we live in the sticks!! Layout of the site is snappy and easy to navigate and just had a really nice local/artisan feel to it. I’d definitely place an order and see how I get on.
Caroline, Galway city
That’s a very nice website. I’ll admit my first reaction to some pricing was that it seemed steep and then I realised I was comparing it to some supermarkets, and that this was actual fresh produce so it’s not that dear when you consider that. I thought the chocolate especially was very reasonably priced. Not that I’m a super chocoholic but that’d be the kind of chocolate I’d use in baking so good price there.
I’m not sure that I’d use it on a regular weekly or fortnightly basis but definitely one I’d consider for special occasion dinners or as a treat. It is great to be able to find local produce under the one umbrella. I will never be a vegetarian so knowing where to get some fresh local meat will always be welcome, because you want to support local farms but a person might not know where to look.
Just had a glance, yes I’d use Larder 360. Like the suppliers! eg, What’s For Pudding (save me hacking into town to buy ’em, had one for dessert this evening with the family!). I like idea of an artisan butcher too, and being able to buy “unusual cuts”. Could see myself using this once a month maybe #PaydayTreat
So what do you think? Is this something you might consider using? Have you already put them to the test and are you enjoying the food? (I know we are!). Let me know …
Now … and because the lads at Larder 360 are just so nice, we have a €50 euro gift voucher to give one of our lucky readers … all you have to do is answer the following question and a winner will be picked at random on Sunday May 1st 2016.
What is the name of the culinary award/designation Galway has recently won (for 2018)?
Answer in the comment section below and in order to be eligible to win, make sure you are a regular reader of WiseWords – sign up here and you must live in (or request the delivery of food to be in) County Galway. (So, if you are reading this and live abroad, but your family lives in Galway, it would make a lovely gift – wouldn’t it?).
Thanks for reading … sorry it’s been a while since my last ditty .. I am kept busy at work and writing away and have feck all time for my own musings these days … such is life .. we must work, to earn money to pay bills, if we want to play!
That’s all for now!
6 Abbeygate Street upper
Open: Monday – Sunday from 12 noon – 9pm
Having spent more than 15 yrs living and working in the US, it goes without saying that we all love Mexican food here at Chez Wise. So much so, that due to the lack of any decent Mexican food eateries in Galway over the last 8 years, we have just had our own little weekly fiesta at home. We have pined silently and patiently for someone to open up a Chipotle or heaven forbid, somewhere like The Comet in Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio, where we used to frequent quite a bit when we lived the other side of the pond.
Over the last couple of years, there have been a few interesting additions to the Mexican food offerings in our little city-by-the-sea, and I am here to tell you that Tuco’s Taqueria is leagues ahead of the others.
A couple of years ago, we caught wind of the fact that Boojum was coming to Galway – a chain with decent offerings and large portions. It had all the potential of becoming a favourite cheap n’ cheerful kinda place, but we all felt a little queasy every time ate there, so we ditched that plan!
For a few years, if we found ourselves in Dublin around lunchtime with little time to spare, we’d stop in to Tolteca. They frequently offer a two-for one deal and the kids and himself were kept happy. Then, joy oh joy, they opened a branch in Galway, over on Newcastle road near opposite the hospital and close to NUI Galway. It was good – but not as nice as the one in Dublin, but hey, better than nothing!
Then a few months ago, late in the autumn, we discovered Tuco’s Taqueria, hidden away on upper Abbeygate street, almost immediately opposite Lynch’s Castle cash machines, which incidentally you will need to get in line for as Tuco’s accepts cash only.
. With vibrant chalk board menus hanging on the wall, there are lots of options to choose from. They have six different salsas to tickle your tastebuds, ranging from Cremosa (mild) to Tuco’s Terror (very hot). Now, unlike the little flames on the menu at Papa Rich Asian Street Food Kitchen, where hot means hot, these salsa’s are not going hurt you too much,
The kitchen and service crew seem native, to Mexico that is, and I think this might be the kicker for Tuco’s and why their food tastes so gooood; way more authentic to the other two places.
Take for example, their Carnitas. Slow cooked (100%) Irish Pork ..it is mildly addictive. Actually, I might just go on record here and state that it is totally addictive, and I am addicted to it.
Their burritos, much like all burrito joints, are massive, so go with an appetite if you are putting this Galway gem on your list of places to try. But in saying that, the kids wolf ’em down everytime, loaded with Pinto beans, rice, guacamole (divine), salsa and either chicken, pork or beef.
The Taco’s ( 2 per order) are my favourite. You can get wheat or corn tortillas and different fillings in each.
As with all these eateries in Galway that we find and take time to tell you about, this one was quite well priced too. Lunch, or supper, for 4 pp with soft drinks or water, comes to under forty euros every time.
With a funky interior, and seating for 40 pp (upstairs and down), Tuco’s Taqueria is a very welcome addition to the cheap n’ cheerful side of dining in Galway.
Let me know if you have tried it? Oh, and they also use Deliveroo – so no excuse really. They can drop it to your door in 30 minutes!
That’s all for now guys n’ dolls …
next up .. Kebabs and embracing them whilst sober!
Asian Street Food Kitchen
3 Dalys Place,
091 450 147
Serving lunch and dinner 7-days a week from 12:30am – 10:30pm.
The fun is just beginning when it comes to the constantly evolving world of food in Galway and this new Asian restaurant, Papa Rich, might just be the tip of the iceberg.
We moved back to Galway mid-2008 after a 15 yr stint in the US and a year in Switzerland. When we landed, aside from it being an unusually wet summer, the choices we had when eating out in Galway waned on the edge of well-established tourist traps to a small handful of decent eateries.
It was always easier, cheaper and tastier to eat at home.
I’d venture to say that now, almost 8 years later, we are just spoiled for choice when it comes to picking our favourite restaurants, bars and cafes. There are even one or two hotels that offer decent grub – and that is practically unheard of!
First though, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ for the little effort that is being made to this section of town? I know Galway is not big enough to have a Chinatown, but if you swing around from Asiatic grocery store over near Sally Longs, all the way down to Papa Rich in Woodquay, you hit a plethora of Asian businesses. If only someone would open a Korean restaurant – we’d be all set!
So where to start with this little gem of a restaurant? Well, there is a story, of course, behind it. And it all starts with us struggling to find a decent Chinese Restaurant. We lucked out with Japanese Food because we have Kappa Ya and every time I want my Sushi fix Wa Cafe is the only place I’d go to … but a decent Chinese takeaway? Not easy at all to find. They all have gloopy corn-syrupy sauces and almost every dish tastes the same. Yeuch.
Needless to say, when we discovered the award winning Asian Tea House, we just stopped looking. To dine in, or carry out, it fits the bill every time. Well, at least it did. But then a few months ago, we noticed a dip in the taste and quality of the food and started to get a little disenchanted with it. So we tried out a new place on the docks, where Bar 8 used to be, called Neo. Also delicious and designed as a carry-out where you can dine in. In other words, everything comes in cute little takeaway boxes and you dump it into a bowl yourself if you decide to dine in.
All well and good, but then less than a few months later, we see the flashing ‘open’ lights of Papa Rich go up and could not wait to taste their wares – only to find out that co-owner and executive chef Kevin, worked previously at both the Asian Tea House and Neo.
Galway is so small guys and dolls. You can taste the difference when a good Chef moves around, and as long as you can keep following the ones you love, then you should have no problems!
A lot of work has gone into the renovations of this little eatery. Papa Rich is located in Woodquay, above Bar an Chaladh, where Lunares Tapas Restaurant used to be. If you are familiar with McSwiggans, just stand with your back to their main door and look to the left and up a little.
Traipsing up the stairs is enough to whet ones appetite as the smells from the kitchen lead the way into the very comfortably decorated dining room. To get the nitty gritty out of the way, the most expensive item on the menu is ten euros. Yes. €10. So, lets just say, for the leaner months of your wallet, this is a welcome relief to all of us!
With open arms, we are greeted and seated by Rebecca, co-owner with her chef husband Kevin. This gorgeous couple from Malaysia have taken the brave and crazy plunge into entrepreneurship after years of working in the industry for other people.
‘The time was right. We had lived in Limerick for about 15 years and just wanted to do our own thing. We knew Galway was the right choice for us, and once we started looking, we found this spot pretty quickly. It was meant to be” said Rebecca. “Right now, we are in the honeymoon phase and our daughter Ruby, 18 moths old, is spending a lot of time with her Nana (my Mum Rachel) in Limerick. Once things are running smoothly we are looking forward to a nice balance of work and family time!”
Papa Rich’s attentive staff honed in on the tweens immediately, helping answer their menu questions. Rebecca explained that everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen (by her husband Kevin) so it might take a little while longer than traditional Asian restaurants.
We had plenty of time so settled in to our comfortable seats and watched the Saturday lunch crowd fill the 40 ish seat restaurant.
Now, any restaurant that has a shiny large bottle of Sriracha sauce on the table is going to lure me in, but it also raised an eyebrow. Himself wondered if that meant we had to ‘add our own heat’ which we could say is the norm for a lot of the Asian restaurants here in the west, as many establishments have adapted the menu to suit the tastebuds of the Irish. Note to readers … we did not need it!
The menu has little red flames after each item, alerting the diners to the level of heat they should expect, and once you choose 5-flames (and eat the dish of course) your photo is added to their ‘wall of flame’.
Rebecca rambled off a few specials of the day but it was a unanimous decision – Calamari to liven up the tastebuds.
As you can see from the photo, there was barely time to take a photo. I often regret bring the kids with me, as they have no patience when it comes to waiting for anyone to take a photo!
The freshness of the Calamari, dredged in breadcrumbs and fried lightly, was sublime and the crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw drizzled with a light coconut and peanut dressing – also delicious.
There were a few referencers to ‘Grandma’ on the menu so we asked Rebecca what that was all about:
“Grandma’s curry, is inspired by Kevin’s grandmother. She is such a good cook. She cooks food and the taste will make memories as Kevin would say! A lot of our dishes are inspired by family recipes, Kevin’s mum, his grandmother, and my mum (Rachel) too, oh and also his grandpa’s recipe for the sauce on the BBQ RIBS, except Kev ads a bit of a sneaky twist to it!”
You gotta love a restaurant that involves the whole family. Rachel and Kevin live only a short hop from the city centre and her aunt and uncle live nearby too and offer extra support; This is truly a family-run restaurant!
Of the four main courses we ordered, each one was quite unique in the sense that all sauces and broths were very different and we all ‘had’ to share.
I am sure you are more interested in the crispy Chicken (above dish), which was gorgeous, but the real winner on the plate here was the onion slaw. We all love raw onions at Chez Wise, but this was unlike any slaw we had ever tasted before. It was a combo of green, white and red onions, with a nice coating (but not smothered) of home-made sweet chili sauce. Now, here’s the thing about sweet Chili sauce.
Its like Asian Ketchup – and I also hate ketchup. This had such a unique fresh taste, I was just delighted to scoff down the slaw. And, incase you are worried about the after effects of raw onion (on your breath or otherwise) fear not, there was enough vinegar to treat the onions, so the sharpness had dissipated and all that was left was sweet sweet crunchy yum! I will be asking for the onion slaw on the side next time I go back.
Himself had one of the Noodle Bowls, because this was something that is missing from other Asian restaurants in town. They either don’t serve them, or the broth sucks; Not so at Papa Rich.
Minced Pork and Prawn dumplings with Asian greens, Dan Dan noodles and a rich broth makes this the best €10 bowl of yum in town. Sweet mother is was spicy at only 2 flames – this was when we gave each other the happy nod of understanding. These guys are serving and selling their food according to how they think you should eat it. They are not quieting the flavour or flame and woo hoo … it was delicious right to the last fought-over drop!
Another dish, which was a huge hit with the kids, was this peanut sauce curry like dish. Battered Prawns, with mixed shredded veg, cherry tomatoes and pineapple all smothered in a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce. There was plate licking going on here lads; I was mortified.
I pine for a decent Pho. But again, nowhere in the city is serving a decent bowl of rich broth and noodles … until now that is. When I originally took a look at Papa Rich’s menu, my eyes just stopped right here on this dish and I knew it would be every bit as tasty as I needed it to be. It is not labeled as Pho. It is a Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl … but it’s Pho enough for me!
I chose to have Prawns with the Ho-Fun noodles and it came hopping out of the kitchen .. with Asian greens, mixed veg, plenty of coriander, lime leaf, basil, and mint in a gorgeous rich broth .. and some of their (need to buy some!) garlic chili paste. Oh sweet divine mother I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just bliss. Every bite. Every drop.
Food like this nourishes the heart and soul. Your eyes have feasted on pretty food, the service is attentive and not at all intrusive, and the water bottles were constantly kept full, just incase your choice of ‘flame’ was too brave.
And as if that was not enough, and there is no mention of it on their menu either, we were presented with a sampling of desserts. I, not having a sweet tooth, could not resist the homemade ice-cream with peanuts and oreo crumbs on top. More plate licking followed.
You do not need any excuses to go to Papa Rich for lunch – especially if you are working in town, at NUI Galway, or at the hospital. It’s a short walk in to Woodquay and the lunches are flying out of the kitchen – so tell your friends and co-workers! I can imagine if you were visiting a friend or family member, ill in hospital, that those broth soups would be a welcome relief from hospital food! Please take note, if I am ever in hospital, and you are coming to visit me, this is what I want!
As we were leaving, I noticed one of my work colleagues enjoying a delicious lunch with her hubby and was delighted that word has already gotten out about how excellent this new restaurant really is.
If I have not convinced you, why not check out the comments on Trip Advisor? I am going to put a review up there too … and I rarely do that!
That’s all for now guys and dolls … let me know if you try it out.
All I want this year, is a truly beautiful Galway Christmas.
Sadly, my children no longer believe in you; we never saw it coming.
One minute they were cute, small and believing, and the next thing we knew, they were lanky, long and thieving.
So this year I am requesting a few treats from a few of my favourite Galway shops making our Galway Christmas all the more special. Seeing as we are still planning on honouring the terms of our contract and plan on feeding yourself and the reindeers, I thought I might take advantage of you being none the wiser of the kids sudden state of awareness and ask for a few gorgeous Galway gifts – just for myself and himself this year, seeing as you do not have to blow the budget on the kids anymore! He does, after all, do all the feeding of you and your eight not-so-tiny reindeer.
So first things first … and in case you do not even know where to start … I am just gonna give you my Top Five or Seven Favourites … in no order of importance at all .. you decide Santa .. we have both been very nice (not naughty at all!) this year .. and to be frank, could use a little cheering up.
Let’s face it Santa. We, in Galway, have come a long long way in craft brewing over the last few years. Only last week I was blogging about the lads over at Galway Hooker Brewing because they have a new beer out that we love – so it’s simple. Please Santa – can we have some more? (Upcoming blog post later this week will be all about making a traditional Swiss Fondue using Beer – making it no longer a Swiss thang … totally giving it the Irish flavour it deserves!).
Yes – this one is for me. Or for any deserving lassies you know Santa. There is this gorgeous little shop at the bottom of town, on the Spanish Arch … called Cobwebs. Santa … it is a treasure trove of wearable history. Sure, they have gorgeous new shiny gems too, but it is the antique pieces that speak to me.
Ok – I know, I know. Nothing Irish (or Galwegian) about this one at all, right? Eh, no – wrong – dead wrong. See, Santa, there is a new bar and restaurant in town, where all the cool kids are hanging out, called Tribeton. And Santa … they have a massive selection of beautiful bourbons. So much so, that a gift certificate to Tribeton would be a total treat for the two of us Bourbon aficionados … t’would remind us our ole Kentucky home – well Cincinnati, Ohio but its on the border like.
Now, that is not to say that I would not be upset at all with a Gift certificate to our favourite, and in almost everyone’s opinion, the best restaurant in Galway.
Right. This one is kinda sorta for me, but I’m a-gonna be honest and tell you if you bestow a gift certificate upon me for this gorgeous shop, My Granny Likes it, I will most likely re-gift it immediately as I have been forbidden from ever going in there. Santa, they stock everything, and I mean everything from incredibly talented crafty and artsy Irish folk. My most sought after piece right now is a piece by Armagh artist Stephen Farnan .
My re-gifting efforts would not go to waste, as I would post lots of these cute colouring kits to my Irish friends and family, who are dotted all over the world and no doubt, missing the motherland at Christmas. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, but I am still sad that I can’t purchase these on line from this cute little shop – if you must pop in yourself, you will surely understand why I have been forbidden to go there.
Now Santa…..I know what you are going to say about this one. Yes. it is true, we do indeed have lots of our own butchered meat in the freezer for the winter. And when we do step outside of our own meat raring, it is to buy Pork (and this year Lamb) from our friends in Tipperary at OldFarm. But on occasion, himself and myself love nothing more than to sit down to a beautiful piece of crimson, marbled with intricate traceries of fat, grass fed beef.
Tormey’s Butcher Shop in the Galway Shopping Centre isthe only place we buy Organic Chickens, beautifully aged grass-fed Rib eye of Beef and (special order) Veal Chops. And before you go all crazy on me Santa, I am referring to the 35+ week old grass and milk fed Rose Veal, not raised in crates. In response to your concern though, some farmers have adopted more organic, free range operations for raising their calves. Crating is banned in a number of countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, and several states in the US. Sales of free-range veal have increased in recent years, which hopefully will prompt larger producers to change their farming methods.
Ok – I know I said I would only give you my Top Five … but I have worked up an unquenchable thirst while working on this list, so thought it best to add in a few of my favourite bottles of wine. We are promised a cold Winter here Santa in Galway. Nothing as cold as the North Pole like, but we are eagerly anticipating a few lovely long weeks of low lights and lazy days intertwined with blazing fires offering up a calmness @ChezWise like never seen before.
So first up for the wine fridge, how about a bottle of this flawless NZ Pinot Grigio? With it’s signature pale pink blush from the Pinot Grigio grape, we have been known to gift to our friends over the festive season .. and they too love it .. but then we are left with none for ourselves. .. and this makes me sad, Santa.
Another popular bottle of wine which you could happily bestow on us is this gorgeous oaky Sicilian red wine. The native Nero d’Avola grapes with the world travelled Cabernet, brings us a blissful blend.
Both of these wines, along with a massive amount more excellent wines, can be found at Cases Wine Warehouse along the Tuam road.
Last little mention goes to Solaris Teas. Santa, if nothing else, bring some home to Mrs. Claus for a well earned tea-break!
Right so Santa….. there you have it. A few nice treats for myself and himself … most of which will be shared with our friends and family because we don’t like to eat or drink alone … and because without our friends and family, life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it Santa?
We are gearing up for a lovely Irish Thanksgiving here with our friends and family in Galway this week. We hope, wherever you are in the world, you can take a minute out to offer up a little thanks for your health, your family and your friends.
That is all for now guys n’ dolls …. happy shopping!
It’s one of those days.
The weather, no, storm Abigail, has clenched her teeth on the West of Ireland and seems unwilling to release; even if we play nice.
I have received several requests from friends an family to met up for a cup of tea today, but I have insisted on doing nothing that requires me to get dressed. We declared today a pyjama day – and so it is.
Early this morning, I started Googling for some comfort food inspiration. Himself was in the throes of making a loaf of bread and we were undecided as to what our Sunday supper would consist of; neither of us felt like cooking.
Thankfully, himself had cooked a whole shank of veal yesterday, pot roast style, so that’s supper sorted then, but what about lunch?
Late last week, we had stopped in to visit our friends at Galway Hooker Brewery. They have another beer added to their repertoire, which we had yet to try.
The brewery was established in 2006, in Roscommon by two first cousins, Aidan Murphy (below) and Ronan Brennan. A couple of years ago, they decided to return the brewing operation back home to Galway, and they have been brewing and blossoming ever since.
This new (since earlier this year) India Pale Ale is excellent. Himself will probably never stray from their flagship beer (Galway Hooker Pale Ale) but I am always interested in finding a new beer, and I get especially excited when I find one that is homegrown.
The Galway Hooker India Pale Ale comes loaded with that hop filled flavour we love (and fun at 6.5% alcohol content!) and it was begging to be incorporated into our lunch plans. Hey, what else is a girl going to do on a dream wet wintry day in the west? Having a beer with lunch never sounds like a bad idea!
The soup is a bit tricky to make. Not in the sense that a novice cook can’t take it on as a challenge, just in the sense that it is easy burn it (as there is milk in it), and there is always the likelihood that the cheese will break and you will end up with lumpy soup. The key to your success, should you attempt to make this, is to keep the temp low on the stove when you add the cheese.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 60 g flour
- 950 ml chicken stock
- 1 bottle Galway Hooker India Pale Ale or any beer you like to drink
- 115 g cream cheese
- 450 g grated sharp cheese (we used Mossfield Organic hard cheese)
- 250 ml milk
- 1 teaspoon Colemans English mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and White Pepper to taste
- In a large pot sauté the onions, carrots, and celery and garlic in the butter. Put the lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and cook until soft.
- Stir in the flour, like you are making a roux and cook until thick and it browns just a little bit. Whisk in the chicken stock and simmer or a few minutes. Reduce heat leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for a half an hour, then using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables to produce a nice thick stock.
- Add the beer, followed by the cream cheese and handfuls of grated hard cheese of your choice, whisking all the time ensuring the cream cheese is smooth and the cheddar has melted. Do not let it come to a boil, as it will burn easily and boiling can cause the cheese to separate.
- Slowly pour in the milk, then add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, then bring the heat up just a touch to allow the soup to gently simmer. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve with a slice of toasted bread or your favourite crackers.
Now, I am not saying you should be drinking a beer on your lunch break tomorrow at work, but this is definitely one to tote with you to work in your Thermos.
Absolutely smooth and silky and the chicken stock keeps it light enough ensuring the texture is not gloopy when you get ready to serve it. I would refrain from using any kind of Mozzarella cheese, even if you just happen to have it in the fridge, as it is really annoying to end up eating a soup that just strings along on your spoon and won’t let go!
Right – tis almost supper time here at Chez Wise and time for someone to open a bottle of wine! I hope your weekend was nice and relaxing and you managed to squeeze in a bit of rest and relaxation before heading back to the grind tomorrow morning!
For five long years I have been receiving invites to attend Campo Viejo Wines #TapasTrail events in Dublin.
And then a few years ago, I started receiving invitations to attend Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail events in Cork.
Sounds a little like always the bridesmaid and never the bride for poor little Galway, doesn’t it?
Good news wine peeps! The folks at Campo Viejo Wines have finally seen the light and have given Galway a trial run with their #TapasTrail!
So, how was it then?
The whole idea of a #TapasTrail with Campo Viejo Wines, is that you pop along to four different locations in the city, guided by one of the expertly trained Campo Viejo guides. Ours did not pretend to know a ton about the wines, but by golly he was well versed in the history of Galway.
The way it works, is pretty simple. For €30 (tickets can be bought here) you get to enjoy four glasses of wine, in four different restaurants, all offering up a selection of interesting Tapas, paired with the wine.
We started our afternoon of fun meeting some old and new friends at The House Hotel. Although welcomed with a glass of the Campo Viejo Cava, Brut Reserve, we were introduced to the Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2010, as our wine of the evening.
Eh, what now? Ok, maybe I did not read the fine print on the aul invite. I thought it was four different wines in four different locations … but, eh, no. It was the same wine served in all four restaurants.
So………. that little snafu aside, everything went rather well to be honest.
We started with a gorgeous dish from The House Hotel which consisted of a perfectly balanced and chilled Gazpacho, grilled Prawns drizzled in a garlicky pesto oil, and a deep fried Pork Croquette in a finger licking mayonnaise.
Although we were allowed three hours to accomplish our tour and tastings on the #TapasTrail, we were hurried along to the next location, Cava Bodega, only to be halted along the street to be given a little history lesson.
Now, as the lion’s share of the group were from Galway, we all thought this was rather cheeky of yer man from ‘Kerry via Dublin’ to be giving us a history lesson on our own home town … but, wouldn’t you know, he knocked it out of the park.
Hats off to Campo Viejo Wines for this one – they clearly recruit avid historians with a love for all things history, food and wine!
Moving on, our stay in Cava Bodega was all too brief. The food came flying out of the kitchen, and the wine was pre-poured and ready to drink when we were seated in the main upper room of the restaurant.
The pinchos, made with slow cooked pork belly were devine melt in your mouth little bites of heaven, but the bread was a bit stale so there was les of the melting; the Patatas Bravas – sorry but I can’t get excited about a fried potato with mayonnaise … and then … there was another dish with chick peas and black pudding … the chick peas were great and would have been excellent served alone …. but with the black pudding? No thanks. Unless it is fried and crispy I am not interested, and this black pudding just ended up being a soggy mess served in a bowl with tasty chickpeas…
Moving on, we were walked, the long way around through the city, over to Sheridans Cheesemongers who have a quaint little wine bar above the cheese shop. Seamus Sheridan popped in to give us a little talk about Food Provenance, and had the crowd in stitches with his stories. You can always depend on Seamus for the entertainment.
The food, a selection of excellent cheeses, and a (sparse) sampling of Spanish Serrano Ham and Chorizo, all served with (stale) bread.
I know that is the second reference I have made to stale bread .. but hey, I am married to a baker, and he was my date for the afternoon .. it’s one of those silly little things that lets you down … most decent breads freeze really well, then a few minutes in the oven, right out of the freezer, can give you a fresh loaf of bread in a jiffy – there is little or no excuse for stale bread folks.
As we moved on, our wine guide explained that the concept of pouring the same wine and each of the locations was to show us how versatile the wine really is, and that it can indeed be paired with just about any type of food.
As we were headed to the Kitchen Café at the Museum, I had already had enough of the red wine and was dying for a cup of tea .. no joke.
But, that was not part of the plan, so more red wine was had. Hey man, when in Rome, right?
Michelle Crehan, a GMIT Culinary Arts graduate, had lined up a beautiful Limoncello Cake and Chocolate Truffles to be paired with the wine. This went down very well with the group and I even overheard a few people ask for more!
So to wrap things up, let me tell you what I really think about the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway.
I think it was a lot of fun. I think, for €30, I would have preferred to try at least three if not four different varieties of their wines. I also think, if on a first date this is a great idea, or could be a lot of fun if you wanted to entertain your employees for an evening.
If you are in the mood to get drunk or explore new wines, this ain’t for you, because 1. They pour small amounts, which I was happy to see, and 2. You would only be exploring one wine.
There are still two evenings of the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway left to go (Wed. Sept. 2nd … 6pm and Wed. Sept. 9th…6pm).
If you want to buy tickets .. click here.
On a side note, the best dish of the evening goes to The House Hotel – hands down an winner. I have never had a good reason to write about the food at this location, or the drinks for that matter, and I even recall once when one of their bartenders did not now how to make a Negroni or a Dirty Dirty (Gin) Martini so I lost interest. AND, like many hotels, it suffers from common symptoms of ‘tastes like hotel food’ disease. Himself and myself have taken note of the deliciousness we tasted tonight and will report back in a month or two after we sample it again a few times.
That’s all for now folks … everyone is back to school and work this week – so the traffic is gonna be mental – remember – stay calm … this too shall pass!
Campo Viejo Wines did cover the cost of our afternoon soiree swilling wines and eating Tapas in Galway this afternoon. They did not ask for a damn thing in return. I decided to blog about this one because I am always sceptical about these tours and trails – they just sound a bit gimmicky and like they might be a tourist trap … this one was great fun and we had might craic with new and old friends.
I know, I know, I know …
Almost two years ago we gave up watching TV and now have rid the house of all sugary cereals … and we are sharing a recipe for, eh, Granola??? Yes – and it is the BEST GRANOLA – ever!
Next thing you know we will be going Gluten Free or develop an intolerance to red wine…….ha ha ha – you know that will never happen in this house!
I can totally take the credit for this one. It all started this past Easter.
Ron came home from work one day over Easter break and the kids were hassling him for yet another Easter egg. They had received a boat load from friends and family and you know how kids are, they will not stop until it is all gone.
So, in one fell swoop, he opened the lid of the trash can and popped the entire amount of leftover Easter eggs and all other crap – in the bin.
The kids did not speak to us for a week. They were so mad.
We had both just had enough to be honest. We kinda made the decision there and then that if anyone else, friends, family or foe wanted to feed them crap, in their homes, it was totally fine with us, but no more at Chez Wise.
Of course, in order to make this work, he had to cut a deal with them. From then on, the only treats they were allowed to eat at home were ones they made themselves or something their father made/baked for them.
Since then, they have bled me dry buying ingredients for ice cream, cookies and cakes. They can all bake at least one recipe each and will master the ice-cream maker by this time next year.
Once school got out for the summer, and me with a few months of leisure time staring me in the face, I decided to take it one step further with the elimination of crappy cereals from their diets.
Now, I was never one for buying that much crap. They love Oatmeal and Weetabix, but there was still plenty of Shreddies and other sugary filled boxes of pure shite making its way into the shopping trolley every week. The only thing they never ate was ‘Mom’s granola’
So, I told them, for the summer, the only cereal we would have in the house was ‘mom’s granola’.
Now, as we prepare for them to go back to school, this week on Thursday, they have just finished helping me make ‘our granola’ and wouldn’t you know it … they love it.
I hope you do too!
- 140 g / 5oz Jumbo Oat Flakes
- 100 g / 3.5oz Rye Flakes
- 100 g / 3.5oz Barley Flakes
- 100 g / 3.5oz Sesame Seeds
- 300 g / 10oz Mixed Nuts (chopped roughly: Macadamia, Brazil, Pistachio, Almonds, Walnuts)
- 100 g / 3.5oz Shaved Coconut
- 40 g / 1.5oz Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 60 ml / 2oz Honey
- 60 ml /2oz Agave or Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 100 g/ 3.5oz dried fruit, chopped: Apricots, dates, sour cherries
- 2 egg whites, beaten until light and fluffy
- Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and heat the oven to 150c / 300F.
- Put the coconut oil and salt and honey/syrup in a small pan and allow to melt on a medium heat. Take off the heat an set aside for a minute.
- Mix all the dry ingredients, except for the fruit, in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour in the honey/oil mixture and mix ensuring it is well distributed.
- Beat the egg whites until they are nice and fluffy then add into the granola mixture.
- Spread it out on the baking sheet and bale for 1 hour, mixing and string it every fifteen minutes.
- If it looks like it is turning a darker shade of brown quicker than you want, then your oven is too hot. Turn it down. The key to granola turning out perfect, is the egg whites for extra crunch and the low, slow heat.
- BE PATIENT.
- Leave to cool on the baking tracy for an hour or more.
- Add in chopped dried fruit when the granolas has cooled.
- Store in an airtight container.
We like to make this recipe in large quantities (just multiply by 4) and then I mix it with a box of Kelkin Buckwheat cereal flakes. This gives me about four or five large Ziplock freezer bags full which usually lasts about a month.
The kids are not allowed bring nuts to school, due to allergies etc. so I’ll be making sure they have a nice bowl of this at least a coupe of mornings a week with a banana chopped into it and a nice dollop of natural yoghurt on top.
Soon happy they are going back to school this week!
Let me know if you have a favourite recipe for Granola? Are you ready to throw out the sugary cereals?
Thats it for now … ’tis long past my bedtime.
Ah Cookies Cookies Cookies …. or biscuits depending on where you are from, right?
We have had a fantastic summer despite the fact that the weather has not been great. The kids and their cousins had a nice long run of things in July, and they are welcoming the ‘back to school’ chatter we have started around the house.
Last week, I met up with one of my friends, who is getting ready to send her eldest off to college. She was racing around buying him everything he might need during the day and forcing herself to teach him a few cooking tips and tricks, which he had zero interest in, every evening. She figured, that if she spent the month of August doing that, he might be able to survive without her. As we chatted, and nibbled on a batch of cookies I had just baked, she lamented the fact that she had not taught him enough skills in the kitchen. I sent her home with a recipe for the cookies.
No matter how hard we try to prepare kids for moving out of the house and living on their own, even if co-habbing with other students, two things are going to happen.
1. They will survive and not die of starvation because most colleges/universities have canteens, and
2. They will still bring home their dirty laundry and clean out your cupboards when they come home.
One thing is for certain, if you are adept at all at making something they really LOVE, then you can be guaranteed they will always come home for their favourite dinner, or dessert.
I was thinking about our kids, and how we have at least 7 years before any of them are ready to head off to college, but I am still certain this is one of the treats I will be packing in their bags when they do go.
If you are releasing a teen into the wild this September, then make up a few batches of this recipe and freeze them. Pack them with clear instructions for your teen then they can impress all their new friends when they whip up a batch of freshly baked cookies on their first weekend away from home.
This is not the time to shed a tear … rejoice in your new found freedom!
- 8 oz / 225 g butter
- 7 oz / 200 g caster sugar
- 7 oz / 200 g soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 7.5 oz / 215 g Einkorn or Khorasan Flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 8 oz / 225 g cranberries (or mixed berries/raisins)
- 8 oz / 225 g mixed nuts
- 10 oz / 285 g rolled oats/rye/barley
- Preheat the oven to 175C
- Cream the butter with the sugars, and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
- Now mix in the dried fruit and oats.
- Place balls the size of a large walnut onto a greased, non-stick baking tray (remember to allow room for them to spread, so about 9 cookies per baking tray) and cook for about 15 minutes or until verly lightly browned.
- Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Do not handle while they are hot, or they will crumble.
This recipe is the best for chewy Cranberry Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – so if you prefer crunchy cookies, let them cook a little longer at a lower temp. I like to make a double batch every time and I roll and freeze the extra cookie dough in clingfilm and keep it in the freezer for ’emergencies’. Whip it out, leave to thaw for ten minutes, slice and bake. Your friends will be very impressed. You will be very smug and have that ‘oh, it was nothing’ look about you. Well done.
Now – moving on to the exciting bit of news for those of you who suffer from Coeliacs disease or are Gluten intolerant.
Both are ancient (wheat) grains, and in contrast with more modern forms of wheat, evidence suggests the gliadin protein of Einkorn may not be as toxic to sufferers of coeliacs disease. It has yet to be recommended in any of the GF diets, but I have a feeling this could happen in the next 12 months. I will not lie to you – we are asking a few GF/Gluten intolerant/Coeliac family members and friends to be our guinea pigs and I will let you know the outcome, but so far so good!
In the meantime, just ask your local Evergreen.ie (in Ireland) or Jovial Foods (in USA) store to order the flour for you. They retail at €5.50 per 1kg bag (ouch) but are so much richer in flavour and texture. You will gladly overlook the price as you smell your cookies baking away in the oven.
Letting go of the kids is, apparently, a hard thing to do. Right now we are in the throes of teenage hell with our two eldest girls and in my mind, sending them off to college would be bliss … and by the time that does happen, I reckon they will be making their own cookies and heck, they are already doing their own laundry so things can only get better, right?
How is your summer going?
You know how it is …. summer holidays kick into high gear at the end of June and before you know it, it is the middle of July and you haven’t stopped for a second to just…………… breathe.
The kids are on high doe as all ‘the cousins’ are here for the next three weeks. To say they are having fun is an understatement. They are all still of the age where so they are happy enough hanging out with their parents and the trampoline has never seen so much action!
They are all getting bigger and bolder and our eldest starts secondary school in September. I’ll tell you, as cliché as it sounds … where does the bloody time go?
Right now, they are signed up for a month of Tennis lessons. It was so much fun watching them all battle it out on the court today – cousins against the ‘home’ team. They are ferocious competitors but still very much into having FUN while they learn. I can tell, as Friday approaches, their Tennis coach is really looking forward to his two days off!
Despite a bit of rain here and there, the weather has stayed dry enough for them to play and wet enough to force everyone to take a bit of time out to catch up on summer reading and relax.
Last week, we had a lovely 4th of July celebration with one of our friends, and also former employee, visiting from USA. We try to always have Americans in the house for July 4th and for Thanksgiving – which falls on November 26th this year – so if you fancy popping over for a visit, start planning now!
We have been spending A LOT of time over at the new park on the Westside of the city. This is one of the best facilities we have on our doorsteps with a running track, a rollerblade path, a fenced in skateboard area, a gated tiny tots playground, a zip line cable, and swings and monkey bars too.
The hill leading to the climbing apparatuses is covered in a blanket of wildflowers right now and I’m sure there have been many vases of Poppy’s perched on plenty of peoples windowsills these past few weeks.
Another excellent feature of this park is the weight training machines dotted all along one side of the rollerblade path. I have seen so many people using these machines over the last few months.
Although we no longer have toddlers, the Tiny Tots playground is well designed too and I have met a host of Mum’s at this park who love the freedom it gives them and their kids to just ‘play’.
Back at Chez Wise we have ‘cut the crap’ right out of the family diet. About a month ago we decided to just throw any crap sweet treats in the bin and told the kids if we made it/baked it, they could have it, otherwise there would be no treats. This has had an excellent result, with the kids baking more each week and learning how to make their own cordials to mix with sparkling water.
And finally …. because you might be headed West for a little getaway – there is a few new places in town open for business. The first one, is a cute little French restaurant called Le Petit Pois.
Run by a husband/wife team from Brittany, France, they just opened last week. The 40 seat restaurant is beautifully designed and decorated and I hope they have a very busy summer! Their wine list, and extensive wine knowledge, is well worth the visit for the oenophiles out there.
Another FUN place to put on your list is the new bar at the top of Eyre Square called McGettigans. Yes, I know it sounds very twee…. it is a massive global company with several bars dotted all over the world, and their sign out front is not all that inviting either, but this place is decorated quite nicely.
Plush booths flank the walls downstairs and they offer decent prices on beer and they have the kind of menu that caters to large groups. I was in there just a few days ago and had a gorgeous bowl of chowder n’ ciabatta for €6.50 and tip top service was offered when I visited; I can’t wait to go back for more!
Ok – that is it for now … I just wanted to check in with y’all to see how your summer is going.
I will be laying low for the next few weeks as my siblings are home for a few weeks, and we are enjoying a bit of family time before my brother’s wedding in a few days.
There is much drinking and dancing to be done!
I hope you are having a fabulous summer wherever you are.
There are quite a few Polish shops in Galway. I have popped in and out of most of them, doing the odd price check on a few items but am always that little bit hesitant to go wild and buy lots of stuff, because let’s face it, my Polish sucks.
Several months ago, a friend of ours brought us a box full of Polish Doughnuts to give our kids a sugar high they have still not come down from. She had stopped in to a tiny little Polish bakery called The Little Teapot in the Liosbán shopping centre. (Take first RIGHT after the Ulster Bank).
So a few weeks later, the Chef, always interested in checking out the competition, popped in to see what they had on offer and he was quite impressed himself. These doughnuts, are a far cry from the Krispy Kremes you might be pining for. As a matter of fact, they aren’t really anything like the traditional sugar-sprinkled doughnuts-with-a-hole you might already love.
They are pillows of jam (or custard) filled goodness, best eaten fresh from the fryer. This little bakery is worth a visit.
They have a few tables and chairs, so you can have a cuppa coffee when you go. They have a host of other baked goods on offer too and everything is priced quite affordably.
Now, seeings as you are in the neighbourhood, right out in front, just a few doors down from the Ulster Bank along the main Tuam road (N-17), you will see a sign for what looks to be just another pizza place in Galway.
Be adventurous and pop in for lunch or supper sometime. Now, when you walk in the door, you will notice a decent amount of tables and way back in the back, the first thing you are going to spy is the massive Pizza oven and a guy tossing the dough around. Ok – so their pizza is pretty excellent.
Not quite as good as our favourite Pizza place, or our second favourite pizza place, but definitely worth your time and money. We like to get the large pizza (20″) as they make 3-pizzas-in-one for us and this suits all the tastebuds in our family. Be warned, the Diablo is hot-n-spicy – for real.
BUT the real reason to stop in here for a bite to eat, is the cafeteria style food they are serving in the back. Yes – the harsh glow of the yellow food lamps do not do it justice so I’m a gonna let my words do the work here.
The soup, never the dull-n-dreary ‘veg soup’ we still see in so many Irish eateries, changes on a regular basis but their light creamy broth loaded with al-dente broccoli is just a damn fine soup.
There are a few different sauces lined up to go along with whatever meat you choose as your staple. The choices range from breaded and fried Pork Chops (yes they are excellent), chicken breast pounded thin and smothered in sumptuous mozzarella, and a few other chicken and pork offerings.
Cabbage is a big staple in the Polish diet, but not as we know it. This place, puts on a display of five (possibly more) types of slaw and salads for the taking, and a couple of beetroot salads too. Because they are in Ireland, they are smart enough to keep spuds on the menu, offering mashed and roasties … which were just ok – nothing at all to write home about, but the sauces and gravies they offered alongside were good enough to make up for this. As an example, lunch for two adults, including a glass of their homemade mixed fruit (quite tart) juice offering was just under €20. You can’t beat it with a stick.
Now, I am sure you are wondering, why on earth am I blogging about a middle-of-the-road cafeteria-style restaurant located in the middle of a busy little industrial estate. There is nothing sexy about this right?
Wrong. Since I moved home to Galway (in 2008) the food scene has blossomed and bloomed in the loveliest of ways. Restaurants and cafés have popped up and a few local and very talented chefs are interested in banding together to promote our city as the food capital of Ireland.
But a few high-end restaurants and over-sharing chefs, does not a strong city food-scene build. John McKenna was chatting with Keith Finnegan on the radio a few weeks back and he said that the reason Galway’s food scene was thriving, was because we had a lot of middle-of-the-road restaurants.
None of us eat dine at the fancy places once a week. When we go out to eat, with our without the brats, we want honest-to-goodness sustenance at a price that will not break the bank and the assurance we don’t have to do the dishes.
Sure, we want local, and more importantly want to see the restaurants support local farmers, but the reality is, middle of the road restaurants are here to stay and most of us love ’em.
Now, to wrap up my little spiel on the Polish goodness on offer in our little city-by-the-sea, gather up your shoppings bags and head to one of the more recently opened Polo Stores. They are loads of them in Dublin, and according to one of the lassies who works with Ron at Morton’s of Galway, this is one of the best Polish Grocery shops in town.
Polo Stores Galway
Unit 4, Tower House,
Tuam Road. Galway.
(091) 441 – 044
Now, I know … the packaging and labels are all in Polish, but trust me, that should not stop you from popping in for a look. There are a few things in this shop you need to buy.
Ron asked his co-worker (Marta) to meet us at the Polo Store last week and she gave us a translated tour of the shop. She.was.brilliant.
Right inside the door, the first thing she picked up was a packet of spice powder for a quick (3-day) pickle. Just add water and cucumber.
Right beside that, was a packet of dehydrated beetroot. I have ground this with my mortar and pestle and added it to mayonnaise and yoghurt. Oh-em-gee……delicious and, eh, pink!
Moving right along the aisles, the question begged ‘why are there over 20 different jars of pickles?’ Well, apparently, aside from a few that have chilis in the jar for a bit of extra heat, the only real difference is the brand label. Just made by a different company – nothing to be afraid of.
Marta’s advice was simple – if in doubt, look at the picture on the packet. For the most part, it tells you what the product is. My personal experience, in all the Polish shops in town, is to just ask for help. Clearly, and if you are a woman you will understand, this is the easiest thing to do. If you are a man however, it is kind of like asking for directions – and you might end up spreading shoe polish on your toast.
Speaking of toast ………
Sweet jeebus …. this little tub of mushroom paste … on toast, or a cracker, or added into a soup that needs flavour. Definitely a great addition to a sandwich too.
Admittedly, we already have bag of chicken hearts in the freezer, but where else would you find this in Galway?
The frozen plums are perfect for your morning smoothie if that’s the kind of way you roll, but we love to roast ’em with honey and set them atop a bit of ice-cream.
The green label on the fresh soft cheese packets is low fat and the red is full fat.
Both packets are just excellent in flavour and price, and while you are in the refrigerated section look for little packets of fresh yeast (less than €1 per pack) and their Pork lard is pretty excellent quality too. It’s the makes you want to make a bit of pastry right away kinda-lard.
Ok – so this is the most I can offer on a rainy Sunday morning from Galway this bank holiday weekend. The main thing is to get in there and try something new.
We are headed over to the Claregalway Sunday Market to peruse the goodies on offer this week!
Thanks for stopping in for a read.
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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