Showing posts with label Galway Hooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Galway Hooker. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sunny Days In Connemara

Sunny Days In Connemara
On the Connemara Loop, near Tully Mountain
Maybe it wasn't sunshine all the way but it felt like it as we enjoyed a couple of days in beautiful Connemara recently. There was that thundery shower as we arrived but the sun came out as we drove from Moycullen over the hills, past a wind-farm, to Spiddal.

A visit to the Craft Centre there is always worthwhile. Revived by a cup of coffee in Builín Blasta, we strolled up the village itself, taking a look at the stained glass in the church before going down to the rocks and the sea and the beaches, all very pleasant in the warm sunshine.

Beaches of Spiddal
We drove along the coast road then, passing TG4 headquarters, close too to the airfield for the Aran Islands, before checking in at Screebe House, our superb base for the next two nights. We had a very warm welcome indeed. The house, renovated a few years back, is situated within yards of the waters and our room had a wonderful view. You may read more about our hotel experience here.


Good views again as we drove over to Kilkieran and the well known Coyne Bar. Great to see a line-up of craft beer taps on the counter and great to sit outside and sip a little of the Cascade by the local Independent Brewing as two young ladies at a nearby table chatted fluently in Irish. More of the same beer after an excellent dinner at Screebe House.

Old graveyard in Spiddal
Day Two found us on the scenic way - a couple of sets of roadworks too! - to Letterfrack and a trip around the bay on a glass bottomed boat. Letterfrack Bay Water Tours give you the chance to see the fish that live on the floor of the bay. The boat has eight glass panels. Despite the best efforts of our skipper, we didn't get to see as much as both he and we had hoped.


But still, there were crabs on the bottom, including a couple of spider crabs scampering away together and lots of starfish who grow quite large around here. The Thornback Ray is common here but hard to find on the day and indeed we were lucky to see the one that did appear!

Pint of Independent's Cascade in Coyne's of Kilkieran
On board, they have lots of examples of the shells of scallops, whelks and so on. Apparently, those scallops can really move when need be. 

The big surprise though was when the skipper reached out the back of the boat and pulled a starfish from an enclosure that we didn’t know about. Had a good look and feel - didn't realise they are so big! By the way, the boat trip gives some lovely views of the surrounding land, including Diamond Hill and the Twelve Bins.


The tour takes an hour and after it (or before it, in our case) you can tour their little museum and modest aquarium nearby (all included in your ticket). This gives you a feel for the maritime history of the area, the shipwrecks (including some from the Spanish Armada), the advances in boats and equipment, how the people lived - there is a butter making churn and an very old Pye radio there. And your tour ticket also entitles you to a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.
Craft village in Spiddal
You also get some friendly tips. And one such set us off on a beautiful local trip around the area of Tully mountain that yielded some spectacular coastal views before eventually bringing us back to Letterfrack. Here, we called to the National Park, not for a walk up Diamond Hill, but for a cup of coffee in the cafe.


By the way, admission to the Park is free and many, Irish and visitors, were taking advantage. I find it hard to understand why there isn't at least a parking charge. I don't think anyone would begrudge paying a few euro towards the upkeep of these lovely places. We came across another, Coole Park near Gort, on the following day.



Sky Road, near Clifden
 From Letterfrack, we headed in the direction of Clifden, all the while looking out for the famous Sky Road. We found that and some more spectacular views on the approach to the well known town. Then we saw signs pointing in the direction of the monument to Clifden founder John D’Arcy. We climbed up there - a short climb but stiff enough - and were rewarded with a great view of the town below and the mountains beyond.


On the road out of Clifden (the N59), there is a spectacular view to your left, a well known one that you’ll see in many photographs and it includes the mountains, the Twelve Bens, large lakes and a stand of evergreens. Think I’ve stopped here at least once on every visit to Connemara.
Clifden, from a nearby hill
A glass of Galway Hooker
in O'Dowd's, Roundstone





Dinner that evening was in the lovely old (1840) pub called O’Dowds in Roundstone, just alongside the harbour from where you have a gorgeous view of the Twelve Bens. Dinner was gorgeous too as you may read below.

A 2014 holiday in Connemara
O'Dowd's Seafood Bar & Restaurant (Roundstone)





Monday, June 13, 2016

O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant. Fish And Forage And On Your Plate

O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant
Dessert
Fish And Forage And On Your Plate


Once upon a time, fish was tolerated once a week, a kind of religious penance, and full of bones. Recent decades though have seen our fish shine on many a home and restaurant table. And our chefs are not stopping at that. Now they’re out foraging, checking the shore for a long overlooked bonanza.

I was recently in O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant alongside the harbour in Roundstone. This long established Connemara venue is one of 32 pubs, north and south, listed in the Michelin ‘Eating out in Pubs’ Guide 2016.
Salmon
No shortage of meat dishes here, curries and pastas too and vegetarian of course, but fish is king.  The results of the foraging can be seen in their starter of Seafood Hummus, a mains of Savoury Rice with Sea Veg, and a sweet of Carrageen Moss Pudding with Plum Compòte and cream.

Three years ago, I was in Connemara and found it quite difficult to get a craft beer. No bother this time. And they have a superb choice in O’Dowd’s with a full menu page detailing mainly local beers including beers by Independent, Galway Hooker, Corrib Brewing, Black Donkey Brewing and Spiddal River Brewing. They had the Galway Hooker Pale Ale on draught and that was my pick.
Turbot
I started with that Seaweed Hummus, featuring locally harvested Dillisk and served with Olive Oil and Nori Bread. Looked great and tasted even better! Delighted with that and across the table CL was making her way through a plate of Stuffed Cashel Bay mussels, grilled and stuffed with garlic butter, breadcrumbs and herbs. Not bad but she knew she was second best at this stage!

Just like the two starters, our two mains came from the Specials Board. Mine were the Pan Fried fillets of Turbot served with the pub’s own (very tasty) Tartare sauce. CL’s pick was the Sweet and Spicy Baked Salmon. We had the usual vegetable choices: Chips and Salad or Mash and Veg. Happy punters at the end of that lot.
Hummus and Nori Bread

Indeed, there were quite a few happy punters around as both the bar and the two-roomed restaurant, while not totally full, was quite busy and with a good turnover between early and later diners, also a good mix of locals and visitors, quite the Bar of Babel.

Dessert, as sometimes happens, was shared. It was that delightful Carrageen Moss Pudding with Plum Compòte and cream, a smooth ending to a very good meal indeed. It is Michelin listed but prices are reasonable enough. For example, the Hummus cost €6.95, the turbot €21.59, the salmon €16.95, the dessert €4.95 and the Hooker was €4.70 a pint.
See also: A 2014 holiday in Connemara
O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant
Roundstone, Connemara, Galway
(095) 35809
Hours
Mon-Sat:
10:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sail Away with a Galway Hooker


Sail Away with a Galway Hooker
Galway Hooker, Irish Pale Ale, 4.3% abv, Hooker Brewery, Roscommon.


Thanks to a recent Twitter competition win, I’m getting the chance to sample some of the craft beers being distributed by Galvin Wines

First on the agenda was the Galway Hooker. This nicely judged balance of malted barley and malted wheat, with the other usual natural ingredients, gives a good rounded body and a fresh feeling in the mouth, smooth rather than sharp.

With its relatively full flavour, this is not just a summer thirst quencher but a beer for all seasons. So, do take the time to savour. Might even go well with a bit of “peasant” grub, something like bacon and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, mussels...

Maybe make up a full dedicated menu as they do in some of the “cidreries” in the Basque Country that I’ve just visited. Start off, say, with a couple of tasty sausages, followed by a big bowl of mussels, a fish course, meat course and dessert, all accompanied by the tasty Hooker!

I had something like that in Hendaye a few weeks back, a string of courses and as much cider as I wanted for about €32.00. If they can do that on the shores of Baie Chingoudy why not on Galway Bay? Maybe even on a hooker!