Tagged with "Galway Market Archives - Wise Words"
Nov 15 2015

Galway Hooker Beer Cheese Soup

Posted by     8 Comments    in Kitchen

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.

galway_hooker_60_knots IPA Beer Cheese Soup

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.

Galway Hooker India Pale Ale Beer Cheese Soup

5.0 from 3 reviews

Galway Hooker Beer Cheese Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6
 

A delicious soup to warm you from the inside out on a cold wintry wet day.
Ingredients
  • 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

Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Galway Hooker India Pale Ale Beer Cheese Soup

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!

WiseMóna

 

Aug 30 2015

#TapasTrail in Galway with Campo Viejo Wines

Posted by     2 Comments    in Kitchen

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?

EventBrite Tickets #TapasTrail

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.

Cava Wine Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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.

Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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.

House Hotel Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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.

Cava Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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…

Sheridans Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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!

Map Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

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!

WiseMóna

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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. 

 

 

May 2 2015

Galway’s #BestScone – send in your nominations please!

Posted by     6 Comments    in Kitchen

Ah …. nothing quite like a cup of tea and a scone.

Some like their scones warm with butter, a bit of jam or clotted cream. Some like them burnt a bit around the edges, caramelisation of the currants and raisins, and some like ’em hot outta the oven with nothing on ’em.

When it comes to finding ‘Galway’s Best Scone’ I thought about it for a few weeks before taking action. I chose a few places in the city centre, and a few in the outskirts.  All of them have damn fine reputations for their baked goods.

And why am I doing this I hear you ask? Well, because Goodalls Ireland is running their #BestScone competition again this year. Last year I was kinda disappointed that Galway did not win, even though Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey did make it to the final ten!

So this year, we have take it upon ourselves to find a few decent scones to nominate from right here in Galway!

I need your participation please, after you do your own research of course, I want you to hop over on to their Facebook page or send them a Tweet to nominate your favourite Galway Scone. If you look up the hashtag #BestScone on Twitter, you will see a long stream of scone nominations coming in from all over the country.

The Top Ten Best Scones in the country get in to the finals and the overall winner, aside from claiming the title of Irelands Best Scone, will also win €1,000 for their shop.

Shur – we could all use a few extra pennies in the purse guys n’ dolls.

So please, use my research as motivation to get your favourite scones on the map. Nominate today! (Because the deadline is May 8th, so hurry).

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How ‪#‎Bestscone‬ competition works.

Firstly Goodalls invites nominations from the public (via Facebook and Twitter) as to who they think have the Best Scones in Ireland.

At the end of the nominations period the 10 businesses with the highest amount of nominations go forward to a public vote which will be worth 50% of the overall result.

The final 50% will be earned at the scone tasting at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, by a panel of expert judges.

The marks will be counted and verified on the 8th June 2015 and a winner chosen!

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Scones for the taking. Taste at Born.

I assembled a tasting panel of four experts, (no kids this time just industry experts) and we held a blind tasting. This is the best way to get totally unbiased feedback from a group of Galwegians, because trust me, their loyalty to certain businesss’ might just sway their decisions.

I know the photos below are not sexy, but there was a need to make this as simple as possible, giving the price and weight of the sone too – incase this matters to the reader, or the eater!

One thing I found interesting when reviewing the details with our tasting panel, was that in this instance, size actually didn’t matter.

The criteria we felt was important was simple:

–     Fruit content – this is very important

–     Mouthfeel (not gummy and not dry)

–     Over mixed/dense – don’t overwork the dough!

–     Balance of flavour (not too sweet, or salty, can you taste baking soda?)

–     Attractiveness (colour, shape, burnt or not!)

–     Is it fresh??

I weighed them all and shared the prices too. Keep in mind, both Kai Café and Taste at Born are more eat in cafés than take-away-bakery so their prices are that much higher and their scones are bigger. We also placed the scones in a low-lukewarm oven to give them all a chance to appear ‘fresh from the oven’.

To kick of our quest for #Galway’s #BestScone, we started at Galway’s Best Café!

I make no bones about it. #WeLOVEKai. I have had their scones on previous occasions and knew they would be contenders as all of their baked goods are pretty stellar.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: A bit doughy, great taste but not enough fruit.

Expert 2: A bit disappointing and not enough fruit.

Expert 3: Nice, but I really need butter and jam with it.

Expert 4: Not enough fruit but decent.

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Next up, an institution of fine foods and wines in Galway for years, and slap bang in the middle of town, McCambridges of Galway.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: Way too dry. Fell apart when cut open and no fruit.

Expert 2: Very dry – and no fruit at all . This was clearly yesterday’s scone – not fresh.

Expert 3: Way too dry; No fruit at all. Tight crumb, no air and way over-mixed.

Expert 4: Dry. No fruit, or there was a bit of a raisin – but it was burnt.

(Note to readers … by ‘no fruit’ they mean when cut open the scone is bare but there are one or two raisins scattered on the edges – so technically there ‘is’ fruit, but clearly not enough).

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Ok, the third scone we sampled came from the lovely Jenny – Taste at Born on the canal. If you have not been to this little café, then you need to put it on your list. Sitting on the banks of the canal, she has quite possibly the nicest outdoor patio in the city. AND, she  does not ‘charge extra’ for her gorgeous range of Gluten Free baked goods. She also makes the best cupcakes in Galway and is known to many as ‘the cupcake lady’.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: Would be better with butter and actually was.

Expert 2: Lacking in flavour but decent texture.

Expert 3: Too doughy, a bit under baked and could do with a bit more sugar.

Expert 4: Not enough flavour or fruit but nice texture.

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Ok – moving on to number four, we cut open what I thought looked like a stellar scone. A bit square, and loaded with fruit, it looked like the kind of scone we used to have as kids. This one came from The Oven Door, at No. 3 Middle Street (close to entrance of Augustinian church) and their phone number is (091) 563 805.

Interestingly enough, these guys have zero web presence hence the sharing above of physical address and phone number.

They are aptly named, because you walk in the door of their tiny shop and are practically in their oven. Floured from head to toe, the pleasant bakers are there to tempt you with tarts, scones, bread and a slew of other beautiful traditionally baked Irish goodies.

 

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: The crust is really lovely and this scone is loaded with fruit.

Expert 2: Loved the crunch of the crust and texture. Might have found a little baking soda aftertaste but not offensive.

Expert 3: I’d buy this scone again. Just lovely.

Expert 4: Great flavour and fruit. From the looks of it might not buy it as I prefer a more ‘well done’ scone, but this was very nice.

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And now, we move on to Griffins Bakery, located down the town near the Kings Head. A favourite bakery of many a native and tourist, Griffins has been feeding the city of the tribes for decades.

 

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: This looks and feels very strange. The texture is very different to the other scones and the taste and mouthfeel is just weird.

Expert 2: Way too salty. It is not like a fruit scone, even though it has fruit.

Expert 3: This looks and tastes like an American savoury biscuit. Like the ones you have with sausage gravy for breakfast. I don’t like it.

Expert 4: This tastes very different. It tastes like it is supposed to be a savoury scone maybe? It seems like they used a different flour too as it is nothing like the other scones in texture, weight or to look at.

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Moving on to number six, we sliced into the scones from The Gourmet Tart. Now, as I live with a baker, there is very little need for me to buy a loaf of bread around here, but I have been known to purchase their seeded Ciabatta on occasion.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: This tastes burnt. The raisins are hard and there is not enough fruit.

Expert 2: Burnt outside and undercooked in the middle. The oven was too hot.

Expert 3: I just don’t like it. It is too doughy/under baked in the middle.

Expert 4: This is kind of like eating cream crackers. It’s doughy and dry at the same time. and a bit of a slimy-across-the-tongue texture.

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And last but not least, we finished up with Morton’s of Galway. Now, as we were doing a blind tasting, you can be sure that the tasters did not have a clue they were rating my husband’s scone. Had they even tried to guess, it would have been impossible because  all scones were so different. Had the panelists known they were sampling his morning efforts, they might have shown bias or have chosen not be honest enough with him – just to spare his hurt feelings, bless their little hearts.

Feedback is crucial folks. Be it positive or negative. We can always learn from a bit of criticism.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: There is not enough fruit. The cranberries are lovely – just need more. The scone is delicious.

Expert 2: Baked perfectly. Great crunch, mouthfeel and texture. More fruit please. I’d up the price to €0.90 and add loads more cranberries. ( I wonder how Eric Morton will feel about this?)

Expert 3: This is a good scone. I’d buy it again.

Expert 4: A bit salty and shaped too perfectly but not bad.

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So there you have it guys and dolls.

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It was clear to us which bakeries were using a high quality flour and just raw ingredients. Some are using a premixed ‘just add water’ kind of mix and others are using a product that has lots of dough conditioners and modifiers in it.

A pre-mix is not necessarily the end of the world, and many bakeries use this because it is hard to offer consistency when you have a (sometimes) transitional staff. One baker makes and bakes the first batch in the morning and the lunchtime baker does the next batch. The first baker might mix his batch by hand, making sure the dough is never overworked and sticks to the recipe. The second-shift baker might throw it all into the mixer because they are in a hurry and could forget to add salt if not following the recipe.

You can’t compete with a bakery that offers consistency all year round. They are the ones who deserve the title of #BestScone in Galway and Ireland for that matter.

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Kai Café always showcases the most beautiful baked goods.

So, our panelists all agreed that Kai and Morton’s shared second place and Taste at Born  ranked third.

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Only one bakery had their ingredients listed – Morton’s (eggs, butter, marg, flour, salt, sugar, raising agent, milk, cream, buttermilk, cranberries). Morton’s takes the lead in offering the cheapest scone out of the bunch listed here, an they also offer mini scones at €0.38 ea – this is a great deal.

The clear winner for all panelists was:

Number FOUR – The Oven Door

 

So now that I have done all the hard work for you and whetted your appetite for a lovely warm scone this dreary dismal Saturday morning, can you let your fingers do the walking and please nominate your favourite scone in Galway!

Vote here on Facebook or here on Twitter.

Thanks for reading along and enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

WiseMóna

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If you would like to be added to our panel of expert tasters for future research, shoot me an email at MonaZWise {at} GMail {dot} com

And if you have a favourite scone – leave  a comment right here below telling us why it is so great, and share a link so everyone else can check them out.

I have already heard from a few people over on Instagram that PoppySeed in Galway and The Hungry BookWorm in Loughrea have excellent scones.

 

Jun 24 2014

Bog butter

Posted by     8 Comments    in Kitchen

Bog Butter

Dunmore residents give us the dish on an old delicacy

by Móna Wise

15 June 2014

(Originally published in the Connacht Tribune on Thursday 19th June 2014)

Dunmore Demesne golf club looked fabulous in all its summer glory as I wheeled my way through the Galway countryside last weekend.

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Larry McGuire and Anne Reddington, owners of Galway Goat Farm based just outside Dunmore, had made a recent discovery of Bog Butter and curiosity got the better of me. It was easy tempt me to make the hour long journey out from Galway city to see it, and even taste it.

Butter, it seems, is quite a common thing to find in the bogs of Ireland. Over 274 instances of bog butter has been recorded between 1817 to 1997, and several more since then. A recent find in 2011 of over 45 kg of bog butter found in Tullamore, County Offaly, thought to be 5,000 years old.

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A few weeks ago, when taking a walk down in the bog, Anne’s brother, Michael, happened upon this small wheel of butter and phoned his brother-in-law Larry, straight away. Larry, being familiar with all things dairy, due to the fact that he milks his goats daily, raced down the bog after them to check it out.

“They were gone ahead of me so I tore off in the van down the road after them. I had heard of other people finding butter in the bog, but was curious myself to see this. It looks like it had been wrapped in some kind of leaves, maybe cabbage, and there was lots of moss and maybe a bit of straw wrapped around it too.”

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The tradition of burying butter in the bog dates back centuries with their even being a poem by London poet, William Moffet, written (in 1755) to describe how much a part of every day life this was:

 

“But let his faith be good or bad,

He in his house great plenty had,

Of burnt oat-bread, and butter found,

With Garlic mixt, in boggy ground,

So strong, a dog, with help of wind,

By scenting out, with ease might find;

And this they count the bravest meat,

That hungry mortals e’er did eat.”

 

The reference to garlic comes from the fact that a lot of the butter might have been wrapped in wild garlic, it certainly grows a plenty in this part of the world, but this particular stash had a very mild scent and certainly no trace of garlic essence to be found.

 

“Gurteen, the area where we are now” said Larry, was predominantly poor land years ago, with not much around here except a massive oak forest. The area was hard hit by the famine, and due to there being so much bog land around here, there would have been very poor grazing land for cattle around here, so it is hard to tell why the butter ended up being stored right out here in the middle of the bog.”

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After Larry unearthed the butter, weighing more than a kilo, it was surprising to see how intact the butter still was. The texture crumbled easily enough like a dry waxy cheese, and although quite odourless, it had a mildly rancid flavour, something that can only be described best as ‘really old waxy unsalted cheese’.

 

While some forms of bog butter found are meat based made from tallow, it seems more plausible that this one is dairy based as the colour still leans more towards yellow.

Jack Wise. Age 9. Claregalway

Larry and Anne have a call in to the curator of the Galway Museum in the hopes that they might come out and have a look at it and help them identify a timeline for their find.

 

In days gone by butter was considered a luxury item, and it is really no different today as it is one of those items that carries an ever fluctuating price. In the past, because it was always deemed valuable, that reason alone made it worth hiding. As none of the butter found in recent times in Irish bogs have been known to have salt in them, the best conclusion we can come to is that this was buried, wrapped in leaves, moss and grass, in the bog as the only way of preserving it, pre-refrigeration days.

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The mystery as to why it was buried so far removed from any form of dwellings even ancient ruins, remains a mystery we hope the curator of the Galway museum can answer.

Rori Wise, Age 11. Claregalway.

One thing is certain though, preserving a fabulous food-find right here in Galway is vital to us finding and revealing a lot more of the gastronomic details of our ancestors daily diet.

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Who needs a fridge for butter with the bog nearby?

Our cultural landscape

There are many theories behind the burying of butter. A common tactic in war was destroying the enemies foodstuffs, ensuring a famine, so butter might have been buried for reasons of security and defence, so this find might indicate a sudden attack or flight of the people who stored it.

Another theory is just a practical farming one, in that the cattle were released to graze in greener pastures during the warmer months and the butter was made and stored nearby.

Why the bog?

Peat bogs provide a cold and wet environment with virtually no oxygen circulating in its muddy depths.

The build up of plant materials over thousands of years creates highly acidic conditions making it perfect to preserve many items including food and even bodies. Whilst we have butter in our bogs, many other countries have buried and re-discovered other food products such as eggs in China, ghee (clarified butter) in India, cheese in Italy and even milk in Norway.

Interesting details

A piece of bog butter found in Rosmoylan, County Roscommon, was discovered in wooden barrel with a selection of plants like ‘sedge’, ‘wheat grass’ and ‘hypnum’ a type of moss. All three of these types of plan materials were commonly used by people to stuff their mattresses for bedding, with the Latin word ‘hypnos’ even translating to the mean ‘sleep’. It is lovely to think of the Irish milking maids of days gone by wrapping up their wheels of butter and laying them down in the bogs for a nice long sleep in the bog.

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Thanks for reading – if you are in or around Galway this week, then keep an eye out for this weeks Connacht Tribune on Thursday 26th, 2014. I have a two-page spread on fun activities ALL FOR FREE ….. a cut out and stick on the fridge piece to help keep the kids occupied (and not break the bank) this summer!

WiseMóna

Jun 17 2014

Recipe for success at Kai Café in Galway

 Couples who cook

By Móna Wise

*Originally published in the Connacht Tribune on  Thursday June 5th 2014, where I am undertaking my work placement (newsroom) experience for the MA in Journalism at NUIG.

Jess and David at Kai

These days, with the rates of divorce skyrocketing even in Ireland, it seems that the act of getting married is easy and staying married is posing to be a sometimes impossible challenge.

Why then, do some couples seem to make life even harder by foraying into the same line of work as their spouse? When looking up and down the coast of Galway and Mayo, it is easy to find several couples who have decided that wedded bliss is just not enough for them and they feel the need to flex their masochistic muscles by entering into a business contract with their bedfellows.

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David Murphy and his wife Jess Margurte-Murphy are a perfect example of this. A little over 14 years ago, David, a Carlow native, headed down under to backpack his way around Australia for three or four months. He just wanted to have a bit of fun.

“Those plans all came to a crashing halt because I met Jess almost straight away” he laughed.

A clear cut case of love at first sight, he and his new love, Jess Margurte-Murphy a chef by trade from New Zealand, knew they were soul mates and moved in together within a few weeks of their first kiss.

An engineer by trade, David took a break from his career and showed interest in a job he saw advertised in a restaurant on an island off the west coast of Perth. “They were looking for couples to come out and work on the island for the summer months so Jess and I, along with an Irish couple from Mullingar, spent the summer working alongside each other in the kitchen, Jess as a chef and me as a kitchen porter.”

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As with all summer jobs, the fun was short lived and David returned to his career as soon as summer break came to an end.
Although it was love at first sight for the duo now sharing a home together, David was still focused on his career in engineering and pursued that route having no problem finding employment but it did put a strain on their schedules. So how did this work out for the lovebirds?

“It was different I suppose. We were working entirely different schedules and only occasionally saw each other on a Sunday” said David. “All was not lost though, because you see I had time to focus on my love for Rugby and I invested in a paid subscription to Sky Sports.”

Jess chimed in with a loud laugh adding “Yes, it was like Sky saved our marriage really. We were like two ships passing in the night I mean, we still chatted a lot in the early days about me having a little café, but it was all pie in the sky kind of ideas at that stage. I wanted one of those tiny 40 seat cafés, where I could serve up gorgeous cakes, lovely fresh-from-the-farm salads, and in my mind it would be like having a load of friends around for supper every day.”

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But this never happened in Australia or in even in Jess’s native New Zealand.

“The timing was not right for either of us. The idea of owning and operating our own business was too scary at the time and I suppose we just were not ready. I felt like I had a lot more to learn and David was focused on working as an engineer. In 2003 we decided to up sticks and move to Ireland. I had always wanted to get work experience in a Michelin Star restaurant. Back then (and still now) Kevin Thornton was doing amazing things with food in his kitchen and so we found ourselves one day dumped onto St. Stephens Green in Dublin, me with my knife kit and David with his toolbox.”

Although David carried on with his career in engineering, while Jess worked her one-year stint with Kevin Thornton in Dublin, the West was calling.

“It was an easy decision to move West really,” said David. “Although Jess had never been, I had spent several summer holidays in the west as a young boy and I knew it would be a great place to call home. The Bord Fáilte ads on the telly had us plagued. ‘Come to the West’ they’d scream at us each night on the telly, with images of the white sandy Connemara beaches beckoning. It was like being brainwashed really. I think even if it had been pictures of lashing rain and people drinking pints by the fire, we would have ended up in Galway.”

Jess took a job immediately in the Ard Bia kitchen and David with an engineering firm in Abbeyknockmoy.

Although the idea of still opening her own place was in the back of her mind, Jess knew she had to learn to walk before she ran and she kept her nose to the grindstone learning as much as she could while working for Ard Bia, then on to Sheridans Cheesemongers and eventually on to Bar 8 on the docks.

It might have been then, when working at Bar 8, when they both felt the tides turning so to speak. Jess was finding it more and more frustrating to not having control over the day-to-day operations and one day just packed it in knowing they were about to make another big change again.

Still, and before making the massive financial commitment a raging entrepreneurial spirit requires, with a bit of wanderlust lingering they toyed with the notion of moving to Denmark for a few years, but that notion dissolved pretty quickly when she heard that The Budding Cafe (Heenahans florist) was relocating and they were looking for a new tenant for that space on Sea Road, now known as Kai Café.

 

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Citing the invaluable experience she had received working for Sheridan’s Cheesemongers alongside Galway’s first Michelin star chef Enda McEvoy (now getting ready to open his own restaurant called LOAM), Jess knew she was ready.

But was David? Would he not miss the world of engineering and a steady pay check?
“No. I love coming to work every day. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much to be honest. Jess had been rambling on about having her own place for so long that it just felt right for both of us. She was ready to go back to her roots and cook in the same style her grandmother taught her, pickling and preserving. Her time working alongside Enda McEvoy at Sheridans Cheesemongers gave her something I never thought she needed – confidence.”

“I’ve always been bossy I suppose; I’ve always been the boss” said Jess smirking, “I knew the time was right to move forward and do my own thing. Something was unleashed in me and it was time to put it to work. I always thought Dave and I would end up investing our own money in Bar 8 and when that did not happen, I just knew it was time for us to join forces and do our own thing. I could not believe I had first dibs on that little cafe. The good vibes from the whole deal made it a no-brainer for us.”

 

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So, how does a couple go from leading polar opposite career paths to beautiful business bliss overnight?

“I stay out of the kitchen” chuckles Dave. “No, what I meant to say is I know the best times to go in to the kitchen. It’s a very small space and you need to have a purpose to be in there as there is just no room for standing around – it’s too easy to get in the way. I have my job and Jess has hers. We can manage to work a twelve or fourteen hour shift together but rarely speak to each other because I’m out front and she’s in the back doing her thing.”

“And we still chat about our day after service. Sometimes reviewing how dinner service ran or who was in for lunch that day” Jess chimes in. “and sometimes we work on different days just so we have a bit of ‘alone time’ at home by ourselves. Every couple needs breathing space, don’t they?”

 

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But what happens when things go belly up and harsh words are spoken? How can you keep this from affecting the attitude and mood at your workplace?

“We keep it out of the kitchen” said Dave. “We know each others strengths and weaknesses all to well at this point and we just steer clear of each other. Neither of us hold grudges (Jess injects her infectious guffaw of laughter here) and we have mastered the art of keeping our dirty laundry out of the public eye.”

“We are fortunate to work with a few excellent people at Kai Café and they know our moods and understand it is normal. They keep out of our way and we just get on with the business at hand. Now that we have been open for three years it is easier. Home life is bliss, and we have all the right team players in place at Kai so it leaves little room for ructions these days. Now we are at the point where we set aside a little more time to pursue other dreams.”

Perhaps a second place maybe a bit of a gastro pub with restaurant style grub and lots more fermentation and loads of local beers on tap?

“Perhaps, perhaps,” said David. It is all possible isn’t it? Right now we are just going to continue to take care of our customers and employees and enjoy doing what we do. Taking care of people is a great honour and privilege and now we have found a way to build and maintain a solid footing in Galway, we are really just starting to enjoy the ride.

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………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Thanks for reading …. I have a lot more pieces that will be popping up in this local newspaper over the course of the summer.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

WiseMóna

May 2 2014

Does Galway have what it takes to claim the title as Ireland’s Best Food Destination?

Posted by     5 Comments    in The Snug

WIseMona Foodie Town

You bet your sweet ass we do.

Watch this video first … it serves as a nice reminder of how passionate the locals are about the thriving food scene in Galway. We are also very passionate about the thriving Beer scene in Galway but will have to leave that for another day.

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The Restaurants Association of Ireland, in association with AdMailer.ie from An Post, are on the search for Ireland’s premier foodie destination.

I  need your help.  Click on the image below and vote for Galway – please.

Foodie Towns graphic

AND … because you helped me out – this is a little reminder to stay tuned. Just like last summer, we will be hosting a few FABULOUS summer giveaways right here on the blog so you can pack up, get away for a few days – and head WEST!

Maybe a couple of nights right here in Galway at The G Hotel or a few nights at Mulranny Park Hotel in Westport? Just as long as you are a registered reader of our blog – you will be in with a chance to win. There are a few other places lined up for later in the summer too … I can’t wait to blog-all-about-them.

Now- back to the voting ….. anyone can vote so share the link with your friends and family

PLEASE help us put Galway on the map!

THANK YOU!!

Have a lovely weekend … we have a nice long one here on the island with it being a May Bank Holiday weekend. No plans really … just the usual chasing after four kids to keep us busy.

WiseMóna

 

PS – if you have any trouble with the voting page .. please let me know via the comments section down below or via twitter or email me at MonaZWise@gmail.com.

 

Mar 11 2014

Morton’s of Galway

Posted by     8 Comments    in Reviews

 

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Morton’s of Galway

Purveyors of cheese, fresh fish, bespoke butchering and beautiful breads all washed down with a wonderful selection of wines.

Salthill (beside the Warwick Hotel), Galway

(091) 522-237

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Odd, considering my husband has been baking his little heart out here for four years already, that I have not blogged about it before.

A small little shop on the edge of Salthill and only a stones thrown from the beach, you will be surprised to find so much crammed into this little shop.

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Maybe I was just waiting for him to settle in? To make sure that he liked it enough to stay there?

When we moved back home to Galway in 2008, it took him a long time to settle.

The first place he worked at was too big, the second place treated their employees like dirt, and now – just like Goldilocks – this little gem of a shop seems to be just the right fit for himself.

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It’s the cake job really – as he only works Monday through Friday from 8am – 2pm and has weekends and bank holidays off.

His baking day starts the night before … at 7:30pm he starts a mix called ‘Poolish’ which is used for his daily white breads which consist of Ciabatta, Foccaccia and Pizza.

He also keeps his sourdough fed here at home and another tub of it at work and makes several loafs of beautiful Sourdough each day – selling an 800g loaf for €2.00.

The prices on the other breads range from €1.50 – €3 per loaf.

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Aside from all the bread, they also make a delicious selection of ‘foods-to-go’ each day and this is where the shop becomes a one-stop-shop kinda place.

Traditional dishes like Fish Pie, or Shepherds Pie and a couple of Pasta dishes line the shelves, and occassionally Paella is thrown in to the mix –   keeping it affordable at €5.99.

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It is the kind of shop you almost have to go out of your way to pay a visit too – due to the location and it not being city-centre – and I just wanted to let you know that it is certainly worth your while.

Eric Morton, the owner, has excellent taste and passion for wines. You can see this with the selection he has on offer. The wines are priced well and there are always a few gems in the bargain bin.

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He’s a dab hand at selecting cheese too – so if you are trying to put a birthday basket together for someone, or even a small hamper for your Mum on Mothers day (March 30th in Ireland) then seek him out for a bit of advice. He is only too happy to help and they make gorgeous gift baskets. Hint hint honey …

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Over at the deli counter the Morton’s crew are ready and willing to take your loaf of bread and turn it into a nice big fat sandwich. They have a fine selection of cured meats, cheeses and roasted veggies for you to choose from.                 If the sun sticks around, I reckon this is the best place to grab a to-go lunch and hit the prom for a lovely walk filling your lungs with the sea air.

Morton’s is less than a fifteen minute (with long legs) walk from  Galway city centre and if you have never popped in for a visit, now is a great time because the bread is just popping out of the oven!

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He also does speciality birthday cakes etc. so ask for Ron when you stop in – he loves to talk bread with anyone.

That’s all for today folks …

I just submitted my first ever effort at a radio documentary – it turned out alright. Have a listen if you have 30 minutes to kill on your daily commute.

We are finally starting to see a little sun here in the West and with only a few more weeks of class left to finish up my MA in Journalism … I have spring fever . .

Watch out world .. hibernation has ended!

WiseMóna

Nov 9 2013

{Christmas Countdown – 7 Weeks to go} McCambridges of Galway

Posted by     No Comments    in Kitchen

McCambridge’s

38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland

Email :   retail@mccambridges.com

Phone :  091 562259   (International +35391 562259)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McCambridges

Twitter :    www.twitter.com/McCambridges38

 

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I was trolling through my photos from McCambridges and noticed that several of them were (coincidentially) of Beer & Wine. So I sent a quick email to Natalie MCCambridge, one of the owners, and asked her to shuttle me on a few of hers. Just to add to the variety of what they offered.

She sent me the following few images ..

McCambridges Wine

McCambridges Irish beer fridge

McCambridges Wine 2

So, as you can see … these guys rock in the Beer & Wine department. But here is something you may not know. In addition to offering fabulous fare (for lunch) from the deli counter downstairs and an excellent selection of teas and coffees to boot, they have, in the last year, expanded to now serve lunch in their beautifully designed space above the store. They are also serving dinner (up until 9pm from mid-December) for a few weeks over the festive season. Go there – eat lots. Shop till you drop.

Great care was made in sourcing much of the reclaimed materials used in the renovations and let me tell you, with the expert design eye of local arthitect Stephen Walton (who also brings his design beauty to Kai Cafe) ‘Upstairs @ MCCambridges’ is where it is at ladies and gentlemen.

McCambridges upstairs nice light

McCambridge’s of Galway is a family owned Deli and Fine Foods Shop and Restaurant located in the heart of Galway city centre. On any given day you will find this shop a-buzzing with people zipping in and out to get a few bits and pieces. They are notably famous for the way they treat their customers. If you are already on their mailing list, then you know what I am talking about. Their annual Christmas party invite should be arriving in the post any day now. A fantastic evening with the McCambridge family celebrating with their vendors (who bring the food and wine) and customers, (who drink all the food and wine) with all proceeds go to a most deserving charity.

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We have attended Sunday brunches, weekday lunches, book launches, cheese tastings, wine tastings and have sat upstairs for a host of other reasons … sometimes to duck out of the rain and have a glass of wine by the window watching the world stroll by.

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Sometimes we stop in for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee with friends .. and we always hope to see their talented Chef Heather … who is always only too delighted to let you know which cake to take a stab at. She’d know, because she makes every one of them. earlier this year, at a book launch I think, she made this little appetiser of Polenta cubes topped with mushrooms and truffle oil. I can still taste it. A damn shame it is not on the menu.

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For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).

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There are not that many places in Galway that leave  a lasting impression on me when I go out to eat, or do my grocery shopping. I guess I am hard to please. I want to be able to find the product I am looking for with ease and if  I can’t find it, trust that the employees will be only too happy to help me.

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes chatting (on the radio) with Sean O’Rourke, the presenter of RTE Radio 1 ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show. He wanted an update on the Food Scene in Galway and if you listen in, you will hear that McCambridges was one of the places I talked about because of the variety of Galway products they showcase.

 One of my favourite places to shop for foodie presents for Christmas.

 

WiseMóna

Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.

 

Nov 5 2013

{Christmas Countdown … 8 weeks to go} Asiatic Asian Food Store

Posted by     15 Comments    in Kitchen

Barely 8 weeks till Christmas guys and dolls.

I am putting together a few blog posts on my favourite places to shop-till-ya-drop in Galway.

Most of them are food havens but I might throw in one or two cute-for-kitsch shops too.

First up ..

Asiatic Asian Food Store

Asiatic Manila Food Store,
25 Upper Abbeygate Street.,
Galway City, Ireland,
Co. Galway

Call: 00353-91-567967

asiatic_manila@yahoo.com

 Open daily – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

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This little gem has been in Galway for a few years now (right across the road from Sally Longs Pub) but they were on the other side of the road until a few months ago. They have moved into a bigger and brighter place and have the best supply of Asian ingredients in Galway.

The meat counter is not to be sneezed at, mostly because the butcher will find you anything your heart desires. We are embracing  Oxtail and lamb shank seasons these days.

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They have a very impressive frozen foods section too – and I am delighted to be able to (finally) buy Edamame .. in the shell and out of the shell. It is the little things in life, I know.

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One of the things that hooked me on this Asian food store, as opposed to a few others in Galway, was the excellent selction of fresh herbs they have. It does not matter if you don’t have a clue what half of them are, or if you have no idea how to use them. The staff are only too excited to tell you what to do with them all.

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I still have not figured out exactly what to do with the dried banana Flowers … I have made tea with them and it was alright … and I pulverised a few and added them to Banana muffins … they were ok … but surely there is something more we can do with this, right?

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Anyway, incase you are not tempted by all the fresh herbs and dried flowers, you need to pop in to buy a rice cooker. They have them for only twenty euros – now that is a bargain … and they have gobs of rice to choose from.

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They also have a few other items that one might wonder about ….

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Whatever Asian flavour you are craving .. this is the shop for you.

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One last thing ….. during these times of belt tightening and in the lead up to Christmas, a little bit of mulah goes a very long way in this shop. I think a gift certificate for students (ahem) would be a well recieved gift, as would a basket filled with their excellent Ramen noodle or Pho soup packages. They are so good, there is little need to order from the Take-away on a Friday night.

Up next …. McCambridges .. so stay tuned!

WiseMona

 

Oct 24 2013

Graduate … a weighted word that has a very simple meaning. Educated.

Posted by     42 Comments    in Kitchen

 

This week, I earned a very important piece of paper.

Degree

I graduated with an honours degree in English, German and Creative Writing.

After the year I have had, I am honest-to-god delighted to have graduated at all. If you have no idea what I am talking about … then read this article here.

MWMUM

My Mum, Catherine, also earned it as she has been talking care of the ‘homework and school side of things’ for our four children for the last four years. She has also carved out an inordinate amount of time to just being ‘Granny’ to them and ‘Mammy’ to me.

I love you Mum.

MWRLWMUM

Husband and best friend of mine, aka the Chef, should not be left out either. He is still cooking up a storm and taking excellent care of our little family – and the feathered flock too.

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I can’t imagine that my smile could be so smiley …

I feel  … educated.  I also feel exhausted and am still worried about that pile of laundry that just never seems to stop growing.

KAI

After the conferring ceremony had finished, Mum, the Chef and I, with my cousin Jamie (who took the photos) all went to Kai Cafe for a quick bite of lunch. We rarely get to do this without the children … so this was a nice treat.

We were greeted with Quince Bellinis … if you have never had one … then go get one right now.

Jamie Food Blogger

I have not said it enough … but there is fierce comfort in going to a cafe where you just know every bite will be perfect .. everytime.

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After the festivities had died down, I made a few important stops to see my BFF’s for a few photos ‘in cap n’ gown’ and then paid a visit to my Dad who has been laying low for 13 years now.

Dad

Those that state it it gets easier as time goes by are big fat liars. I have never cried so many tears. It is not like I have been a big loser my whole life or anything. I never questioned whether or not Dad was ever proud of me. I just hate that he is not here to see me kinda-sorta get my shit together.

Kids

And then the mucksters got home from school … and all hell broke loose.

Things are going well here in Galway. I decided at the very very last minute to take on ONE FINAL year of college and have jumped in with both feet to the MA class of Journalism.

This is a 12 month course so there will be one more graduation next year before I get back into the world of ‘all work and no play’.

One of my first radio broadcasting assignments aired last week on Flirt.fm (101.3 fm).

I titled it ‘Life as a mature student’.

It is ten minutes long. Have a listen.

Thanks for all the love and support over the last four years guys n’ dolls.

I could not have kept sane without my blog and all my buddies.

WiseMona

 

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