Tagged with "Irish Food Archives - Wise Words"
Jan 10 2016

Review: Papa Rich Asian Restaurant Galway

Posted by     8 Comments    in Kitchen

Papa Rich

Asian Street Food Kitchen

3 Dalys Place,

Woodquay, Galway.

091 450 147

Serving lunch and dinner 7-days a week from 12:30am – 10:30pm.

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The fun is just beginning when it comes to the constantly evolving world of food in Galway and this new Asian restaurant, Papa Rich, might just be the tip of the iceberg.

We moved back to Galway mid-2008 after a 15 yr stint in the US and a year in Switzerland. When we landed, aside from it being an unusually wet summer, the choices we had when eating out in Galway waned on the edge of well-established tourist traps to a small handful of decent eateries.

It was always easier, cheaper and tastier to eat at home.

Papa Rich Galway

I’d venture to say that now, almost 8 years later, we are just spoiled for choice when it comes to picking our favourite restaurants, bars and cafes. There are even one or two hotels that offer decent grub – and that is practically unheard of!

First though, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ for the little effort that is being made to this section of town? I know Galway is not big enough to have a Chinatown, but if you swing around from Asiatic grocery store over near Sally Longs, all the way down to Papa Rich in Woodquay, you hit a plethora of Asian businesses. If only someone would open a Korean restaurant – we’d be all set!

So where to start with this little gem of a restaurant? Well, there is a story, of course, behind it. And it all starts with us struggling to find a decent Chinese Restaurant. We lucked out with Japanese Food because we have Kappa Ya and every time I want my Sushi fix Wa Cafe is the only place I’d go to … but a decent Chinese takeaway? Not easy at all to find. They all have gloopy corn-syrupy sauces and almost every dish tastes the same. Yeuch.

Needless to say, when we discovered the award winning Asian Tea House, we just stopped looking. To dine in, or carry out, it fits the bill every time. Well, at least it did. But then a few months ago, we noticed a dip in the taste and quality of the food and started to get a little disenchanted with it. So we tried out a new place on the docks, where Bar 8 used to be, called Neo. Also delicious and designed as a carry-out where you can dine in. In other words, everything comes in cute little takeaway boxes and you dump it into a bowl yourself if you decide to dine in.

All well and good, but then less than a few months later, we see the flashing ‘open’ lights of Papa Rich go up and could not wait to taste their wares – only to find out that co-owner and executive chef Kevin, worked previously at both the Asian Tea House and Neo.

Galway is so small guys and dolls. You can taste the difference when a good Chef moves around, and as long as you can keep following the ones you love, then you should have no problems!

Papa Rich

A lot of work has gone into the renovations of this little eatery. Papa Rich is located in Woodquay, above Bar an Chaladh, where Lunares Tapas Restaurant used to be. If you are familiar with McSwiggans, just stand with your back to their main door and look to the left and up a little.

Traipsing up the stairs is enough to whet ones appetite as the smells from the kitchen lead the way into the very comfortably decorated dining room. To get the nitty gritty out of the way, the most expensive item on the menu is ten euros. Yes. €10. So, lets just say, for the leaner months of your wallet, this is a welcome relief to all of us!

With open arms, we are greeted and seated by Rebecca, co-owner with her chef husband Kevin. This gorgeous couple from Malaysia have taken the brave and crazy plunge into entrepreneurship after years of working in the industry for other people.

‘The time was right. We had lived in Limerick for about 15 years and just wanted to do our own thing. We knew Galway was the right choice for us, and once we started looking, we found this spot pretty quickly. It was meant to be” said Rebecca. “Right now, we are in the honeymoon phase and our daughter Ruby, 18 moths old, is spending a lot of time with her Nana (my Mum Rachel) in Limerick. Once things are running smoothly we are looking forward to a nice balance of work and family time!”

Papa Rich’s attentive staff honed in on the tweens immediately, helping answer their menu questions. Rebecca explained that everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen (by her husband Kevin) so it might take a little while longer than traditional Asian restaurants.

We had plenty of time so settled in to our comfortable seats and watched the Saturday lunch crowd fill the 40 ish seat restaurant.

Papa Rich Galway

Now, any restaurant that has a shiny large bottle of Sriracha sauce on the table is going to lure me in, but it also raised an eyebrow. Himself wondered if that meant we had to ‘add our own heat’ which we could say is the norm for a lot of the Asian restaurants here in the west, as many establishments have adapted the menu to suit the tastebuds of the Irish. Note to readers … we did not need it!

The menu has little red flames after each item, alerting the diners to the level of heat they should expect, and once you choose 5-flames (and eat the dish of course) your photo is added to their ‘wall of flame’.

Rebecca rambled off a few specials of the day but it was a unanimous decision – Calamari to liven up the tastebuds.

Papa Rich

As you can see from the photo, there was barely time to take a photo. I often regret bring the kids with me, as they have no patience when it comes to waiting for anyone to take a photo!

The freshness of the Calamari, dredged in breadcrumbs and fried lightly, was sublime and the crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw drizzled with a light coconut and peanut dressing – also delicious.

There were a few referencers to ‘Grandma’ on the menu so we asked Rebecca what that was all about:

“Grandma’s curry, is inspired by Kevin’s grandmother. She is such a good cook. She cooks food and the taste will make memories as Kevin would say! A lot of our dishes are inspired by family recipes, Kevin’s mum, his grandmother, and my mum (Rachel) too, oh and also his grandpa’s recipe for the sauce on the BBQ RIBS, except Kev ads a bit of a sneaky twist to it!”

You gotta love a restaurant that involves the whole family.  Rachel and Kevin live only a short hop from the city centre and her aunt and uncle live nearby too and offer extra support; This is truly a family-run restaurant!

Of the four main courses we ordered, each one was quite unique in the sense that all sauces and broths were very different and we all ‘had’ to share.

Papa Rich

Thai Crispy Chicken with Jasmine Rice and onion slaw w/ homemade sweet child sauce

I am sure you are more interested in the crispy Chicken (above dish), which was gorgeous, but the real winner on the plate here was the onion slaw. We all love raw onions at Chez Wise, but this was unlike any slaw we had ever tasted before. It was a combo of green, white and red onions, with a nice coating (but not smothered) of home-made sweet chili sauce. Now, here’s the thing about sweet Chili sauce.

I.hate.Sweet.Chili.Sauce.

Its like Asian Ketchup – and I also hate ketchup. This had such a unique fresh taste, I was just delighted to scoff down the slaw. And, incase you are worried about the after effects of raw onion (on your breath or otherwise) fear not, there was enough vinegar to treat the onions, so the sharpness had dissipated and all that was left was sweet sweet crunchy yum! I will be asking for the onion slaw on the side next time I go back.

Papa Rich Galway

Dan Dan Noodle Bowl w/ Chicken

Himself had one of the Noodle Bowls, because this was something that is missing from other Asian restaurants in town. They either don’t serve them, or the broth sucks; Not so at Papa Rich.

Minced Pork and Prawn dumplings with Asian greens, Dan Dan noodles and a rich broth makes this the best €10 bowl of yum in town. Sweet mother is was spicy at only 2 flames – this was when we gave each other the happy nod of understanding. These guys are serving and selling their food according to how they think you should eat it. They are not quieting the flavour or flame and woo hoo … it was delicious right to the last fought-over drop!

 

Papa Rich Galway

This Ga Chien Tom

Another dish, which was a huge hit with the kids, was this peanut sauce curry like dish. Battered Prawns, with mixed shredded veg, cherry tomatoes and pineapple all smothered in a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce. There was plate licking going on here lads; I was mortified.

Papa Rich Galway

Like Pho .. but not Pho… but might as well be Pho

I pine for a decent Pho. But again, nowhere in the city is serving a decent bowl of rich broth and noodles … until now that is. When I originally took a look at Papa Rich’s menu, my eyes just stopped right here on this dish and I knew it would be every bit as tasty as I needed it to be. It is not labeled as Pho. It is a Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl … but it’s Pho enough for me!

I chose to have Prawns with the Ho-Fun noodles and it came hopping out of the kitchen .. with Asian greens, mixed veg, plenty of coriander, lime leaf, basil, and mint in a gorgeous rich broth .. and some of their (need to buy some!) garlic chili paste. Oh sweet divine mother I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just bliss. Every bite. Every drop.

Food like this nourishes the heart and soul. Your eyes have feasted on pretty food, the service is attentive and not at all intrusive, and the water bottles were constantly kept full, just incase your choice of ‘flame’ was too brave.

Papa Rich Galway

Selection of desserts

And as if that was not enough, and there is no mention of it on their menu either, we were presented with a sampling of desserts. I, not having a sweet tooth, could not resist the homemade ice-cream with peanuts and oreo crumbs on top. More plate licking followed.

You do not need any excuses to go to Papa Rich for lunch – especially if you are working in town, at NUI Galway, or at the hospital. It’s a short walk in to Woodquay and the lunches are flying out of the kitchen – so tell your friends and co-workers! I can imagine if you were visiting a friend or family member, ill in hospital, that those broth soups would be a welcome relief from hospital food! Please take note, if I am ever in hospital, and you are coming to visit me, this is what I want!

As we were leaving, I noticed one of my work colleagues enjoying a delicious lunch with her hubby and was delighted that word has already gotten out about how excellent this new restaurant really is.

If I have not convinced you, why not check out the comments on Trip Advisor? I am going to put a review up there too … and I rarely do that!

That’s all for now guys and dolls … let me know if you try it out.

WiseMona

 

Nov 23 2015

Shopping for Christmas in Galway

Posted by     6 Comments    in Kitchen

Dear Santa,

All I want this year, is a truly beautiful Galway Christmas.

Sadly, my children no longer believe in you; we never saw it coming.

One minute they were cute, small and believing, and the next thing we knew, they were lanky, long and thieving.

So this year I am requesting a few treats from a few of my favourite Galway shops making our Galway Christmas all the more special. Seeing as we are still planning on honouring the terms of our contract and plan on feeding yourself and the reindeers, I thought I might take advantage of you being none the wiser of the kids sudden state of awareness and ask for a few gorgeous Galway gifts – just for myself and himself this year, seeing as you do not have to blow the budget on the kids anymore! He does, after all, do all the feeding of you and your eight not-so-tiny reindeer.

So first things first … and in case you do not even know where to start … I am just gonna give you my Top Five or Seven Favourites … in no order of importance at all .. you decide Santa .. we have both been very nice (not naughty at all!) this year .. and to be frank, could use a little cheering up.

BEER

Let’s face it Santa. We, in Galway, have come a long long way in craft brewing over the last few years. Only last week I was blogging about the lads over at Galway Hooker Brewing because they have a new beer out that we love – so it’s simple. Please Santa – can we have some more? (Upcoming blog post later this week will be all about making a traditional Swiss Fondue using Beer – making it no longer a Swiss thang … totally giving it the Irish flavour it deserves!).

galway hooker 60 knots IPA christmas

BLING

Yes – this one is for me. Or for any deserving lassies you know Santa. There is this gorgeous little shop at the bottom of town, on the Spanish Arch … called Cobwebs. Santa … it is a treasure trove of wearable history. Sure, they have gorgeous new shiny gems too, but it is the antique pieces that speak to me.

 Cobwebs

BOURBON

Ok – I know, I know. Nothing Irish (or Galwegian) about this one at all, right? Eh, no – wrong – dead wrong. See, Santa, there is a new  bar and restaurant in town, where all the cool kids are hanging out, called Tribeton. And Santa … they have a massive selection of beautiful bourbons. So much so, that a gift certificate to Tribeton would be a total treat for the two of us Bourbon aficionados … t’would remind us our ole Kentucky home – well Cincinnati, Ohio but its on the border like.

Galway Christmas Tribeton

Now, that is not to say that I would not be upset at all with a Gift certificate to our favourite, and in almost everyone’s opinion, the best restaurant in Galway.

Kai

BEAUTIFUL

Right. This one is kinda sorta for me, but I’m a-gonna be honest and tell you if you bestow a gift certificate upon  me for this gorgeous shop, My Granny Likes it, I will most likely re-gift it immediately as I have been forbidden from ever going in there. Santa, they stock everything, and I mean everything from incredibly talented crafty and artsy Irish folk. My most sought after piece right now is a piece by Armagh artist Stephen Farnan .

My re-gifting efforts would not go to waste, as I would post lots of these cute colouring kits to my Irish friends and family, who are dotted all over the world and no doubt, missing the motherland at Christmas. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, but I am still sad that I can’t purchase these on line from this cute little shop –  if you must pop in yourself, you will surely understand why I have been forbidden to go there.

 Irish Artist Granny Likes it

BUTCHER

Now Santa…..I know what you are going to say about this one. Yes. it is true, we do indeed have lots of our own butchered meat in the freezer for the winter. And when we do step outside of our own meat raring, it is to buy Pork (and this year Lamb) from our friends in Tipperary at OldFarm. But on occasion, himself and myself love nothing more than to sit down to a beautiful piece of crimson, marbled with intricate traceries of fat, grass fed beef.

Tormey’s Butcher Shop in the Galway Shopping Centre isthe only place we buy Organic Chickens, beautifully aged grass-fed Rib eye of Beef  and (special order) Veal Chops. And before you go all crazy on me Santa, I am referring to the 35+ week old grass and milk fed Rose Veal, not raised in crates. In response to your concern though, some farmers have adopted more organic, free range operations for raising their calves. Crating is banned in a number of countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, and several states in the US. Sales of free-range veal have increased in recent years, which hopefully will prompt larger producers to change their farming methods.

Galway Christmas Tormeys Butcher

BLUSH

Ok – I know I said I would only give you my Top Five … but I have worked up an unquenchable thirst while working on this list, so thought it best to add in a few of my favourite bottles of wine. We are promised a cold Winter here Santa in Galway. Nothing as cold as the North Pole like, but we are eagerly anticipating a few lovely long weeks of low lights and lazy days intertwined with blazing fires offering up a calmness @ChezWise like never seen before.

So first up for the wine  fridge, how about a bottle of this flawless NZ Pinot Grigio? With it’s signature pale pink blush from the Pinot Grigio grape, we have been known to gift to our friends over the festive season .. and they too love it .. but then we are left with none for ourselves. .. and this makes me sad, Santa.

Another popular bottle of wine which you could happily bestow on us is this gorgeous oaky Sicilian red wine. The native Nero d’Avola grapes with the world travelled Cabernet, brings us a blissful blend.

Both of these wines, along with a massive amount more excellent wines, can be found at Cases Wine Warehouse along the Tuam road.

Cases Wine

BREAK

Last little mention goes to Solaris Teas. Santa, if nothing else, bring some home to Mrs. Claus for  a well earned tea-break!

Solaris Tea Gifts

Right so Santa….. there you have it. A few nice treats for myself and himself … most of which will be shared with our friends and family because we don’t like to eat or drink alone … and because without our friends and family, life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it Santa?

We are gearing up for a lovely Irish Thanksgiving here with our friends and family in Galway this week. We hope, wherever you are in the world, you can take a minute out to offer up a little thanks for your health, your family and your friends.

That is all for now guys n’ dolls …. happy shopping!

 

WiseMóna

 

 

Aug 9 2015

College Prep Cookies for the Gluten intolerant

Posted by     2 Comments    in Kitchen

Ah Cookies Cookies Cookies …. or biscuits depending on where you are from, right?

We have had a fantastic summer despite the fact that the weather has not been great. The kids and their cousins had a nice long run of things in July, and they are welcoming the ‘back to school’ chatter we have started around the house.

Vanilla

Last week, I met up with one of my friends, who is getting ready to send her eldest off to college. She was racing around buying him everything he might need during the day and forcing herself to teach him a few cooking tips and tricks, which he had zero interest in, every evening. She figured, that if she spent the month of August doing that, he might be able to survive without her. As we chatted, and nibbled on a batch of cookies I had just baked, she lamented the fact that she had not taught him enough skills in the kitchen. I sent her home with a recipe for the cookies.

Butter Coconut Oil

No matter how hard we try to prepare kids for moving out of the house and living on their own, even if co-habbing with other students, two things are going to happen.

1. They will survive and not die of starvation because most colleges/universities have canteens, and

2. They will still bring home their dirty laundry and clean out your cupboards when they come home.

Craisins

One thing is for certain, if you are adept at all at making something they really LOVE, then you can be guaranteed they will always come home for their favourite dinner, or dessert.

Nuts

I was thinking about our kids, and how we have at least 7 years before any of them are ready to head off to college, but I am still certain this is one of the treats I will be packing in their bags when they do go.

Rye Barley Oatmeal

If you are releasing a teen into the wild this September, then make up a few batches of this recipe and freeze them. Pack them with clear instructions for your teen then they can impress all their new friends when they whip up a batch of freshly baked cookies on their first weekend away from home.

This is not the time to shed a tear … rejoice in your new found freedom!

Eggs

College Prep Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Simple
Cuisine: Treat
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 24
 

Chewy oatmeal raisin n’ nut cookies
Ingredients
  • 8 oz / 225 g butter
  • 7 oz / 200 g caster sugar
  • 7 oz / 200 g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7.5 oz / 215 g Einkorn or Khorasan Flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 oz / 225 g cranberries (or mixed berries/raisins)
  • 8 oz / 225 g mixed nuts
  • 10 oz / 285 g rolled oats/rye/barley

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars, and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
  4. Now mix in the dried fruit and oats.
  5. Place balls the size of a large walnut onto a greased, non-stick baking tray (remember to allow room for them to spread, so about 9 cookies per baking tray) and cook for about 15 minutes or until verly lightly browned.
  6. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Do not handle while they are hot, or they will crumble.

 

This recipe is the best for chewy Cranberry Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – so if you prefer crunchy cookies, let them cook a little longer at a lower temp. I like to make a double batch every time and I roll and freeze the extra cookie dough in clingfilm and keep it in the freezer for ’emergencies’. Whip it out, leave to thaw for ten minutes, slice and bake. Your friends will be very impressed. You will be very smug and have that ‘oh, it was nothing’ look about you. Well done.

Khorasan Kamut

Now – moving on to the exciting bit of news for those of you who suffer from Coeliacs disease or are Gluten intolerant.

Einkorn

We have been testing a couple of new bags of flour, and by new I mean very very old, here at home. The first one, is called Khorasan (or Kamut) flour and the second one is called Einkorn.

Both are ancient (wheat) grains, and in contrast with more modern forms of wheat, evidence suggests the gliadin protein of Einkorn may not be as toxic to sufferers of coeliacs disease. It has yet to be recommended in any of the GF diets, but I have a feeling this could happen in the next 12 months.  I will not lie to you – we are asking a few GF/Gluten intolerant/Coeliac family members and friends to be our guinea pigs and I will let you know the outcome, but so far so good!

In the meantime, just ask your local Evergreen.ie (in Ireland) or Jovial Foods (in USA) store to order the flour for you. They retail at €5.50 per 1kg bag (ouch) but are so much richer in flavour and texture. You will gladly overlook the price as you smell your cookies baking away in the oven.

Letting go of the kids is, apparently, a hard thing to do. Right now we are in the throes of teenage hell with our two eldest girls and in my mind, sending them off to college would be bliss … and by the time that does happen, I reckon they will be making their own cookies and heck, they are already doing their own laundry so things can only get better, right?

How is your summer going?

Móna x

Aug 2 2015

Review: The Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro, Galway

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The Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro

1 High StreetGalway, Ireland
+353 91 530 000
Wall decor in stairwell at LQB

Nestled on the corner of High Street and Cross Street, directly opposite Tigh Neachtain, sits the intimate Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro. Back in the day, this building was home to one of Galway’s most beautiful lingerie shops, still missed by many, and since their closure several years ago, nothing serious has grasped my attention in that location, until now.

Teeny and tinier are the two rooms they boast; one downstairs seating a handful (14) at deuces and four tops, and the slightly roomier upstairs, which can seat up to 28. An ideal spot for hosting a private party; Christmas is only a few weeks away after all!

We have eaten here several times over the last few months, mostly stolen quiet lunch breaks without the kids, as this place, perhaps because of its size, really lends itself to being one of Galway’s more romantic eateries.

View from upstairs at The Latin Quarter Bistro

Last Monday, the first evening of the Galway races, we had a siblings n’ spouses supper at the Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro, and if this is something you all put on the long finger and rarely plan, then it is time to take the finger out and make a few reservations.

I have found, the more time we spend with our siblings, now that we are all adults, the more we can laugh and cry at just how much fun and hard work this parenting gig really is.

IMG_8823

Our evening got off to a jovial start as glasses of Prosecco  (€7.50 per glass), and a couple of Peronis for the lads, flooded the table before and during our first course , before we selected El Meson Rioja Crianza, 2010, Tempranillo, Spain €29.50, to lead us on to the main courses.


IMG_8816

There were no complaints from all diners, with the exception of one. The salad of warm duck confit (€8), had too much duck and not enough greens. I know this sounds like beggars can’t be choosers, but in our constant effort to find places that serve excellent salads, it is all about finding the right balance, which this dish lacked.

As the water and wine flowed, and appetites waned, we moved on to bigger bites.

IMG_8821

One of the lads had ordered sea scallops with a wedge of fried potato and pea puree. This dish looked the business, and certainly tasted excellent too with one exception. It was served with confit chicken wings too. The wings were placed in between each scallop. Now, even when reading the menu, I questioned the why of pairing fowl with fish, and whilst each item was cooked and seasoned and served perfectly, we all agreed that they had no business being on the same plate together.

IMG_8820

Ron ordered the seafood pasta dish LINGUINI DE LA MER, €19, and enjoyed it. It was not out of this world and could have used a bit more heat, but the pasta was cooked perfectly and seafood was fresh, for a Monday!

All dishes came presented in the most beautiful manner, with smooth and seamless service from one more than competent server who seemed to be handling the upper and lower floors at the same time. The Latin Quarter Bistro showcases the finest of Irish food on a beautiful selection of Steelite (Alumina Vitrified, Performance) Craft line and if you have not swooned or salivated over these dishes as of yet, then take a minute to do so now right here … Dear Santa … sigh

Wall decor in stairwell at LQB

Needless to say, as the evening wore on, and we all settled in for glasses of port and Sheridans Cheese boards, there was no need to wrap things up and move on to another venue. We were happily sated.

Overall, The Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro ranks high on our lists of eateries in Galway. The intimate setting, the excellent service, the carefully thought out wine list, and affordable prices, makes this one we will return to again and again.

Let me know if you decide to try it out, or if you have already been there for a bite?

Thanks for reading,

WiseMóna x

Jul 13 2015

Summer loving and having a blast

IMG_8445

 

You know how it is …. summer holidays kick into high gear at the end of June and before you know it, it is the middle of July and you haven’t stopped for a second to just…………… breathe.

The kids are on high doe as all ‘the cousins’ are here for the next three weeks. To say they are having fun is an understatement. They are all still of the age where so they are happy enough hanging out with their parents and the trampoline has never seen so much action!

They are all getting bigger and bolder and our eldest starts secondary school in September. I’ll tell you, as cliché as it sounds … where does the bloody time go?

IMG_8474

Right now, they are signed up for a month of Tennis lessons. It was so much fun watching them all battle it out on the court today – cousins against the ‘home’ team. They are ferocious competitors but still very much into having FUN while they learn. I can tell, as Friday approaches, their Tennis coach is really looking forward to his two days off!

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Despite a bit of rain here and there, the weather has stayed dry enough for them to play and wet enough to force everyone to take a bit of time out to catch up on summer reading and relax.

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Last week, we had a lovely 4th of July celebration with one of our friends, and also former employee, visiting from USA. We try to always have Americans in the house for July 4th and for Thanksgiving – which falls on November 26th this year – so if you fancy popping over for a visit, start planning now!

 

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We have been spending A LOT of time over at the new park on the Westside of the city. This is one of the best facilities we have on our doorsteps with a running track, a rollerblade path, a fenced in skateboard area, a gated tiny tots playground, a zip line cable, and swings and monkey bars too.

IMG_8522

The hill leading to the climbing apparatuses is covered in a blanket of wildflowers right now and I’m sure there have been many vases of Poppy’s perched on plenty of peoples windowsills these past few weeks.

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Another excellent feature of this park is the weight training machines dotted all along one side of the rollerblade path. I have seen so many people using these machines over the last few months.

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Although we no longer have toddlers, the Tiny Tots playground is well designed too and I have met a host of Mum’s at this park who love the freedom it gives them and their kids to just ‘play’.

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Back at Chez Wise we have ‘cut the crap’ right out of the family diet. About a month ago we decided to just throw any crap sweet treats in the bin and told the kids if we made it/baked it, they could have it, otherwise there would be no treats. This has had an excellent result, with the kids baking more each week and learning how to make their own cordials to mix with sparkling water.

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And finally …. because you might be headed West for a little getaway – there is a few new places in town open for business. The first one, is a cute little French restaurant called Le Petit Pois.

Run by a husband/wife team from Brittany, France, they just opened last week. The 40 seat restaurant is beautifully designed and decorated and I hope they have a very busy summer! Their wine list, and extensive wine knowledge, is well worth the visit for the oenophiles out there.


Version 2

Another FUN place to put on your list is the new bar at the top of Eyre Square called McGettigans. Yes, I know it sounds very twee…. it is a massive global company with several bars dotted all over the world, and their sign out front  is not all that inviting either, but this place is decorated quite nicely.

Plush booths flank the walls downstairs and they offer decent prices on beer and they have the kind of menu that caters to large groups. I was in there just a few days ago and had a gorgeous bowl of chowder n’ ciabatta for €6.50 and tip top service was offered when I visited; I can’t wait to go back for more!


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Ok – that is it for now … I just wanted to check in with y’all to see how your summer is going.

I will be laying low for the next few weeks as my siblings are home for a few weeks, and we are enjoying a bit of family time before my brother’s wedding in a few days.

There is much drinking and dancing to be done!

I hope you are having a fabulous summer wherever you are.

 

WiseMóna x

May 9 2015

Féile na Tuaithe (Festival of the Countryside), Castlebar, Mayo

Posted by     No Comments    in Kids

 

 

Baby Eagle Owl and Grainne

 

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).

 

 

Salmon a leaping

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 …..

 

Art installation Lynn brothers

 

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.

 

Claremorris Strawboy

 

Well, you would have to have a pretty darn good reason not to attend this one guys n’dolls …

See you there!

WiseMóna

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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

 

May 3 2015

Polish shops in Galway. Grocery, Bakery and more!

Posted by     6 Comments    in Kitchen

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There are quite a few Polish shops in Galway. I have popped in and out of most of them, doing the odd price check on a few items but am always that little bit hesitant to go wild and buy lots of stuff, because let’s face it, my Polish sucks.

Several months ago, a friend of ours brought us a box full of Polish Doughnuts to give our kids a sugar high they have still not come down from. She had stopped in to a tiny little Polish bakery called The Little Teapot in the Liosbán shopping centre. (Take first RIGHT after the Ulster Bank).

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So a few weeks later, the Chef, always interested in checking out the competition, popped in to see what they had on offer and he was quite impressed himself. These doughnuts, are a far cry from the Krispy Kremes you might be pining for. As a matter of fact, they aren’t really anything like the traditional sugar-sprinkled doughnuts-with-a-hole you might already love.

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They are pillows of jam (or custard) filled goodness, best eaten fresh from the fryer. This little bakery is worth a visit.

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They have a few tables and chairs, so you can have a cuppa coffee when you go. They have a host of other baked goods on offer too and everything is priced quite affordably.

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Now, seeings as you are in the neighbourhood, right out in front, just a few doors down from the Ulster Bank along the main Tuam road (N-17), you will see a sign for what looks to be just another pizza place in Galway.

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Be adventurous and pop in for lunch or supper sometime. Now, when you walk in the door, you will notice a decent amount of tables and way back in the back, the first thing you are going to spy is the massive Pizza oven and a guy tossing the dough around. Ok – so their pizza is pretty excellent.

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Not quite as good as our favourite Pizza place, or our second favourite pizza place, but definitely worth your time and money. We like to get the large pizza (20″) as they make 3-pizzas-in-one for us and this suits all the tastebuds in our family. Be warned, the Diablo is hot-n-spicy – for real.

BUT the real reason to stop in here for a bite to eat, is the cafeteria style food they are serving in the back. Yes – the harsh glow of the yellow food lamps do not do it justice so I’m a gonna let my words do the work here.

The soup, never the dull-n-dreary ‘veg soup’ we still see in so many Irish eateries, changes on a regular basis but their light creamy broth loaded with al-dente broccoli is just a damn fine soup.

There are a few different sauces lined up to go along with whatever meat you choose as your staple. The choices range from breaded and fried Pork Chops (yes they are excellent), chicken breast pounded thin and smothered in sumptuous mozzarella, and a few other chicken and pork offerings.

Cabbage is a big staple in the Polish diet, but not as we know it. This place, puts on a display of five (possibly more) types of slaw and salads for the taking, and a couple of beetroot salads too. Because they are in Ireland, they are smart enough to keep spuds on the menu, offering mashed and roasties … which were just ok – nothing at all to write home about, but the sauces and gravies they offered alongside were good enough to make up for this. As an example, lunch for two adults, including a glass of their homemade mixed fruit (quite tart) juice offering was just under €20. You can’t beat it with a stick.

Now, I am sure you are wondering, why on earth am I blogging about a middle-of-the-road cafeteria-style restaurant located in the middle of a busy little industrial estate. There is nothing sexy about this right?

Wrong. Since I moved home to Galway (in 2008) the food scene has blossomed and bloomed in the loveliest of ways. Restaurants and cafés have popped up and a few  local and very talented chefs are interested in banding together to promote our city as the food capital of Ireland.

But a few high-end restaurants and over-sharing chefs, does not a strong city food-scene build. John McKenna was chatting with Keith Finnegan on the radio a few weeks back and he said that the reason Galway’s food scene was thriving, was because we had a lot of middle-of-the-road restaurants.

None of us eat dine at the fancy places once a week. When we go out to eat, with our without the brats, we want honest-to-goodness sustenance at a price that will not break the bank and the assurance we don’t have to do the dishes.

Sure, we want local, and more importantly want to see the restaurants support local farmers, but the reality is, middle of the road restaurants are here to stay and most of us love ’em.

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Now, to wrap up my little spiel on the Polish goodness on offer in our little city-by-the-sea, gather up your shoppings bags and head to one of the more recently opened Polo Stores. They are loads of them in Dublin, and according to one of the lassies who works with Ron at Morton’s of Galway, this is one of the best Polish Grocery shops in town.

Polo Stores Galway

Unit 4, Tower House,

Tuam Road. Galway.

(091) 441 – 044

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Now, I know … the packaging and labels are all in Polish, but trust me, that should not stop you from popping in for a look. There are a few things in this shop you need to buy.

Ron asked his co-worker (Marta) to meet us at the Polo Store last week and she gave us a translated tour of the shop. She.was.brilliant.

Right inside the door, the first thing she picked up was a packet of spice powder for a quick (3-day) pickle. Just add water and cucumber.

Right beside that, was a packet of dehydrated beetroot. I have ground this with my mortar and pestle and added it to mayonnaise and yoghurt. Oh-em-gee……delicious and, eh, pink!

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Moving right along the aisles, the question begged ‘why are there over 20 different jars of pickles?’ Well, apparently, aside from a few that have chilis in the jar for a bit of extra heat, the only real difference is the brand label. Just made by a different company – nothing to be afraid of.

Marta’s advice was simple – if in doubt, look at the picture on the packet. For the most part, it tells you what the product is. My personal experience, in all the Polish shops in town, is to just ask for help. Clearly, and if you are a woman you will understand, this is the easiest thing to do. If you are a man however, it is kind of like asking for directions – and you might end up spreading shoe polish on your toast.

Speaking of toast ………

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Sweet jeebus …. this little tub of mushroom paste … on toast, or a cracker, or added into a soup that needs flavour.  Definitely a great addition to a sandwich too.

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Admittedly, we already have bag of chicken hearts in the freezer, but where else would you find this in Galway?

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The frozen plums are perfect for your morning smoothie if that’s the kind of way you roll, but we love to roast ’em with honey and set them atop a bit of ice-cream.

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The green label on the fresh soft cheese packets is low fat and the red is full fat.

Both packets are just excellent in flavour and price, and while you are in the refrigerated section look for little packets of fresh yeast (less than €1 per pack) and their Pork lard is pretty excellent quality too. It’s the makes you want to make a bit of pastry right away kinda-lard.

Ok – so this is the most I can offer on a rainy Sunday morning from Galway this bank holiday weekend. The main thing is to get in there and try something new.

We are headed over to the Claregalway Sunday Market to peruse the goodies on offer this week!

Thanks for stopping in for a read.

WiseMóna

Aug 30 2014

Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned

Posted by     8 Comments    in Kitchen

 

Blackberry Sunrise 2014

My day starts so calmly. The most beautiful sunrises can be experienced in Ireland as soon as Autumn’s first blush occurs. A life-long early bird, I usually stumble out of bed somewhere between half five and six o’clock every morning and assuming there has not been a deluge of rain throughout the night and carried over till dawn … this image above is typical of what greets me daily at that hour. We are noted in these parts for having beautiful sunsets … you have surely heard the song, no?  Well, I think it is high time someone wrote a song about our sunrises too.

Blackberry bush 2

Blackberries have been ripening in our back fields since the last week in July. We have picked and packaged them lovingly in the freezer and have a few more weeks of preserving ahead of us. We will be making chutneys, jams, jellies and lots and lots of pie filling. I think it’s time for a bigger freezer!

Blackberry Cong

We have had an excellent summer. Sure, I was bogged down for several weeks finishing up my thesis for college, but the last few weeks, before the kids went back to school were just bliss. We spent a lot of time traipsing about meeting old and new friends for fun frolics about the countryside and even squeezed in a spot of fishing with family.

Blackberry Beets 2014

Now that the weather has turned, and Autumn is well and truly here to stay, all the colours around me seem richer and filled with flavour. The markets and grocery stores are still heaving and groaning with a bounty of fruit so time to get out and load your shopping basket with it all while it’s still in season. See the next issue of Nuacht Chlair for a gorgeous recipe for a late summer Clafoutis.

Blackberry Clafoutis 2014

Now that you have your ducks in a row and your basket is brimming with berries … I think it is time for a little reward. Earlier today, I shared a photo of a Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned .. and was bombarded with emails and notifications requesting the recipe. Here’s the thing guys and dolls, especially when it comes to drinks … if you taste it and like it, its perfect. Keep that in mind when you foray into the world of lovely libations.

Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned

Makes one drink (but who likes to drink alone?)

Ingredients

2 oz of Bourbon

2 tsp brown sugar or honey (honey dissolves quicker)

1 Tbsp Blackberries, more if you like the fruit

2 dashes of bitters (I love Rhubarb bitters)

2 slices of orange, saving the rest of the orange for juice

Lots of ice

Method

First, macerate the blackberries in the brown sugar. Dump them into a glass and add the slice of orange and muddle it all together. Drop in a few dashes of the bitters, add your Bourbon and stir. Squeeze the remaining orange juice and stir. Taste and adjust sweetness or citrus as desired.

Fill the glass with ice. All the way to the top. Stir and then drink. Use a spoon to eat all the blackberry bits once you get to the bottom of the glass and always, always, always eat the orange slice. It’s chock full of Vitamin C after all.

One small note to make here. This can be made with Irish Whiskey too and it tastes equally delicious but quite different.

And in a few weeks, I’ll be making the exact same drink only with boiling hot water, to ward of any colds or hint of flu that might be threatening and goes hand in hand with the change in the seasons.

Ok … enjoy every bit. If, like me, you have just surveyed back-to-school chaos, you deserve it. And on a parting note … one more photo to help you settle in to your weekend slumber …. just watch the sunset right outside our door.

Blackberry evening sunset Autumn 2014

 

That’s all for now guys and dolls …

WiseMóna

 

Jul 31 2014

Can you cook weeds?

Posted by     2 Comments    in Kitchen

Weeds. They are the most annoying thing, even for gardening experts. Even those with the greenest of thumbs will curse the blasted weeds that – at this time of the year – rule the ridges of the garden or allotment.

Last night I got an email from someone asking questions about the Electric Car we are test driving for Renault Ireland in conjunction with GIY Nation.

Mary from Athlone was asking exactly how much ‘gardening’ has to be accomplished for the 3 month duration of this little competition we are participating in. Mary mentioned I was very fortunate to have a husband who is not only green-thumbed but also very capable of turning all he sows n’ grows into something lovely for supper.

I do like to be reminded on a regular basis how lucky I am, and occasionally I feel like I should remind himself of just how lucky he is. You see – I have a confession to make. I am an absolute nightmare to live with these days.

In the throes of wrapping up a 15,000 word thesis I find myself waging a war with procrastination (hence the excess blogging). I have resorted to extreme measures here guys and dolls – I am sewing. Like, buttons on shorts, darning socks, holes in t-shirts that should be tossed but there are ‘my favourite shirt maaaawwwwmmmm’ … hows that for avoidance?

It is like the last five years of learning how to write and then learning how to be a journalist all comes down to this last bit of writing …. and I’m as blocked as a port-let at the races.

Today, he just got home from work and is, bless his lovely cotton socks that have been bleached white and darned perfectly, going to take the kids to the park to fly their kites … far far away from me and my laptop.

In an effort to show my appreciation of his willingness to give me a few hours of quite ‘writing’ time … I pottered about the kitchen this morning and made a late lunch for everyone.

Nettles 1

This might seem strange that I am even mentioning it .. but truth be told, I’ve done very little cooking these past few months as I have been buried alive in books and newspapers and writing assignments ….

Jack, aged 9: “Mom, can you even cook?” and a slight look of worry overcoming his always hungry little face.

Lulu: “Are you cooking weeds?”

The thing is …. I’m a shocking bad gardener. I do excel in weeding and lawn mowing skills though. But when it comes to green thumbing it .. well, all I usually have to do with the plant or seed in question is ‘get involved’ and it will surely meet its untimely demise.

So now that we have a few GIY projects on the hop, I am finding that I have to work closely with the kids and having a gardner advising us … is no bloody fun. He is also certain I will kill his vegetables.

Today I decided to cook my weeds for our lunch. Just to show that even if I do unavoidably kill all our growing projects….I can still feed the kids a nourishing lunch.

Nettles 2

Nettles are so easy to cook. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a teaspoon of salt. Dump nettles into the pot and turn the stove off. Leave for ten minutes. Strain into a colander and remove the largest pieces of the (now softened) stems.

Chop the nettles roughly then add butter, salt and black pepper.

Nettles 3

Now, while this is lovely on its own just like this … I suggest if you are trying to get your kiddos to ingest it, best to add it to the mashed potatoes. They will eat it, they will love it and they will all be back looking for more.

Nettles 4

When I was plating up our lunch earlier today I had trouble making everything look good on the plate and I am a firm believe that if it looks like you made an effort then the complaints from the peanut gallery will be less … so I had slow cooked Pork, which was brown and slathered in a green marinade (horseradish leaves, leek stems, garlic, parsley, nettles) which had turned a dirty looking black green …

Pears cabbage

The cabbage, pears and onions I had cooked earlier too, as a side dish, looks gorgeous when you start off the cooking process, but the reason it is so good (just sautéed onions, cabbage and slices of pears in a little olive oil, salt and pepper) is that once it starts to sizzle on the pan you turn the heat down, cover it and let it cook down to nothing … it even caramelises a bit.

Pears Cabbage slices

But then it goes from looking lovely (like the above) to turning, you guessed it, brown.

So, I had a lot of brown on the plate and was sure, due to the lack of salad on the plate, that the Chefs discerning eye(brow) would be raised .. happy and all as he might be that I had made the effort to cook for him.

So I worked a little harder …

Nettles 5

It reminded me of a couple of blog posts (or maybe Tweets) I had seen a few months back from another busy Mum (Sineád over at Bumbles of Rice). She called them #Barefaced dinners and it shed light on what she served her family for supper every night for a few weeks.

I know from personal experience impression that (as a food blogger) many readers presume us to be eating gourmet food every night. So she uploaded her week of evening meals in photos and encouraged her readers and fans on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun. At the time I was unable to join in the fun because of a shoddy internet connection … but I have since followed up and read the blog posts.

Food is huge part of our WiseWorld here in Galway. We grow it, raise it, chase it, kill it, cook it and eat it and then we do it all over again. While I do have a chef-in-residence to do the cooking, the flood of photos in my Instagram feed is what sustains us … and I am the one that takes the time to arrange it on the plate…and trust me … I spend very little time arranging.

OK – back to the sewing Thesis writing … and I’m sure I’ll be back soon again as I still have 15 more days to procrastinate!

WiseMóna

PS – in an effort to be truly #barefaced here … Ron decided against the park and kite flying plan because he did not want to fight any #raceweek traffic, so he stayed at home all afternoon with the kids and I have been banging my head against the wall trying to get a bit of peace and quiet around here. Best laid plans and all that ….

Jul 4 2014

‘SOMM’ at Galway Film Fleadh. Oenophiles take note – two tickets up for grabs!

Posted by     10 Comments    in Kitchen

I am not even going to try to hide the fact that this is a press release down below.

If you are wondering which movie you should go see during the Galway Film Fleadh .. this one is right up your alley if you are working in the service industry or just happen to enjoy your wine. Read all about it … then as long as you abide by the rules down below you can enter a drawing to win TWO TICKETS to see the movie AND thanks to our good friend Peter Boland at Cases Wine Warehouse over on the Tuam Road in Galway, you also will get to drink the wines. Perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening methinks!

I know … I know … I know …. another giveaway … Galway peeps … we love ya …

Galway Film Fleadh

‘Somm Night’: Wine tasting with Master Sommeliers at Galway Film Fleadh

 

The 26th Galway Film Fleadh, in association with wine merchants Cases Wine Warehouse, are delighted to present an innovative sensory screening of Somm, a unique documentary which takes the viewer on a humorous, emotional and illuminating look into a mysterious world—the Court of Master Sommeliers and the massively intimidating Master Sommelier Exam. This will be the first festival screening of Somm in Ireland.

SOMM_Brian_McClintic

On Wednesday 9th July at 8pm, ticket-holders will sample wines as they are discussed on the screen, in the Veranda Lounge of the Radisson Blu Hotel. The screening will be preceded by a brief introduction to the wines from Peter Boland of Cases. Somm has won multiple film festival awards and all the wines set for tasting are top-end examples of their style so the night should prove a thrilling experience for wine lovers and film buffs alike.

SOMM_Dustin_Wilson 1

Somm is the story of four friends attempting to conquer an exam with a failure rate of 90% – the prestigious Master Sommelier Exam. This is a test that can cover literally anything to do with the entire world of wine and that’s only the beginning of the challenge! In over fifty years, fewer than two hundred people have ever earned the title of Master and the ones who succeed have risked their personal lives, their wellbeing, and often their sanity to achieve this feat. Known for its secrecy, access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam until now.

Tickets are €30 including wines. Spaces are limited so early booking is recommended. Further information and ticket booking is available at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.

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AND – the very (very) generous Peter Boland from Cases Wine Warehouse has just given me TWO TICKETS to offer our readers for this event next Wednesday, July 9th, 2014.

Throw your name in the hat by leaving a comment below … the usual rules apply:

1.    You must be a registered reader of our blog – signup here for that and

2.    Tell me why you want to come see this movie

3.   AND also tell me … where is Cases Wine Warehouse?

I will pick the winner at random on Sunday evening (July 6th) … and that will give you enough time to get your ducks in a row.

Thats it for now folks … may the 4th be with you … sorry … could not resist …’tis the 4th of July after all!

WiseMóna

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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