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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Taste of the Week A Sheridan’s Cheese and Jam Double


Taste of the Week
A Sheridan’s Double

Sheridan’s get the credit for our current Taste of the Week. It’s a double and features one product bought in their Galway store during a recent visit to the City of the Tribes and another product bought in Bradley’s of Cork but distributed by Sheridan’s.

The product from Bradley’s is a semi-circle of Cashel Blue made, as always, by the Grubb family in Tipperary, but selected, matured and distributed by Sheridan’s.

So there I was one lunchtime with that Cashel Blue at hand and wondering how I’d enhance it. And then I remembered being served Black Cherry jam with sheep’s cheese in the Basque Country. I had the very thing in the cupboard: a big pot of artisan made Confiture Cerise Noire (my purchase from Sheridan's).



A perfect pairing and a delicious Taste of the Week. Lots of that jam left, so it looks as if I’ll be heading to Bradley’s for more cheese. Indeed, I may well also keep an eye out for that new hard sheeps cheese by Velvet Cloud.

By the way, I also found another match for the cheese, a bottle of Gerard Bertrand’s Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (from O’Brien’s Wine). Not the whole bottle, mind you, a little sip will do! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Getaway to the City of the Tribes. Two Days in Galway.


Getaway to the City of the Tribes. 
Two Days in Galway.
Banners of the tribes

Galway city centre is compact and it is often packed. Finding parking can be a problem so we’re happy when our guesthouse suggests we park there on College Road and stroll into the centre even though we arrive well before the given check-in time. 


Eight minutes after leaving the car we arrive in sunny Eyre Square, so sunny in fact that people are seeking shade. A group of French students have gathered under one particular tree and have squeezed into the roughly circular shadow underneath.
Wine bottles in museum

The sun is at its high peak, signalling time for lunch. We exit the square and head for the pedestrian area, amble right down to the Spanish Arch and a lovely restaurant, simply called Kitchen, attached to the Galway City Museum. Enjoyed the meal here

Later we take a walk by the waters and find our own patch of shade for a siesta of sorts before heading back to the museum. Opened in 2006, and still a work in progress, the museum proclaims itself as a “collecting museum”. So you see many objects associated with the area, some donated by locals and friends (not mutually exclusive) and quite a few shared by the National Museum. 
Galway Hookers in the museum - not the life size one!

There are six main headings: Prehistoric, Medieval and Post medieval, World War 1, The 1916 Rising and aftermath, Pádraic Ó’Conaire, 19th and 20th Century Galway. Objects include some beautiful old wine bottles (probably 17th century). Galway had a shell factory during the Great War and there is a shell on display here.  You’ll also see some old clay tobacco pipes (dúidíns). 

In the mid 1960s, Galway won three All-Ireland football titles in a row and that feat is enthusiastically celebrated. The bigger items include an Ó’Conaire statue and the biggest is what looks like a full size replica of a Galway Hooker. No, not a pint of the local brew, but the famous work-boat of the area. Admission is free. Details here.  
Rear of the restaurant Ard Bia at Nimmo's

After that, we retraced our steps, more or less, under the Spanish Arch, up through Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street, shuffling along with and against the other pedestrians, listening to and looking at the various buskers and street entertainers, and finding ourselves back in Eyre Square. We had a seen an illustration of the Tribes of Galway in the museum and in the square they are commemorated with a series of large banners.

The tribes were the families that effectively ran the city from the 15th to the 17th centuries. They were: Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerret. In 1493, the mayor and magistrate of Galway James Lynch FitzStephen, condemned and hanged his own son, an incident that is quoted as giving rise to the term “lynching”. The building, Lynch’s Castle, still exists and is now used by AIB. 
Students in the shade

Fishery Watchtower
Later we were back in the city centre for dinner at the Michelin starred Aniar, details here,  and then it was time for a night at our excellent base, the Ardawn House. Here, we had everything we needed, including that private parking!

Mike and Breda are exceptional hosts, always willing to go that extra mile, so that their guests enjoy themselves, not just while they’re in the house, but also when they go out and about during the day. Nothing is a problem here - they’ll give you all the local information you’ll need but in such a way that it’s your choice. In other words, they’ll give you the info but won't force their opinions on you. And, by the way, you’ll also have an excellent breakfast before you’ll leave their friendly place.

On the second day, we visited the very small fisheries museum, tracing the fishery story from 1283, in a restored Fishery Watchtower at Druid Lane. 

The highlight though was our cruise on the Corrib Princess. You join the boat in the Woodquay area and head up-river passing the cathedral, the university campus, a couple of castle ruins (Terryland and the more impressive Menlo), before reaching the impressively expansive Lough Corrib, the biggest lake in the republic. It is a very pleasant trip, especially in the exceptional sunshine, and out and back takes about 90 minutes.

We had lunch earlier, and a very nice one too, at McCambridge’s, a Galway icon, details here.
And later, we called in to Sheridan’s, the famous cheese mongers and picked up a few bits and pieces, cheese not so much as most of it is available in Cork. 

Dinner would be at the King’s Head Bistro, a delicious meal based on local produce including fish of course. And we then adjourned to the lively King's Head bar in a medieval building, But nothing medieval about the food and drink here, lots of craft drinks (including Galway Hooker), cocktails galore, music (after the World Cup game) and lots of craic. Read about it here. A terrific evening to remember a terrific visit by. Slán go fóill!



SUP: On the Corrib river, and below


Menloe Castle ruins



Monday, July 16, 2018

McCambridges. A Galway Icon.

McCambridges. A Galway Icon.

Ask anyone from Galway where’s best for lunch and you can be sure that city centre McCambridge’s, operating since the 1920s, will appear on the shortlist. This busy spot keeps the standards high and the customers keep coming back.

Spread over the space of two shops, McCambridge’s is basically operating on two levels. Downstairs it is mainly a Food Hall with a full grocery range (mainly local produce),  a large sandwich bar, a self serve salad bar and olive bar, a deli counter stocking the best of cold meats and cheese, a well stocked wine and spirits section and a full coffee bar.
Some sandwich!

There are a few tables and chairs on the street outside for when the sun shines, but mostly the restaurant operates in the spacious and bright room at the top of the wide stairs. Here, if you are lucky enough to have a seat near the windows, you can watch the bustle of the city while enjoying a glass of wine. 

Only the finest of  ingredients are used, with a strong preference for local and artisan produce. It is a casual atmosphere with great food.  An All Day Menu is served from Monday to Saturday, with an All Day Brunch being served every Sunday.  You can also enjoy a wide range of wines, craft beers and cocktails with your food.

We are spotted as we reach the last few steps of the stairs and quickly directed, with smiles and courtesy, to our table. The menu is soon at hand. The place is busy but the service is good. I’m looking at the Ceapairí, that’s sandwiches for you non-gaelgeorí, little knowing that the one I pick will be a champion, one of the best ever.

Here is the mix: McCambridge’s Baked Ham, Janet’s Country Fayre Beetroot Blush Mayo, Coolatin Cheddar, and red onion served on a toasted Roundstone sourdough (9.95). Nothing very mysterious there but all good quality ingredients all together in a superb sandwich.

The OBC is not looking for anything big today so settles for something from the starters: Chicken Liver Paté, McCambridge’s Red Onion marmalade and toasted brioche (5.95), plus a side of leaves (3.95). Happy enough with that. By the way, you may buy quite a few of these ingredients downstairs in the deli.
In the deli

A pot of Campbells Tea and a glass of Sparkling Elderflower (dear enough at 3.95) brought the total to €26.30. Soon we joined the throng in the pedestrianised Shop Street outside, the buskers playing, onlookers delaying, and made our way down to the fresh air in the Nimmo’s area.

38/39 Shop Street
Galway
091 562259

Also on this trip: 



Also on this Galway trip:

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kitchen at the Galway City Museum. Serves A Cracking Local Plate.


Kitchen at the Galway City Museum.
Serves A Cracking Local Plate.

So here we are at lunch-time down by the Spanish Arch in Galway. We have a string of recommendations including Ard Bia at Nimmo’s. We see the last shaded outside seats taken as we stroll through the Spanish Arch. I’m sure it’s super-cool on the inside of this ancient building as well and am inclined to try it.

Until we spot the Kitchen at the Museum, just opposite Ard Bia. This has been firmly recommended by our guesthouse host just 30 minutes earlier so we head the few metres to the Kitchen.

Here, the outside seats are in full glaring sun, so we move inside, still all bright and light here, and a lovely welcome from a server from Rochestown. Amazing, I’ve been in Galway for 30 minutes and two of the first three people I meet are from Cork.

The mission statement at Kitchen declares their intention to be a stand-out dining venue while supporting local producers. They score very highly on both counts and we very much enjoy their delicious colourful healthy food.

They serve lunch from 12 noon, under two main headings: Sambos and Get Fresh. There’s a Cuban Ham and cheese sambo, a Bacon Bagel, a Loaded Raw Veggie Wrap and more. I pick the Zesty Lemon Chicken Wrap (poached chicken, preserved lemon yogurt, red peppers, grated carrot and baby leaves, all for eight and half euro). This is terrific, packed with colour and flavour and crunch.

And, at the other side of the table and from the other side of the menu, the high maintenance OBC (official blog chef) is powering up for the long day ahead - just in case she mightn’t get enough in Aniar later on - with her Warm Cajun Chicken Salad ( BBQ chicken breast, paprika fried potato, charred sweetcorn, tomato and red onion salsa, coriander, jalapeños, sour cream, grated carrots, and slaw, for €12.50). Everything you need in a salad!

They have a nice little selection of drinks here, including beers from Galway Bay and Galway Hooker and also Cooney’s Cider. But we are being good and get a very good one: a litre of Elderflower Fizz (including Prosecco, of course), a big pitcher of refreshing cool deliciousness for under four euro, probably the best value drink we got during our two days in Galway, day or night!

During the meal we had time for an exchange or two with  our server, swapping info on eating out in Cork and Galway, and soon two very happy customers were on our way, out to the sun. We would be back to visit the adjoining museum (hope to have a post on that in the near future).

Also on this Galway trip:

Galway City Museum
Spanish Parade
Galway
Phone: +353 (0) 91 534 883






Thursday, July 5, 2018

Long Live the King’s Head. Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.



Long Live the King’s Head.
Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.
King Scallops
It’s like a mini rambla in Galway’s Latin Quarter as we work our way through the strollers, the chatters, the crowds circled around the musicians, to a small archway and the entrance to the King’s Head Bistro. 


Some are eating outside this hot sunny evening but we make our way in to a warm welcome in the restaurant itself, taking in the long wall filled with a huge variety of plates. Here, and later in the neighbouring bar, we would have good food and good fun.
Starters. Trout, crab
“We are strong on fish here,” is the message from Chef Brendan Keane. The concentration we learn is very much on local and seasonal, light rather than heavy sauces, and, before he goes back to work, Brendan tells us the strawberries are perfect at the moment.


I go along with Brendan and order two of his specials, beginning with the Pan-fried crab claws in garlic and chilli butter with organic salad. Hard to beat crab claws but this modest chef’s simple treatment takes them to another level. 
Meanwhile, CL is happily renewing acquaintance with an old friend, the trout from Kilkenny’s Goatsbridge Farm. The Barbecued Smoked Trout Salad, to give it its full title, consists of trout, rosemary roasted baby potatoes, pickled red onion, watercress, dill and mustard dressing.


At that stage, we were sipping our glasses of the local Galway Hooker Ale. Later, our server Sorcha would introduce us, guests of the bistro, to the King’s Head Blood Red Ale, the bistro’s own-label beer (by Galway Hooker) and a bloody good one it is, especially with food.

And more food was soon on the way. Again mine came from the specials list: Panfried king scallops, tender-stem broccoli, baby roast potatoes, crispy Andarl farm pancetta and butter sauce. A terrific combination of flavour and texture.

Fish-lover CL picked the organic salmon, a baked fillet of Clare Island salmon, colcannon and organic creamed spinach. Sounds simple. It was. Simply superb.

Nice head. Blood red ale!
Just in case you think it’s all fish here, it’s not. The menu is quite wide ranging and includes Lamb, Vegetable risotto, Veggie Dahl, Burger, Steak, Feather-blade of Beef, and Chicken. We are in on a Thursday evening and the place is busy, seats filling up again within minutes of being vacated.

After our delicious strawberry meringue dessert, we strolled over to the nearby King’s Head Bar, also owned by Paul and Mary Grealish. We had been in here too the previous evening and knew what to expect. It was just as busy and lively. The bar rambles on from room to room in this amazing building that dates back to medieval times. And, after the World Cup, the music comes on and the craic intensifies.

We park ourselves on a couple of vacant seats by the Havana Club section and watch them shake and make cocktail after cocktail before I finish the lovely night with a Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. The King’s Head is a brilliant place to have food and fun. Long live the king. Slainte!


Also on this trip

The Aniar Experience
Kitchen at Galway City Museum
Getaway to the City of the Tribes. Galway






Thursday, January 4, 2018

SeaFest Rotation Gone by the Bord? Millions Slip Through Cork Nets as Galway Gains

SeaFest Rotation Gone by the Bord?

Millions Slip Through Cork Nets as Galway Gains
Rory O'Connell, a regular at SeaFest

Ireland’s national maritime festival SeaFest attracted 101,113 visitors to Galway Harbour during the three day event in 2017, generating €6.3 million for the city.

The figures, details here, showed a phenomenal 68% growth in attendance in just one year. The 2016 SeaFest saw 60,000 visitors attend the festival in Galway, and in 2015, its inaugural year, it netted 10,000 visitors.

It has been confirmed that SeaFest 2018 will take place in Galway from 29th June to 1st July.  It incorporates a series of marine-related business and research events, the annual Our Ocean Wealth Summit, as well as a maritime festival.

Run by the Marine Institute, with major partners BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mara) and Bord Bia, the initial Seafest was held in Ringaksiddy, County Cork, in 2015 when The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, was Simon Coveney TD. Report on the Cork event here.

There was much more than fish demos in Ringaskiddy with linked events around the harbour including Captain Your Own Ship in the Simulator of the National Maritime College, the base for the event. There were SeaFest Science Talks, the BIM Beaufort Scale Hurricane Experience, Marine Recreation and Tourism and much more. 

It was a two day event and the impression given then was that this festival would “tour” Ireland annually and “plans are in hand to bring it to Galway in 2016”. So Cork is not the only loser as the Festival now seems set for a permanent stay in Galway. Fishing places such as Killybegs (Ireland’s largest fishing port), Dingle, Kilmore Quay, Howth, Greenore, Castletownbere, Burtonport, Dunmore East and Greencastle, and Cork of course, will be wondering and, one suspects, waiting.

Read all about SeaFest and its success in Galway here

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Best Places to Stay

Best Places to Stay 2016

Stayed in quite a few places this year. From Kerry to Meath, from Donegal to Dublin, from Limerick to Waterford,  from West Cork to Wexford. These were the best. Suggestions for 2017 welcome! 

 Screebe House, Connemara

Killiane Castle, Co. Wexford
Anyone for croquet at Killiane?

Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney.
Cahernane
Cork Recommendations
East Cork
Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork
Samphire Restaurant, Garryvoe Hotel
West Cork
 Celtic Ross Hotel, West Cork
Warren Beach, Rosscarbery


2016 Reviews - see also
Cafes by the side of the road.
Best Hotel Dining Rooms
Meals with a difference

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gallery Café in Gort & Coole Park. Halfway Haven

Gallery Café in Gort & Coole Park
Halfway Haven
Quiche

If you're heading from the south to the west or north-west, to the Burren, to Galway, Mayo (Knock for instance), Sligo, or Connemara, or indeed coming in the other direction, then Gort is a good place to stop and refuel and nearby Coole Park a lovely place to stretch those legs.

And speaking of re-fueling, why not try the colourful Galley Café in the Square in Gort. You might just get a parking spot outside the door. And you’ll certainly get a warm welcome inside. If you've kids with you, they’ll have about a dozen pizzas to choose from.




And if you see them heading to the toilets more than usual, relax as they have discovered the fish tank built into the floor! You'll probably be taking a look at at the original art on the wall - the exhibition changes every few weeks.
But you've come here for the food - they do lunch and dinner but note they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We were there for lunch recently, on our way back to Cork from Connemara, and can heartily recommend the lively two room café.

CL picked the quiche which featured the well known, well loved, St Tola cheese from Clare in a delicious quiche (€9.00) with spinach and pine-nuts, organic salad and pumpkin seed bread. 

My choice was the Middle Eastern Lamb Mezze (12.00), with cannelloni hummus, beetroot hummus, quinoa, olives, carrots, feta and orange salad and rye bread. Colourful and absolutely gorgeous.

A lovely lively spot with very friendly service and they also do the excellent Badger and Dodo Coffee. But we postponed the coffee until after our walk in nearby Coole Park (you probably know of the poem The Wild Swans at Coole)  associated with Lady Gregory and a whole flock of well known Irish writers

Lamb Mezze

The park is free to enter and there is a nice little café there, with an outside area for the summer. We read our way around the Visitor Centre (also free), also looked at some of the videos and artefacts before we headed out for a walk in the park.


The walled garden is still standing but not, alas, the house. It was donated to the state in the 1920s but was allowed fall into ruin before being demolished. All that remains now is the plinth on which it stood.


The autograph tree
Highlight of the walled garden is an autograph tree, a copper beech that is engraved with initials of many of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival who were personal friends of Lady Gregory including William Butler Yeats, Douglas Hyde, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O'Casey.
No. 11 is So'C (Sean O'Casey)
No. 10, hard to see,  is WBY (William Butler Yeats)

The Gallery Cafe

The Square

Gort, Co.Galway.
Tel:  (091) 630 630


Ecosculpture by Tom Meskell from brash left behind after
the clearfell of non-native conifers 

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)