Showing posts with label Sligo Food Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sligo Food Trail. Show all posts

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sligo Cafés. Variety is the Spice

Sligo Cafés. 
Variety is the Spice 
Naanwich
Vegan friendly dishes at the Sweet Beat in Bridge Street. A Naanwich and Leitrim roasted coffee at The Nook in rural Collooney. Chocolate and French Baking at Le Fournil in Tobergal Lane. Oysters and Prosecco at WB’s in Stephen Street. Just a few examples from the lively café scene in and around Sligo.

Growing up in Brittany, Clotilde (known in Sligo as Clo and I read somewhere her Friday doughnuts are Clonuts), saw just how important bread was in their lives so no big surprise that she and her partner Tomasz Giderewicz run Le Fournil bakery in Sligo. There is also a related Le Fournil in Donegal.
Le Fournil. Including Friday's "Clonuts"

A sweet tooth led Clo to pastries and chocolate and indeed she won two Bronze at the recent Blas Awards. She has a fiercely loyal staff and they told me in no uncertain terms that it should have been two golds! We did, of course, leave “this little corner of France” with some chocolate. If Clo “wandered” in to Sligo, some of the other café owners here wandered out, for a spell.

Sligo Food Trails neatly sums up Carolanne Rushe of Sweet Beat. “The grass will never grow under Carolanne’s feet (though if it did, she’d probably turn it into a pesto)….. Going from running a market stall on her own to employing fifteen in Sweet Beat in just two short years, Carolanne is proving that plant based cuisine can taste great.” Coffee is pretty good there too as I found out on a brief visit to Bridge Street.

It seems that many in the Sligo food scene have been abroad (not just on holidays) and Carolanne is no exception. She’s been to the Middle East, Himalayas, Australia, South Africa. An extended course in Ballymaloe helped her bring all her food knowledge together and now Sweet Beat is a revelation, even for many committed meat eaters. She describes her plant based cuisine as “just food that’s good for you”.

Aisling Kelly is another Sligo “wanderer”, having spent many years on America's West Coast. Back in Ireland she became involved in the travel industry before returning home to Sligo to open WB’s in the old family pub. A larger than life statue of WB Yeats stands a few yards away.

She had learned much about coffee on the US West Coast and now makes sure that coffee culture is alive and well on Ireland’s West Coast. They also have an unusual offering. For under a tenner, you may enjoy a couple of local oysters and a glass of Prosecco.

Ethna Reynolds, of the Nook Cafe in Collooney village, is another who wandered out, not so much from Sligo, but from her native Leitrim. But the food bug had already struck through her part-time work in cafés in her student days. Several years travelling around Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and working in different types of kitchens helped to further mould the budding chef.
Curry Roll

And indeed those years led to the slightly exotic cuisine at The Nook where the best of local produce gets a Reynolds twist. The signature dish is perhaps the Naanwich. “We can change the menu and we do, but we can never take that one off,” one of the staff told us on our visit there for lunch.

CL picked that one. So what is the Naanwich?  A soft folded Naan bread with a Tandoori spiced mouth watering filling of Donegal buttermilk chicken, tikka mayo, house local veg pickle, local grown salad and slaw. A plateful of colour and flavour, altogether delicious, at a very reasonable price.

My pick was the Curry Roll and I was surprised by both the quantity and the quality! It’s a Tortilla wrap stuffed with curried roast chicken, Dozio’s Chilli Zing Cheese (from Mayo), Mango Chutney, Red Cabbage Slaw, Markree Farm herb tossed couscous, paprika fries. You’d have to be palate paralysed not to appreciate the flavours here. An amazing dish (€11.00) to find in a small rural village. 

No wonder though that the new venture (May 2016) is well supported and already winning awards (including Georgina Campbell Newcomer of the Year 2017). By the way, they do breakfast here as well.

There are, of course, many other cafes in Sligo, and you may check them out here on this Sligo Food Trail list.

We had a great base in the Riverside Hotel, so conveniently situated for walking to the cafes, bars and restaurants in Sligo town. It has a marvellous location on the Garavogue River, at 50.7 kms, one of Ireland's shortest. The hotel overlooks the weir. 

The lovely restaurant room, where you also take breakfast, takes full advantage of the location and you can enjoy the waters on two sides. As I say, a really convenient location and we were able to walk to bars such as the Swagman and Anderson's, cafes like WB's and Sweet Beat, and restaurants Rugatino and Embassy Steakhouse.


See also: Lough Gill Brewery
 Strandhill Food Festival





Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Last in Strandhill. Food Festival and more!

Saturday Last in Strandhill

Food Festival and more!

There is a weekly market in Strandhill but last Saturday was a bit special as the County Sligo resort held its inaugural Food Festival. It wasn't the best of mornings but the vast majority of the stands were under the substantial cover of Hangar No. 1, while a series of demos were held in the airport terminal building.

We had a arrived a couple of hours earlier to sample the local Voya Seaweed Baths that overlook the ocean where a surfing lesson was in progress. VOYA Seaweed Baths and organic treatments are especially recommended for those who are over worked, stressed or simply seeking an effective natural detoxifying process for the skin. Not too sure that any of those applied but I was keen to try it out.

A big welcome and then we were shown to our double bath room, the steam cabins and the baths all ready. We were warned to drink plenty of water over the next forty minutes or so and we did as we relaxed in the hot water under the seaweed, immediately feeling the oils on the skin. Good for the hair, they said. So it tried that! No miracles yet. But it was indeed a very relaxing hour.

Then, with body temperature back to normal, we headed off to the nearby airport whose car park provided ample space for the many visitors throughout the day.  On entering, you immediately noticed the colours of the improvised decor, the music (different artists from time to time) and the many and varied stalls. The large industrials space had been turned into an indoor village square.

There weren't that many primary producers there but there was no shortage of food to eat and there were many tables scattered around. But what to eat? Hawaiian Pokés? Korean Burritos? Shells Cafe were offering temptations that included Smoked Mackerel Bap and Duck Confit Burger.

So you want to know what is a Hawaiian Poké? Well it’s mainly rice and tuna and fruit and sauce. You could take one of those offered on the menu or build your own as you can see from the photo (at bottom). 

Must admit I liked the look of Joy Kitchen, particularly their Tikka Masala, and, after a second walkabout, that was the pick, a very flavoursome one as it turned out. Something sweet? Why not? The Black Sheep bakery stand was certainly busy, always a good sign. “All baked in the one oven,” said a smiling Sarah Elvey. All baked well if the two pastries we had were anything to go by!

No shortage of drinks either, including coffee from a truck, wines by the local Draft House and beer by Sligo’s White Hag. The most striking drink though was apple juice! Yes indeed, freshly squeezed apple juice from the Organic Centre.

Not too much produce that you could buy and bring home with you but we did spot some interesting bits, at the Sweet Beat stand where we met owner Carolanne Rushe. We had visited her cafe in Bridge Street in Sligo the day before and she was to do one of the cooking demos later in the afternoon.

Sweet Beat had a selection of their gut loving plant-based ferments, featuring tons of local organic produce.. from Kimchi, Sauerkraut + Kombucha to their Apple Cider Vinegar + Fermented Cashew Cheesecakes.. and were also serving up some tasty dishes all day long. Their Super Kale Pesto (with activated almonds) caught my eye and made it all the way to Cork.

Unfortunately we didn't have time for all the demos. I would have liked to have seen Prannie Rhatigan but by then we were on our way to another visit at the other side of Sligo. 

That demo stage was in the terminal building and here too the kids were kept happy with puppets, storytelling, and clowns. The festival started at noon and was scheduled to finish at eight in the evening but I did hear of at least one stall-holder who didn't leave until after ten. A long day then but a worthwhile one.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!). Focus on quality and consistency.

Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!)
Focus on quality and consistency.


It’s a Friday evening and I am sitting in a classy new bar, Anderson’s, on the banks of the Garavogue in Sligo, on an ale "pilgrimage".

Back in the 1800s, Anderson’s Ale was the most popular beer in Connacht and the family owned three breweries in the province, one of them housed in this very building. The story makes my pint of Anderson’s Ale all the tastier!

The new Anderson’s Ale is produced by a new family micro brewery, the Lough Gill. And, that morning, James Ward told me that they  (he and wife Valerie) went back to the region’s roots to brew a traditional Irish ale that is their interpretation of what was originally produced. “It opened the door for us.”
Anderson's, once a brewery, now a smart pub

While Lough Gill’s initial beer looked to the past, their production now looks to the future and James sees that future in cans and in America. Their beers are geared towards the US market and their eye-catching can labels are designed by a US artist. Indeed, their brewer Tony Wickham is a Lakota Sioux from Montana.

You get the drift once you sample their Mac Nutty, a nut brown ale (with toasted macadamia nuts), similar to Newcastle Brown Ale that you may have seen in a one pint bottle. Mac Nutty is one of their regular beers and exported to the US where Lough Gill is established in New York State and Massachusetts.

The water, and the name, come from nearby Lough Gill and that was also the name of the old brewery. It is not the first brewery for James and wife Valerie. Their initial venture, the White Hag, was the first brewery in Sligo for the best part of a century. After a couple of years, he sold it to its investor group and launched Lough Gill, with Anderson’s Ale, just last November.



Now they make quite an array of beers, lots of bold flavours and tastes here, including their Round the Clock stout; recommended for breakfast as it has Flahavan’s Oatmeal included!

They mill everything on site here. “We crack it open, it’s fresh. Our focus is on quality and consistency.” Irish malts are used for all their basic beers while specially malts are sourced in Belgium.

He took us through the process. By the way, this is a steam operated brewery, a better boil, better beer. After the usual mash tun, kettle, the more unusual whirlpool, the cooling, it goes into the tank and fresh yeast is added. “We use live yeast, makes for a better product. When we make our Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout, the yeast goes crazy. At 11%, this stout is the strongest in Ireland.”
In Lough Gill with James (left) and brewer Tony (right)

Their four core beers are: the Mac Nutty nut brown ale, the Round the Clock stout, the Heinoweiser IPA, and the Thieving Bastards Pale ale; some of the names are a finger up to the bigger brands. The stout and the brown ale are both exported. In addition, there is the Rebel Stout Series, the Irish Punch Up Series (which has started with a  barley wine), and the Irish Wild Atlantic series (sours).

“Sour is huge in the US. We have a sour wheat beer, a Wild Rosé Ale, an Imperial Peach Sour and a Cherry sour is coming soon.” And coming soon too will be their Mead.

Didn't know they had a Meadery here when I arrived but enjoyed a taste from the tank and can confirm that Tony’s Mead is a very different take indeed. James told me that it is the oldest drink in the world, “made by women and the drink of legends”. Tony has made mead in the states where it is quite popular. And James reckons that the far east, especially Japan and China, will prove likely markets.

Amazing energy and innovation here. Must be in that Lough Gill water. Maybe in some other local liquid. Best of luck to the team here as they take Sligo brewing on to the world stage.

* That same evening, Lough Gill was awarded Best New Sligo Business 2017. James: “We have yet to reach our 1st anniversary brew day and we are extremely delighted to receive this award at such an early stage in our business.” Great to get honoured in your home town.

See also: Strandhill Food Festival
Sligo Cafés

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Taste the Sea, Sligo Food Trail

media release



Sligo Food Trail celebrates the Wild Atlantic Way
Launch of new video ‘Taste the Sea’
“Success breeds success” according to the old adage, and that certainly seems to be true for Sligo Food Trail who are shining a bright light on quality food in the county. The latest venture by this proactive group is a video entitled ‘Taste the Sea’ highlighting their many members along the Wild Atlantic Way and celebrating their food connections with the sea itself. Much of Sligo lies within easy reach of the coast and even the origins of the county name itself (derived from ‘Sligeach’ meaning ‘a shelly place’) hint at the historic links with the Atlantic.
Taste the Sea showcases Ireland’s Earliest Takeaway, a seashore exploration with archaeologist Auriel Robinson and mussel tasting experience on the seashore with Tra Ban Restaurant, oyster tasting from Sligo Bay with Wild Atlantic Oysters, a visit to award winning restaurant Eithna’s By the Sea in Mullaghmore and the inimitable Sushi Sisters with their delicious street food stall at Strandhill People’s Market. The interactive Food Experiences are a keystone of Sligo Food Trail’s offering combining activities and food. They encourage people to truly engage with the wonderful landscape giving just a taste of the delicious seafood on offer and making the Trail a really memorable part of their holiday.
“We’re thrilled to launch ‘Taste the Sea’ just in time for the tourist season. Video is proven as an effective way to reach visitors, showcasing our wonderful county around the world”, said Anthony Gray, Chairman of Sligo Food Trail, “Many of our members are along the Wild Atlantic Way and this video highlights them as well as some of the more than 30 popular Food Experiences which we have developed”.
The short, engaging video is one of a series of four Sligo Food Trail are making, featuring lively background music, from local group Moxie. The next in the series will be launched shortly and the entire series will be available on the website, on social media and through member websites.
Sligo Food Trail experiences are available for adults and families, and sometimes just for the younger foodies like the pizza making workshop for kids. Discover the superfood that is seaweed with an expert guide Dr. Prannie Rhatigan– and learn how to harvest and cook with it too.  There really is something for everyone from dining in the dark to whiskey, wine or craft beer tastings, tasting tours and from surfing and SUPping to foraging on the seashore or inland. Some Experiences are just an hour long, others a full day and several involve overnight accommodation – along with a tour of a deer farm or a chance to find your inner shepherd. Go into the wild outdoors in the caves or megalithic tombs of the Ox Mountains or whet your appetite for adventure, paddling on Lough Talt. Stay indoors and try bread making, a fermentation or jam making workshop. Or sit back, relax and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in style. They’re really worth checking out.
Eithna O'Sullivan
The 70+ Sligo Food Trail members are an exciting mix of producers, markets, cafes, restaurants, craft beer, gastro pubs and accommodation scattered all around the county. Many are on the Wild Atlantic Way and others draw visitors inland to discover less known areas of this lovely and fascinating county. Since the Trail was launched just over a year ago, a steady stream of awards has been won by different members.
Information on Sligo Food Trail is readily available through the website (www.sligofoodtrail.ie), social media and an attractive printed map/brochure combination which is available in the Fáilte Ireland Tourist Information Offices as well as from members.
The project is funded by CEDRA, Dept. of Agriculture, Sligo County Council, LEO Sligo, Food Trail Members, Fáilte Ireland and Sligo Tourism Ltd.
www.sligofoodtrail.ie