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.
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.
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.
Winner selected – please scroll to the bottom to see who won!
Ordinarily, I get invited to one or two events per week. Sometimes the events are food related; sometimes they are to an art showing, or a theatre production. I know….I know… I am a lucky gal.
MOST of the time, 80% of said events are in Dublin. Because, you know, everything cool happens in Dublin.
Living in Galway, it is clear that there is no end to the creativity displayed by the folks living in our beautiful little city by the sea. I am always tickled pink to get an invite to an evening of messy fun in my hometown and this one was just the best craic!
A few weeks ago, I got a quirky little invite from a lady named Laura over at The Gaiety Antique and Vintage Shop. She asked if we might be interested in popping in to their Galway shop on a Thursday evening for an Annie Sloan chalk paint workshop. Himself, who is the handiest of handymen when it comes to doing stuff around the house, was intrigued because he is a devout ‘strip it, sand it, paint it’ kinda guy and any paint that claims you don’t need to do all that work (in his humble opinion) is just a waste of money.
I on the other hand, am much more of a ‘it needs painting so just paint the fecking thing’ kinda gal. See, this is why they say opposites attract. I usually just wait for him to be at work, then go ahead and pretend I stripped the paint, sanded it and painted it … all while he was at work … only for my lies to be revealed a few weeks later when the new paint all starts a-peeling and a-chipping off.
The look of disdain, him glowering in my general direction, it’s, well, telling.
Yep – I was all over that.
We arrived a wee bit late, and Clodagh O’Conner (who co-owns The Gaiety with her husband), had already started the class! The traffic heading in to town on a Thursday night of a Bank holiday weekend – pure and utter mayhem and we only live 4 miles out the road!
On a side note, it is entirely worth your while signing up to their mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org because they have the loveliest stuff in their shop and loads of fun workshops planned for this summer!
Aprons on and paintbrushes ready to go we sat around a table with a few other local Annie Sloan chalk paint artists-in-the-making and dove right in to an evening of creativity and craic.
Things were about to get messy.
Once we got the hang of it though, we caught on fast. The paint, which dries to the touch in 45 minutes, goes on thick; like mayonnaise.
What’s really important with this chalk paint, is texture.
So ‘stippling’ and ‘layering’ were two techniques we were taught how to do right off the bat.
All the attendees got to choose their own colours and little by little, ended up getting the paint all over the table (which was cool) and all over our hands, and our jeans. Yep, made a holy show of myself.
Once you get the hang of it, you realise that because of its chalky nature, this paint is unlike anything else you have ever worked with. First of all, it is like, eh, chalk. If you get it on your hands, it just feels like a nice dry powder. It kinda rubs away after a bit and you don’t have the urge to run and wash your hands or the need to use mineral spirits to get rid of it.
Once we had our colours on the boards, we had to help the drying process along, or there would not be any time for a tea break!
So we shared our hairdryers and got that done then tooled about the upper level of the shop for a while, and then downstairs for a slice of carrot cake and lashings and lashings of lovely tea. I’m going to stop back in there next week just for the tea!
I know you think I’m crazy, but really and truly guys n’ dolls, the art of serving tea and really excellent cakes is dying out in Ireland. It is symbolic of times gone by, like my grannies day, and I treasure the moments when someone goes the extra mile to present the table in a beautiful manner for a quick tea break.
Anyway, back to work! Clodagh cracked the whip and marched us right back up the stairs to educate us on finishing techniques like distressing (ha, all the tea was gone!), dark waxing, colour washing and high gloss wax finishing (my favourite).
Although I was ever the attentive student, my mind kept wandering back around the corner to another side of the shop where I had left a gorgeous kitchen sideboard behind. I am still pining for it and have not yet figured out where it would fit in my kitchen ….
Clodagh snapped me back to reality when she started to chat about staining fabric in this paint. She passed around a few pieces of material to show us, that yes indeed, the paint will stain fabric beautifully, just make sure to hang it outdoors to dry (and not in your tumble dryer!) and only do it during the summer months when we are
not really guaranteed a bit of fine weather. Curtains she did this with. Honestly, her talent knows no end.
It was this beautiful tin (above) of clear finishing wax I fell in love with. It was kind like coconut oil. So soft and beautiful to work with. I dabbed my rag in the tin and buffed my Duck Egg Blue painted patch to a brilliant shine. I’m a-gonna have a can of this on hand for all my Annie Sloan chalk paint projects henceforth.
As if she had not shown and shared enough of her talent, Clodagh wrapped up her workshop by showing us how to paint wrapping paper using a roller. She did this last year for all her Christmas presents using brown wrapping paper and tied gorgeous red ribbons on them. Now, I feel horribly inadequate ….. and I must prepare for next Christmas!
As we slipped away into the night, Clodagh said she hoped we had enjoyed the evening and that we would stop back in for a cup of tea soon.
Laura Lydon, her trusty side-kick, expert tea-maker and paint brush washer, insisted we do pop back in for a cuppa … well you don’t have to ask me twice!
So …. anyone want to go to the next Annie Sloan chalk paint workshop? If you do, then I wanna know the answers to two questions (in the comment section below)
1. What it is you need to paint? Is it a chair, a wardrobe, a wall?
2. Why you would like to be chosen for this worksop?
I’ll be picking a winner on Sunday evening May 10th, 2015. As is customary on my WiseWords blog, you must be a registered reader and you can sign up via email for that right here.
The dates of the next few workshops at The Gaiety in Galway are as follows:
Saturday, May 9th, 2015. 10:30am – Chalk paint essentials – €65 pp
(This is what every young couple should sign up for. It would make an excellent wedding gift, or be something fun to do with your bridesmaids. I have also asked them to consider doing a summer workshop for the kids. Watch this space).
Saturday, May 16th, 2015. 10:30am – Lampshade workshop – €45 pp
Saturday, May 16th, 2015 – 2:30pm- Annie Sloan chalk paint demo – FREE
This is open to the public and I cannot recommend it enough. And shur if nothing else, pop in for the tea!
So – what are you waiting for? Hop on over to their Facebook page and keep an eye on the events at their shop. I missed their Christmas Tea last December because I was having surgery at the time … and my friends are still raving on about it.
Comments are free but you gotta be a regular reader and all subscribed via email to WiseWords (right here) to be a winner!
Best of luck to you.
AND The Winner is:
Congrats Margaret! See you in Galway soon.
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.
The humble head of Cauliflower.
Mostly roasted with coconut oil, turmeric and a bit of sea salt is how we snack on this vegetable or sometimes just raw to dip in a bowl of blue cheese or ranch dip; it’s a favourite here at Chez Wise.
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t really ‘need’ a recipe. If you have ever made a stirfry, then you already know how to make this.
- 2 heads of cauliflower, leaves and stalk too
- 4 eggs
- 8 green onions
- 2 hot chilis
- 4 Tbsp Sesame oil
- 2 tsp butter
- Pepper (white)
- Trim the leaves of the cauliflower and set aside.
- Cut the cauliflower up into florets and slice the stalk into large dice.
- Place it all in the flood processor and pule until it looks like rice.
- If you don’t have a food processor, grate the cauliflower on a large box grater.
- (This can be kept wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for a few days and it freezes well too).
- Slice the green onions an fresh chilis.
- Using a wok (or a large pan) add the butter and 4 eggs. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper and scramble roughly for 3 mins on high. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan, then pour in 1 Tbsp sesame oil.
- Start adding the cauliflower and stir it as it sautés.
- As you add in more cauliflower, add in a little more sesame oil.
- The cauliflower needs the oil to cook.
- It will not harden or crisp up – it just cooks into a delicious bowl of something that resembles rice.
- When the cauliflower is piping hot, add in the green onions and chilis.
- Then add the egg into the mix, one spoonful at a time.
- If you want to add a bit more protein to this meal, you can add it at this point (already cooked) and just allow the cauliflower to re-heat it. We tend to eat it asa veggie dish – because no one notices the meat or fish missing, but have had it with sesame crusted prawns and chicken too.
No one has noticed that there is ‘no rice’ in this stir fry. The kids all go back for seconds.
The nutritional value in cauliflower is high and it is very low in carbs. All in all, this is a humdinger of a dish, not to mention quite inexpensive too.
Basic nutrition details for this brassica:
A 1/2 cup of cooked cauliflower has 14 calories, 1.1 gram of protein, 2.6 grams of carbohydrate, 0.3 gram of fat and 1.4 grams of fiber. The low calorie and carbohydrate content of cauliflower makes it a suitable food for helping your lose weight as well as control your blood sugar, if you have diabetes.
More nutritional information right here
Ok – it’s Monday morning and there is a light blanket of snow on the ground in Galway. The mornings are getting brighter (around 6:45am this morning no lights were needed to find my way to the coffee pot!).
The kids are rambling around the house readying themselves for school and I have a long list of ‘crap to do’ this week – so Monday – let’s be having you!
Have a great week y’all.
Seven years ago, this week, the Chef and I, with two toddlers by our side, packed our bags, left our friends and (restaurant) life and family in Cincinnati, Ohio, behind us for greener pastures in Europe.
We spent a year living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. We lived a block from my brother and the beautiful lake and less than an hour from my sister in the Alsace wine country, France. This was the plan. This was the life. It was going to be fabulous. We would all raise our kids within close proximity of each other … at the time there was only 6 of them and that number has since risen to 12 (eleven in Europe and another one in Canada).
But as luck, or even fate, would have it, we did not love Switzerland and Switzerland did not love us. We were grieving for our friends back in the US and both began to worry that we had made a huge mistake. The eldest, RoriBelle, was nearing school-going age and we began to feel ‘homeless’. We had to face the facts; We had made a bad decision. Was it time to ‘go back home’ to the US?
My Mum finally managed to convince me to move back ‘home’ to Ireland – even if it was just for a few weeks visit. She knew we were heartbroken that things had not gone according to plan. She knew we needed time to heal. She also wanted those grandchildren within her grasp – because at the time (2008) she had no grandchildren living in Ireland and she’s needy like that. Since then, a lot of her prayers have been answered because she now has eight grandchildren living within a ten minute drive of her house. Careful what you wish for Granny .. your kitchen floor will never be clean with this bunch of beautiful brats we have all been blessed with.
Somehow, and under the threat of my Mum’s wooden spoon no doubt, I ended up in college. I never wanted to go. I was certain college was not for me. I have always had a creative mind. Exams, test taking, etc. whilst I did grand in secondary school, was not something I ‘loved’.
I remember, when still in Switzerland, talking to my boss, a lovely tall German lady, and she asked me what my ‘new’ plan was and I told her I was lost. I had no ‘plan B’ and I was just stuck. It’s true.
She said “Móna, self-made people like you always land on your feet”.
She did not mean any harm by that statement, but she, the rocket scientist who was highly educated, reminded me that I wasan employee without a college education. I did not know it then, but it was probably that punch in the gut she delivered, with grace, which propelled me into the university and made me buckle down .. I had to prove to myself and to my family, that I could do this.
Since then, I have achieved lots … the list is not long, but it is interesting and includes writing and publishing a book, winning multiple blog awards (which I have you readers to thank for) a lovely long contract with the Sunday Times, and just yesterday finishing up my Masters in Journalism with first class honours.
For the Americans reading this ….. I know you are thinking 72% seems low … that is because our grading system here is different to yours in the US. So really, a grade higher than 70% is damn near impossible to achieve. Throw in two kids, then add two more (foster) kids into the mix and a job on top of it all .. well, you get the picture.
College is not for everyone. Continuing eduction for a mature student, a parent, is impossibly hard.
It is a life I would not encourage you covet. Not unless you have 100% support from your spouse and your extended family and friends. You will need all of them. At exam time you will need a friends (quiet) spare room to hide in; during visiting lecture series time you will need your so-not-a-morning-person mother to drag her weary butt out of bed to take your kids to school because you have to get in two hours early to just get parking. You will need your partner to cook, do laundry, and entertain the kids by themselves for years and it will almost kill your relationship if you let it …. but it can be done.
The support is there. From your friends, from your family, from your lecturers.
All you have to do is ask for help.
So there you go … what is life if we don’t take risks? There is no guarantees that any of my decisions and risk-taking will pay off. I know this and the chef knows this. But allowing oneself to pursue things that make us happy in life is hugely rewarding – and that in itself makes this journey so much fun.
No sense in putting things on hold guys n’ dolls. …. there will never be a good time to ‘have a baby’, ‘go to college’, ‘look for a new job’, ’emigrate’, ‘move home’.
The time is now.
Now …. about that ‘look for a new job’ bit … any ideas?
I’ve had a little time on my hands these last few days and have put pen to paper – with the help of three terrific Irish Food Bloggers – to give you a little insight as to what kind of work is out there for food bloggers in Ireland today. I know it is a .pdf and this might not be suitable for a lot of you on your mobiles … but it is pages and pages long – a very interesting Q&A with the three bloggers I interviewed. Maybe table it for later … with a glasheen of wine or a lovely craft beer?
Totally worth your time if you are a blogger or especially if you want to hire a blogger to do a bit of writing for you.
The kids are back to school this week on Thursday. I will cherish the silence in my house and I will think of you all, fondly of course, as I resume life as a stay-at-home Mum eating bon bons and drinking excessive amounts of Nespresso.
I’ll be back to blogging on a more regular schedule too I reckon … so brace yourself.
Ok – clicky down below the image for a bit of a read … and feel free to leave lovely comments in the box when you have finished digesting it all. All the nasty comments will be printed out and sent off to be laid to rest on the men’s room floor in the local pub – where they belong.
That’s all I got for now,
Click link below for a read …oh and if it brings you to another screen where you have to click the .pdf again…just click it!
Go figure..pain in the ass, I know.
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