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!
You truly do inspire me Máirín. Thank you for being such a rock xx
Much grá … love Móna
Earlier this year, I took a morning off college and hopped on the train to go watch Máirín in action as she and her team began shooting the food shots for ‘Celebrating Irish Salmon‘, Máirín’s 5th book.
Her publishers (Vincent Murphy and Mary Ruddy from Artisan House) were kind enough to let me take a few photos – they were working with food stylist extraordinaire Tricia Doyle and award winning photographer Walter Pfeiffer.
They, as a team, have produced the most beautiful book which is truly a celebration of Irish Salmon, the most noble of fish.
I can only hope by the time I reach my seventies that I have accomplished half of the achievements Máirín has.
Artisan House has given us a copy of the book to giveaway to one of our lucky readers here on the blog. Leave me a comment down below if you would like your name to be entered into the hat. Happy to ship it worldwide!
The world is your Oyster and Galway is its home
An oyster connoisseur for many years, I have plenty of reasons to hold a special grá for the native Galway oyster; the most important being that it is growing in my own back yard. Oyster culture is one of the most environmentally friendly types of farming I have ever encountered. Needing neither food nor medication and touting a low (and sometimes negative) carbon footprint, these natural element feeders get everything they need from the unpolluted Irish waters.
The fisher man’s task is to manage the density of the stock (by periodically sorting and grading) and help influence the shell shape. These flashy fish can filter more than eleven liters of water per hour. They live for eighteen months to three years on a steady diet of phytoplankton and salty water. Once cracked open and the fleshy meat is bared, it is the essence of the ocean that you taste.
And taste we did. The folks from Hotel Meyrick phoned me a few days ago to tell me Kelly’s Oysters had a few natives, first of the season, left wating for us. I could not find the keys of the car fast enough to pick up this delicious package.
The native Galway Oyster, frequently sought after by the Queen of England, are a flatter and smaller oyster than the ones you find in the local seafood markets (Giggas) and have been going through a bit of a rough patch over the last few years.
During the nineteen thirties and forties, their were more than two hundred boats out dredging annually. In the eighties, with new bi-laws, the number of boats was reduced to one hundred. In the mid-nineties there was severe flooding in the area and when the flood waters were drained though the oyster beds. This wiped out the entire native oyster population.
Many of the local families would have drawn a significant source of their annual income from dredging the waters during the months of October through December. The hardship felt at Christmas was profound.
Known for the clouds around these parts, one has to always hope that each of them might offer a silver lining. In this case, the clouds have parted, and a glimmer of hope is streaming through. The Galway oysters are finally making a comeback. Dredging over the last few years has shown a small but steady growth in quantities of native oysters harvested and the local fishermen are ever hopeful that the industry will recover.
(these are last years tickets … rest assured I will send you this years ones if you win!)
The 59th Galway Oyster festival runs from September 26th – 29th 2013 this year and the selection and quality of oysters brings connoisseurs from around the globe, many of them traveling with their own Oyster knives. If you have already seen a few of the adds floating around town in the local papers or on Facebook and wondered ‘ should I go to the Oyster festival this year’ then I think it is high time you put your money where you mouth is and join in the festivities. OR – you can leave me a comment right here and tell me whether you would like attend the festivities on opening night (Friday 27th September at 7pm) or the more family friendly event – the Sunday ‘Feast-off’ cooking competition! We got tickets up for grabs! As usual, you must be a loyal reader of our blog – you can subscribe (for free) right here.
If you like your oysters fresh and raw from the sea then I suggest you keep it simple and either serve them up with a few slices of lemon and a drop of tabasco sauce or you can whip up one of my favourite vinaigrettes (Mignonette) to enhance the essence of the oyster!
4 teaspoons Aspall cider vinegar
3 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (coarse)
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons parsley (chopped finely)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over oysters before eating.
If you are entertaining and want to impress your dinner guests then you need to try the fried oysters. They work great as an appetiser to pass around for nibbles and also excellent as a lunch time snack. Warning. They are addictive.
Spicy Fried Oysters
1 dozen oysters
120 ml/1/2 cup Franks red hot sauce (found at Centra near Galway Airport or Musgraves)
360 g/3 cups of plain flour
Remove oysters from their shell and soak them in the hot sauce for at least one hour.
Dredge oysters in flour and leave to air-dry on a wire rack for at least a 1/2 hour. This allows the flour to dry off and will produce a crispier coating.
Deep fry the oysters for three minutes and serve immediately with Wise Cocktail Sauce.
Wise Cocktail sauce
240 ml /1 cup mayonnaise
180 ml/3/4 cup BBQ sauce
30 g/1/4 cup horseradish
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons parsley (chopped finely)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
We find that Oysters are best served with Guinness (duh) but on occasion they go exceptionally well with a gorgeous bottle of white wine like Johann Strauss, Kremstal, Gruner Veltliner, (2009) available at Cases Wine Warehouse for €15.99.
Thanks for reading along and looking forward to seeing a lot of you at the Galway Oyster Festival this year!
and the winner is!!
Summer is hectic isn’t it?
I mean this year in particular, because we are blessed with all this sunshine, so it’s off to the beach with a picnic at the drop of a hat.
We are secretly afraid it might take another 25 years for summer to come back to our island; We are soaking it all up (with factor 50 +++ of course).
Before I delve too deeply into what is on my mind I need to ask you for a huge favour.
Can you please have a look at this project and pledge towards it? It will cost you nothing if the project does not get off the ground, but if it does, I can promise you a hugely entertaining read because this lady knows how to engage an audience with her words.
I would not ask, normally, but this lassie is so much braver than I. She is one of those risk takers. The kind that believes in a project and makes it happen. The kind of woman I don’t have the balls to be half the time. I need hers to work out so I can be braver. Go on. Please. For me.
Now. Down to the crux of the matter.
We are kid-central here at the moment. My brother has dropped off his off-spring for three weeks. The rules are lax and the lovin is easy.
At the market this morning I caught the two wee fellas (my young fella – Jack age 8 – and my nephew – Raemonn age (almost) 6) holding hands whilst waiting for hot doughnuts.
Then it dawned on me. They have grown up so bloody fast – and are now looking out for each other.
This time next year, there will be no need for hand holding.
They got their doughnuts, shared the napkins and meandered through the market.
They did not ask or beg for anything. No one needed to go to the toilet. They all waited patiently while we chatted with our friends …
We had to stop along the way to pick up something for supper…
But due to sharp knives and slick fishmongers that only took 36 seconds of slicing and slivering.
And when we told them all it was time to head back to the van to go home to make lunch …
Like little ducks – they lined up and headed back to the van. No one grumbled. They were content.
And that’s when it hit me ….
We are all done with the babies and toddlers.
That phase – that we seem to have been smothered in for ten years now … has finally passed.
Life is zooming by at breakneck speed.
I hope you are making time to stop and smell the roses. I know I am.
On a side note, and because I can’t be seen to rest on my laurels too much ya know … I am über excited about a project we are working on with the folks over at Galway.com
I stumbled across their site last summer and remember saying to one of my friends ‘when I grow up I want to work for these guys’.
Imagine my SQUEAL of delight when they emailed me a few weeks ago, right after I finished my exams, (coincidence? I think it was fate!) and asked if I could do a bit of work for them.
Almost not able to sleep at night here with the excitement on this one so stay tuned – in the meantime have a mooch around on their YouTube channel.
Ciao for now guys n’ dolls. We are entering into Race Week here in Galway so if you are headed West to the City of the Tribes be sure to hit us up for a cup of coffee/tea or a pint!
Morans on the Weir
(091) 796 113
Ok. Stop everything that you are doing right now and get your butts to Moran’s on the Weir if you have never been.
That is all.
Alright … I might manage to eek out a few more words then. How many restaurants have several tables reserved by 11:30am on a bank holiday Monday? Anthony Bourdain taught us something to live by a few years ago, when he penned one of our favourite foodoirs Kitchen Confidential, where he advises customers to never order fish at a restaurant on a Monday because it won’t be fresh.
I have broken that rule only once; It was on a Monday a few months back. I regret my decision greatly and have sworn never to sway again. Unless of course I am eating at Morans on the Weir, where the fish are always fresh … hell, sometimes even still alive!
We have eaten here countless times, and more frequently in the last few months due to a massive surge of friends coming to visit us from abroad. This is one of our favourite places to hide-out, away from the hustle and bustle of Galway city. Morans on the Weir is very much a step back in time, and I for one hope it stays planted firmly right where it is.
If it ain’t broke … don’t fix it.
Dating back more than 300 years, Moran’s of the Weir is now run by Catherine Moran – the 7th generation of the Moran family to get stuck in and manage this iconic restaurant-by-the-sea.
Her brother Michael, holds the crown for both the International and World Oyster Opening Championships, taking the phrase fastest gun in the west to a whole new level. His father has held both of these titles too. In addition to being talented and this place exceeding all our (high) expectations when it comes to the customer service and food offered – this is one of the hardest working hands-on family in the restaurant business in Ireland today.
I want them to get an award for this alone!
Bold splashes of colour painted on doors, windows, walls and stairs greet you as you meander through all the nooks and crannies in the restaurant. Guinness pours perfectly – as it should – and it is the best place to hide out alone, just the two of you, or reserve a massive table for you and your friends, in the back room, and stay all night.
You might arrive hungry, but after dining on their exquisite (mostly) fish menu, you will be well sated when you leave.
You will be spoiled for choice with the menu options they offer and will not be able to choose one over the other. We have eaten ALL THEIR menu options. You can’t go wrong. Bring friends and share all the platters.
But make sure you do go … and especially try to get there during the summer months when you can sit outside on their benches right on the Weir. Or traipse over there early in September when the native Galway Oysters are plump and perfect. I have yet to meet a person who’s face does not light up when I ask them if they have ever eaten at Moran’s of the Weir.
Hell, even Seamus Heaney penned a poem about eating oysters at Morans and it is (handwritten) hanging on their wall!
Here’s the first (of five) stanza from the poem :
by Seamus Heaney
Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.
If you can wrangle a few more lines from this poem and leave it in the comments section below you will be entered into a drawing to win one of two €50 gift certificates we have to offer our readers, to enjoy a bit of grub at Moran’s on the Weir. Remember, as with ALL giveaways on our blog, you must be a bona-fide regular reader-commenter of the blog and be signed up to receive our updates via email right here.
The lucky winner will be chosen at random on Thursday July 4th in the evening.
If you win, PLEASE invite me to join you for dinner!
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
AND (finally) the winners ARE :
Ladies – please contact me with your home postal address so I can pop these in the post to you.
Thanks and congrats to you!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prawns in a spicy tomato sauce … there is a secret ingredient in this one; you MUST try it.
A bit of whimsy on the wall …
Window seats and soft cushions inviting us to linger longer at the table ….
A bit of kitsch to remind us not to take everything so seriously and just kick back and have a bit of fun ..
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.
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,
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.
HELLO – – just catching up on all our Sunday Times column recipes from the last few weeks so you will see a few more posts this week. Sorry for loading up your inboxes … you can always go back later and click on The Sunday Times tab for the stories and recipes and thanks for all the feedback! Keep it coming please.
So … and because we are almost done with summer here in Galway, these Fish Brochettes might have to wait for an Indian summer weekend or even early next spring. The recipes for the black bean paste and house dressing though are to be used year round so have a quick look and remember they will always be right here under The Sunday Times tab on the blog if you need a bit of encouraging.
This is the longer and unedited version of our weekly contribution to The Sunday Times (August 26th 2012).
Thanks for reading,
Hello fellow food lovers,
Recipes below for a few excellent dishes. The Paella is hands down one of my favourite dishes. I can’t wait for the next bite! The secret is in the rice believe it or not, so give it a whirl!
This is the longer and unedited version of our weekly column in The Sunday Times (August 12th 2012)
Hope all is well,
Maybe I have writers block ….
Because everytime I sit down to write … one of my four munchkins comes in and BLOCKS me from what I am trying to do.
(The HSE does not allow us to put photos of our two foster kids on the blog which is why you only ever see two kids. The other two are gorgeous, happy, health, smiley girls. Picture it, ok?)
Someone around here is ALWAYS within one minute of ‘dying of the hunger’ so we try our best to keep a lot of vegetarian food ready to go. If they are really hungry – they will eat it and love it and come back for more.
A new favourite of the children’s is grated beets (raw) on their salad. They also like ’em roasted in a bit of bacon fat.
When we let them off their leash and take them in to town for a bite to eat they are making fairly smart choices. At least no one is begging to go to Mickey D’s anymore Chef!
I did not think they would eat this – but they did. And now they want it every day.
I made these ‘extra’ hot so they would not like ’em … and that backfired too.
The chef has one of the best – and easiest – recipes for rice pudding. This one will make a great breakfast treat for the kids when the weather turns cold.
This is one of my favourite images. I know it is in B & W … the colour one looks HIDEOUS.
First time making Paella – the Chef makes the best darn dinner we have ever had. The secret is in the rice. Run out and buy The Sunday Times today. They have the recipe.
I know. I still do not like – or eat – chocolate. BUT, I am told by many that this is the best brownie ever.
We are delighted to have been long-listed in THREE categories for this years Blog Awards of Ireland and I cannot tell you how freaking excited this makes me. I know the lists are indeed very long and the chances of making it to the short list are very slim – but let me tell you folks – it is the best feeling in the world just to be nominated.
Thank you readers for making this my favourite place to be, right here, in Blogtopia.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today, ’tis Sunday after all!
Oh – PS. The book sales are going very well. If you are still looking for a copy Kennys.ie offers free shipping worldwide!
Hello fellow food lovers,
Here is the longer and unedited version of our weekly contribution to the Sunday Times (June 17th 2012)
Enjoy the read and recipes,
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS