6 Abbeygate Street upper
Open: Monday – Sunday from 12 noon – 9pm
Having spent more than 15 yrs living and working in the US, it goes without saying that we all love Mexican food here at Chez Wise. So much so, that due to the lack of any decent Mexican food eateries in Galway over the last 8 years, we have just had our own little weekly fiesta at home. We have pined silently and patiently for someone to open up a Chipotle or heaven forbid, somewhere like The Comet in Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio, where we used to frequent quite a bit when we lived the other side of the pond.
Over the last couple of years, there have been a few interesting additions to the Mexican food offerings in our little city-by-the-sea, and I am here to tell you that Tuco’s Taqueria is leagues ahead of the others.
A couple of years ago, we caught wind of the fact that Boojum was coming to Galway – a chain with decent offerings and large portions. It had all the potential of becoming a favourite cheap n’ cheerful kinda place, but we all felt a little queasy every time ate there, so we ditched that plan!
For a few years, if we found ourselves in Dublin around lunchtime with little time to spare, we’d stop in to Tolteca. They frequently offer a two-for one deal and the kids and himself were kept happy. Then, joy oh joy, they opened a branch in Galway, over on Newcastle road near opposite the hospital and close to NUI Galway. It was good – but not as nice as the one in Dublin, but hey, better than nothing!
Then a few months ago, late in the autumn, we discovered Tuco’s Taqueria, hidden away on upper Abbeygate street, almost immediately opposite Lynch’s Castle cash machines, which incidentally you will need to get in line for as Tuco’s accepts cash only.
. With vibrant chalk board menus hanging on the wall, there are lots of options to choose from. They have six different salsas to tickle your tastebuds, ranging from Cremosa (mild) to Tuco’s Terror (very hot). Now, unlike the little flames on the menu at Papa Rich Asian Street Food Kitchen, where hot means hot, these salsa’s are not going hurt you too much,
The kitchen and service crew seem native, to Mexico that is, and I think this might be the kicker for Tuco’s and why their food tastes so gooood; way more authentic to the other two places.
Take for example, their Carnitas. Slow cooked (100%) Irish Pork ..it is mildly addictive. Actually, I might just go on record here and state that it is totally addictive, and I am addicted to it.
Their burritos, much like all burrito joints, are massive, so go with an appetite if you are putting this Galway gem on your list of places to try. But in saying that, the kids wolf ’em down everytime, loaded with Pinto beans, rice, guacamole (divine), salsa and either chicken, pork or beef.
The Taco’s ( 2 per order) are my favourite. You can get wheat or corn tortillas and different fillings in each.
As with all these eateries in Galway that we find and take time to tell you about, this one was quite well priced too. Lunch, or supper, for 4 pp with soft drinks or water, comes to under forty euros every time.
With a funky interior, and seating for 40 pp (upstairs and down), Tuco’s Taqueria is a very welcome addition to the cheap n’ cheerful side of dining in Galway.
Let me know if you have tried it? Oh, and they also use Deliveroo – so no excuse really. They can drop it to your door in 30 minutes!
That’s all for now guys n’ dolls …
next up .. Kebabs and embracing them whilst sober!
Féile na Tuaithe (the Festival of the Countryside) is happening again this year and you really need to have this on your calendar.
It takes place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May in the National Museum of Country Life outside Castlebar.
This is the National Museum’s largest event, it is the biggest free family festival in the west and is literally a cornucopia of all that’s good and wholesome about country life, food, craft and art.
Entry is free, parking is free, the shuttle bus from Castlebar is free and it’s even on the Greenway so people can cycle there (and safely park their bikes for free).
This year it’s taking a quantum leap forward and literally covering the entire 30 acre grounds.
There are over 100 exhibitors, demonstrators and attractions including:
– the Celtic Tenors
– food demonstrations with an Irish and historical twist by Domini Kemp, Catherine Fulvio and other chefs
– craft village
– food village with some amazing new tastes
– gundogs, birds of prey, farm animals, steam threshers, bee keepers, wood workers …..
The Museum remain true to their ethos and there’s not a hurdy gurdy or a cheap plastic toy stand in sight. There is lots for kids to do though – actually doing stuff rather than just watching things being done.
Well, you would have to have a pretty darn good reason not to attend this one guys n’dolls …
See you there!
Special thanks to Lesley Emerson from PR West who sent me a reminder about this festival and wrote most of the text above in order to encourage me to remind everyone else about this. She is a fab lady and is doing a great job spreading the word about this excellent FREE family-Fun event in Mayo! Tell your friends please x
Funny how the time slips by so fast, isn’t it? One minute you are walking along minding your own business and the next minute you are wham! head over heels in love with a man who is just not that in to you.
Well, at least not until you got him drunk on Irish coffees and kept him that way until he succumbed to your wildly Irish ways.
19 years later … he is still here by my side, cooking and feeding our family with so much more than food.
I have just finished judging the finals of the annual Blog Awards, and honestly, bloggers out there, hats off to you all. The very best part of blogging, aside from meeting lots of new friends right here on this blog and then in real life, is discovering all the new voices and talent behind so many new (and old) Irish blogs.
I had some real favourites this year and I can’t wait to see who cleans up at the awards ceremony in a few weeks. Best of luck to you all!
Now, on to the crux of the matter.
A recipe for these excellent little balls of dough stuffed with even more excellent spoonfuls of shredded Oldefarm pork and vegetables.
- For the buns
- 2¼ tsp dry active yeast
- 240 ml milk
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 700 g flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar/honey
- For the filling
- 450 g shredded (cooked) pork (or could use ground (raw) pork too.
- 250 g shredded cabbage
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tsp grated ginger, fresh
- 2 green onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- First .. for the buns
- Heat the milk and oil in a pot until it is lukewarm. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and let it sit for 8 to 10 minutes – this helps activate it.
- Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bow.. Add the yeast liquid into the flour, mixing with a fork. Once all the liquid has been poured in, knead for 15 seconds until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough – or it will become chewy.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes max. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover, and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- When the dough is almost done with its rise, sauté it all together in a pan the ingredients for the filling — pork, vegetables, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, ginger, green onion and garlic.
- Next, punch down your risen dough. Turn it onto a floured surface again and knead for just a few strokes.
- Cut off a ping pong ball-sized piece of dough and roll into a 3″ diameter flat circle.
- Place about a tablespoon of the pork mixture into the circle and fold the dough up around the filling, pinching and pleating until the top is sealed. It doesn’t have to be perfect
- Place the finished buns on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out as you fold the others.
- Fill a wok (or pot or rice cooker, depending on what you’re using) with about an inch or two of water and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. After the water has begun to simmer, set the basket over the water, covered, and steam for about 15 minutes, or until buns are resilient when touched and the filling inside is cooked.
- Make sure to refill the water between batches, as it will likely evaporate during the boiling. You may also need to adjust the heat to low as the water boils — a low simmer is all you need.
We did lightly pan fry ours right after steaming, in a toasted sesame oil, and served it with a Korean dipping sauce – a staple here at ChezWise … and Jack, our nine-going-on-nineteen son, can make it with ease.
It is delicious. Give it a try.
Korean dipping sauce
When planning a meal around here, the sauce always has a big role to play in the end result. When we come across a sauce loved by the whole family we tend to keep a jar of it on hand in the fridge and that way, when trying to feed a hungry brood in a hurry, there is one less thing to make. This dipping sauce can be used as a favourite sauce served alongside a plate of wontons, poured over a delicious fried rice or noodle dish, or as the perfect accompaniment to seafood pancakes.
What you will need
236 ml [1 cup] soy sauce 129 ml
115 ml [1/2 cup] water
1 Tbsp brown sugar/honey
1 pinch black pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp concentrated vinegar (Essig essence)
2 green onions, chopped
2 chili peppers
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
How to prepare
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Store in the fridge in a jar with a tight seal for weeks on end.
We use this sauce a lot here at home. We have basted roasting chickens with it, dipped dumplings in it and it is also an excellent choice for drizzling over a bit of fresh salmon sashimi if you are fortunate enough to have it on hand.
Anyway … it has not all been a bed of roses guys n’ dolls … and there have even been a few times where neither of us knew which way was up or which country we were headed to next.
But we have hung in there and are still working out our differences – every single day of our version of this wedded bliss. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?
A quick reminder for those of you who have been following along … this is how loaded our special day really is.
September 30th was the day we met, the day we got married, the day we opened our restaurant, the day we brought Jack home to live with us and the day we closed our restaurant right before moving back home to Europe.
We have kept it fairly uneventful since then … but I always have a feeling that something significant will happen on this special day.
Another week awaits us and this one brings a new month rolling in with cooler breezes.
Thanks for tuning in x
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.
Spanish Arch, Galway
(091) 567 865
Earlier this year – the folks from Thai Garden participated in the Galway Food Fest.
Watch their little video here. It is just gorgeous.
If Trip Advisor is anything to go by, and let’s face it, they do have some serious clout when researching restaurants and hotels online, then there is no reason not to put Thai Garden on your list of places to eat next time you are feeling peckish in Galway.
A few weeks ago, after having spent the afternoon Geocaching with the kids, we ended up at Thai Garden for supper. Taking the kids to supper in town is not something we like to do often and there are many reasons for this.
The first being that they are still at a fairly rambunctious age with all four of them ranging in age from 8 – 13. The second reason, already cited in the first, is that there are FOUR of them, and the third reason … possibly the ‘real’ reason we leave them at home, is that they are little savages.
I’m not kidding. That whole ‘encourage your kids to eat everything from a young age’ – what a bad bad idea. You end up having kids sit at a table in a restaurant ordering anything and everything – then eating it all and never given the kids menu a look. This gets expensive. Fast. Multiply it by four and you’ll feel my pain.
They must have felt sorry for us when we arrived as I was trying to hold on to one of the friskier ones by the ear, in order to prevent him from knocking over one of the tables as he tore through the main entrance way of the restaurant right off the Spanish arch, kind of opposite the fast food Mexican joint, Boojum.
As soon as we were seated outdoors – right on the Spanish Arch, they brought us an ice cold bottle of French white wine. Normally I look at the wine label and even glance at the price before sampling … but the sun was shining and the wine, which Tariquet Classic at six euros a glass, was fabulous.
The menu was a little overwhelming to be honest. They first gave us a menu that was like called ‘Gup Glaam’ which just means Thai Tapas and every single one of the items on that sounded delicious. Ron and the kids were getting antsy so he ordered a bunch of items – most of which I never got to try because (a) they were starving and (b) they were all delicious.
I did manage to try the BBQ Shrimp which had a massive amount of white pepper in the sauce and that was interesting, unlike any BBQ sauce I have ever tried actually, and I’m determined to make it at home myself. Ha ha .. no, just kidding. I am determined to get my husband to make it. I will come back to you with a recipe for it though – it was that good.
Chicken wings, Calamari, Summer spring rolls ……….. excellent flavours, fresh and cooked perfectly. Each portion all five euros. Well worth it and I’d even venture to say that this would be plenty for any of the smallies in your family. They were overly cautious on asking us about the spiciness of everything – but we assured them we could all handle the heat. Every bite was seasoned perfectly.
While we were all enjoying our appetizers, the (very attentive) waiter kept coming back asking us for our order. We were intent on just chilling for the evening but I got the impression he could feel the tidal wave of business they were about to get slammed with and he just wanted to get our order in to the kitchen.
We were hemming and hawing quite a bit over what to order and in the end, a little exasperated and I’m sure he would have loved to Reverse Yelp us!, he just asked simply if he should place the order for us. He made a few quick suggestions which included beef, fish, chicken, prawns and the rest of the evening was just glorious.
The above dish, was a family favourite and we will be going back to have this again and again. Fried sea bass with a spicy chili oil. WOW…still licking the fingers here. The only dish we did not care for was the Prawn Pad Thai.
I was sad about this because I love a decent Pad Thai and as far as I am concerned the best on in the city is from Asian Tea house. I think Thai Garden could benefit from popping in to have a bite of theirs and try to improve their own. The noodles were too soggy and the there was no fresh slivers of onions or other fresh veggies and the sauce was just very bland.
But don’t let this stop you from going because everything else was worth going back for.
The service staff were zipping all around the place in fervent fashion by the time we were ready to go, and we fully intending to skip dessert and head home, but the kids were tempted by the fried Banana … yes – it was good, and the frozen orange sorbet – which we are making at home this weekend – because it was just incredible.
So in a nutshell … this is a grand place to go for supper with your loved ones. The folks there are so nice, and have given me a gift certificate to share with our readers. Dinner for two plus wine.
I’m going to ask you to sing for your supper.
A little rhyme please letting me know why you need a little treat. I’m going to pick the winner so make it good!
Thanks for reading along and brace yourself … Schools out for summer!!
Couples who cook
By Móna Wise
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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?”
“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.
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.
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.
I need your help. Click on the image below and vote for Galway – please.
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!
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.
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.
(096) 22 4 00
A few weeks ago … right after I had finished my Winter exams at college, we were invited down to Belleek Castle for a night of fabulous food, wine and companionship.
Their chef, Stephen Lenehan, whom we had met at a Slow Food Mayo event previously, has been the executive chef of Belleek Castle for more than 20 years. If you ever find yourself in Ballina, County Mayo, you really have to put this place on your list. There is no shortage of things to see and do in Mayo.
There is a growing trend in us stumbling upon Chefs in Ireland who like to grow their own food and feed it to their customers. A few years ago, Stepehen had a mighty sized polytunnel installed right outside his kitchen window and he is still shocked at the volume of vegetables he is now producing from this invenstment. Last summer, he actually ended up giving away some of their produce.
The Castle, lets call it a Boutique Castle as it only has a few rooms to offer, is situated in the heart of Ballina town and is deffinelty the best kept secret we have stumbled upon.
Greens from the tunnel are offered on most plates not just as a garnish, but as a comfortable portion, so you don’t feel like all you are getting is meat and potatoes.
In saying that make sure you order the Fillet steak – the presentation is unique and fabulous – think flames and Jameson – tableside. This style of presentationt works excellently well because of the venue. The steak was cooked to perfection and make sure you insist on trying their side dish of potato gratin with a mashed carrot and parsnip mixture sandwiched in the middle … then roasted in the oven. I have had dreams about this dish. So filled with flavours and textures.
Our favourite dish, was so simple – but so memorable – Cashel Blue cheese caviar using tapioca. It was excellent and so unique, perfectly executed and shows imagination. We LOVED this dish.
The portions throughout were perfect size and thankfully not too much at all. This can be a concern when you see tasting menus offered and I always steer clear of them because its just too much food. These guys have a great grasp on balance-on-the-plate, with plenty of choices for even those with the most discerning of tastes.
Paul Doran, the owner of the castle, has shown true taste when assembling the wine list. His educated palate spills out over the Belleek Castle wine list which encompasses a wonderful array of wines ranging from quaffable to sophisticated. The wines we chose (a Pinto Noir from Russian River Valley) and also the Kracher dessert wine, were both outstanding and priced accordinlgly; refreshing to see these days. I highly recommend you stay up to date on the Wine event dinners they have at Belleek throughout the year. You can click on this link here to connect with them on Facebook. They are also the most perfect venue for a wedding … incase you are looking for that very romantic spot.
The service over all – front of the house and in the dining room – was excellent and a credit to whomever runs the training program at Belleek Castle.
As we overnighted, I was a little hesitant to accept an invite to join Stephen and his wife Lily (who is also a chef and works alongside her husband in the kitchens at Belleek Castle) for breakfast because, let’s face it, there are very few hotels that do breakfast well. Imagine, me sitting there fussing because my eggs are overcooked. These guys don’t mess around. They have a breakfast chef who comes in every morning just to take care of the residents at Belleek. First class breakfast and not the boring old Irish breakfast in a buffet set up either.
The scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and selection of brown bread was wonderful. The omelette was nice and light, plenty of flavour and to my surprise and delight the coffee was excellent too. I could tell there were coffee lovers in the house.
The folks at Belleek have given us treat for our readers here at WiseWords. How would you like to get away for a night and enjoy dinner for two, plus bed and breakfast in the beautiful boutique Belleek Castle?
I know we do giveaways on here, and you always think, ‘man, I never win anything’ but this one is different.
I am picking the winner myself instead of using the random selector app.
I want you to leave a comment below, in your most poetic tone, telling me why you want or need this (very romantic) night away at Belleek Castle in County Mayo.
Same rules apply, you must be a WiseWords subscriber in order to be eligble for this giveaway. You can sign up right here.
Best of luck. I’ll be picking the winner on Friday 28th of February, 2014.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
PS – and incase you were wondering .. all of the images used in this post were taken by Paul Doran, the castle owner. I would normally only use my own photos but we were there in the depth of dreary winter and the camera did not capture what I wished to convey.
AND THE WINNER IS …. well desired too I am sure.
Enjoy the break!
This is it… the end of the year.
Typically, at this stage of the game, I like to do a small recap on how things are going – you know, a ‘state of the nation’ kind of update – but I needed to get one last ‘blog’ post out there before all hell breaks loose this weekend. My sister, her husband, and their four kids are descending upon us for the holidays and we might all ‘switch off’ and enjoy the quietness and calmness that comes over all of the kids when they get together every year.
Yep. 8 kids under the age of 13 … quiet and calm.
Needless to say, this might explain why we are moving rapidly on to the subject of Beer.
But not just any old Beer. Real. IRISH.Beer.
You may or may not know this but the Chef & I met in a brewery. I was a radiant young Irish girl working in a bar in northern Kentucky and he was the Chef. There was a strict dating policy in the company – where you could not date your co-workers, so after a few months of cajoling and breaking down his will to stay single, I managed to get him hooked-on-love, and then I fired him. This is a true story. He still holds ill will towards me for this small blip on the radar of our almost 20 years of togetherness.
Aside from that little bump-in-the-road, we both also fell madly and hopelessly in love – with Beer. He was, up to that point, a bit of a mamby-pamby ‘eye-talian’ wine drinker, as he had spent oodles of time working and traveling around Italy – and I was still just not much of a drinker. I’d chance my arm at a Gin & Tonic, or hot whiskey on a cold night, but had no grá for beers or wine at all. I could probably blame my parents for letting us try the shocking bad sips of Blue Nun or Liebfraumilch at Christmas … acid in a bottle guys. Don’t go there.
Anyway, there was this guy named ‘Beer Dave’ (Dave Gausepohl) who worked with us and he taught us everything we needed to know about finding the beer that would suit our tastebuds and how to pair them with food and sell them. I really love Beer Dave – and have never forgotten those lessons.
When we moved back home to Ireland in 2008 – after a brief stint in Switzerland – I was sad and annoyed to see that Guinness and Smithwicks were still ruling the rails at the local pubs and – worse even, my Irish compatriots had developed a taste for Coors Light, Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft.
There was no sign of the massive micro-brewing movement that the US had experienced ever hitting our shores. We were forced to drink Sam Adams and Chimay (which incidentally I have always and still really love both of these) – but I honest-to-gawd hated not buying a local brew at the pub.
THEN – as if by magic, a few good men started making their own beers. Now, we have so many little micro-brewed beers available to us I have actually lost count of them all. I’ll bet there are more than 10 – hey, we are a very small island.
** I stand corrected – Andrew from Beoir just alerted me to the fact that we have now THIRTY breweries on the island. I am not sure if this includes the likes of Guinness et al – but will update ‘all later once I get that ironed out **
What is Beoir?
Beoir is an independent group of consumers with a primary goal of supporting and raising awareness of Ireland’s native independent microbreweries. You can read more about Beoir here. AND if you are a beer lover – you should join their organisation. Its only a tenner. Perfect stocking stuffer methinks!
………and there is more from Sara over at BeerIsland.ie –
We currently have 37 craft brewing brands trading, I believe, but in 2014 we will have about 50 craft brewing business operating on the island of Ireland. There are about 30 new startups launching in 2013-2014, and about 20 more established craft breweries.
…….. Sheeseh – lads, start drinking!
The key thing about these beers and their brewmasters is this: THEY ARE ALL EXCELLENT.
I have put together a small list below of our Top Six Irish Beers – all available at Cases.ie (and even if Peter is sold out of some of them – he can hook you up with a fab mixed case).
If you are wondering what to get a special someone in your life, and you know that they LOVE real Beer – then look no further. The mixed case idea is one of the most delicious treats we have stumbled upon. One small thing to mention here before y’all go complaining that all the hops and barley and grains etc. are not all grown in Ireland (mostly UK and Germany) – well, yes, I know that. So technically, it is Irish made, but the ingredients are not fully Irish. Stop complaining. Life is too short.
Here we go and in no particular order …. because I have all of them in my fridge and can’t wait to crack one open!
With a name like Galway Hooker – you can’t go wrong. This is a gorgeous year-round drinker and is for sure a favourite of so many people in the West.
The two lads that are making this beer have done an excellent job supporting local events, getting their name and their product out there. And now, there beer is available at several locations.
Oh – make me wish for summer and an ice cold bottle of this fair beauty. Dungarvan Brewing company have currently seven beers to offer us and it seems there is no end to their creative juices down in Waterford. Keep ’em coming!
Sometimes, I call ahead and ask restaurants and cafés if they stock this. I kid you not. Gorgeous.
They had gotten a few sample bottles to try and we did not want to go home without them. Full of hops and body. Great personality in every bottle.
These guys, at Eight Degrees brewing down in Cork, nailed it first time around with their ‘Howling Gale’ ale. Always in the fridge here at Chez Wise and especially during the long hot summer months … ha ha … ok, still delicious in the rain. I hear the Aztec Stout is of ‘award winning’ calibre but have yet to try it. Dear Santa ..Beers with attitude indeed.
Another excellent Galway brewery – Galway Bay Brewing Company – now have four excellent beers on offer and as they are making everything in small batches I reckon we will see them branch out soon and be even more adventurous.
And LAST but by no means LEAST I give you … my most recent delicious discovery .. dear Santa … I have been a very good girls this year. A mixed case of White Gypsy Beers for Christmas – oh me – oh my.
The nice thing about these beers – is that they come in a bigger bottle and have a little bit more volume of alcohol – so perfect to share with someone. One bottle is enough.
What we loved about these beers – the Dubell and the stout in particular – is that even a week or ten days later, we are still talking about the beers. They have staying power. The flavours are so concentrated that the first sip is a bit of a shocker and then immediately your mouth starts salivating and you can’t wait for more. They taste like MORE.
How lucky are we – to have all these excellent beers available to us – when just over 5 years ago, ’twas slim pickings.
I know I am always reminding y’all to support your local communities by buying local products, and I am especially going out of my way to help you with your gift giving this year.
You can’t go wrong if you pick and choose from the list above, and if in Galway – pop in to the Salt House to try most of these and a hell of a lot more excellent beers!
Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.
38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 091 562259 (International +35391 562259)
Twitter : www.twitter.com/McCambridges38
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 ..
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.
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.
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.
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.
For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).
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.
Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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