Builin Blasta (Tasty Loaf) is a gem of a cafe located in the craft center (An Ceardlann) in Spiddal, Co. Galway. The cafe is owned and run by Chef Jamie (J-Me) Peaker who hails from New Zealand. J-Me’s cv includes a stint at well known London eatery The Ivy before he opened Builin Blasta in Spiddal. The cafe is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 11am until 5pm. Breads, pastries, tarts, sausage rolls, scones, desserts, dressings and preserves are all made on site. You can also purchase their dressings and chutneys to takeaway and they will also provide you with the recipe for their scones if you would like to try and make them yourself!
Firstly, ginger is my thing. I love it in all its forms; ginger ale is even my choice of mixer with Vodka! Ginger and treacle as a combination is another favourite. After a long search for a recipe for a Ginger & Treacle bread and finding none that perfectly suited what I was trying to create, I came up with this recipe which gives me everything I was looking for in a Ginger & Treacle bread.
After including The Fatted Calf on my list of must visits for 2014, I was glad to get an early opportunity to visit for lunch on a blustery Saturday in early February. Glasson is easily accessible from Athlone and well worth the trip even from farther afield. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday. Read More
This recipe makes a wonderfully tangy version of this classic. Hope you like it.
I have been in South Africa many times and have travelled the Garden Route on three of my visits. Prior to the second visit, I became aware of Bramon Wine Estate and booked a lunch at their restaurant. I was drawn to the place by virtue of the gorgeous pictures on their website, the type of food they serve (sharing plates/tapas style) and the fact that they make a sparkling wine from Sauvignon Blanc grapes (or a Methode Cap Classique (MCC) as South African bubbly is called). On our first visit, we had booked an outside table for lunch (among the vines) and hoped the weather would oblige – and we were so thankful it did. On our second visit, we dropped by without a reservation and we got an outside table but all the tables between the vines were booked. Read More
Ballymaloe House has long been on my list to visit, as I imagine it is for many people. A friend booked in to do a couple of consecutive courses at the famed Cookery School and I decided to use the opportunity to tag along, sightsee around Cork and have dinner in Ballymaloe House.
We spent one night in Cork City and my friend was booked into Cookery School accommodation for the next night, being the night before her first school course. Upon enquiring with the Cookery School, they were very accommodating to me too and I was able to avail of B & B there too for one night even though I was not attending the course. Now I am sure it is not always possible to this, but I was grateful it was available for the night I wanted to stay. I was very impressed with the quality of the Cookery School accommodation. We stayed in Mrs Walsh’s cottage which is an 8-bedroomed house (all bedrooms en-suite – including two twin rooms) complete with fully equipped kitchen and two reception rooms with TV and free wifi. Participants in the shorter cookery courses can avail of breakfast beforehand in the Cookery School. The breakfast is a wonderful buffet of a variety of muesli, porridge, yoghurts, breads, scones, spotted dog, cheeses, jams, juices, tea and coffee. Everything is freshly made on site that morning and as confirmed by Darina Allen – not a cornflake in sight! Read More
There are so many good restaurants throughout Ireland that I am hearing good things about that I failed to visit in 2013. I also read many interesting accounts of trips to food festivals that I didn’t get to last year. It’s not possible to get to all the places I would like to – real life gets in the way! But, here is a list of 10 places I would like to get to in 2014.
1. MacNean House & Restaurant, Blacklion, Co. Cavan
Neven Maguire’s restaurant and cooking is legendary. This may take some planning and some luck in securing a reservation but I definitely need to visit after hearing so many good things both online and from friends. I am told that if you stay overnight at MacNean House that the breakfast is also an experience in itself. Read More
1. Cava Bodega, Middle Street, Galway
Galway people are thrilled with the reopening of this popular Tapas restaurant. It is now situated on Middle Street in the City and has fast become a favourite of many. Visit for quality tapas y vino in a gorgeous setting at reasonable prices.
Food lovers in Galway were very disappointed when the original Cava Tapas restaurant on Dominic Street closed its doors. Many believed (and hoped) that Cava would re-open and thankfully it has – as Cava Bodega – in Middle Street. I have been to the new Cava Bodega twice since it opened in September last and I love it. I love everything about it; the gorgeous space, the menu and JP’s wonderful food, the staff and the atmosphere. I love this way of eating, sharing and sampling and being able to try out so many of the dishes. The decor is what I would describe as “homemade” and its lovely and cosy, but yet you don’t feel as if you are on top of your neighbouring diners. It really has been transformed into a beautiful dining space and if you are seated downstairs you will be able to observe the busy kitchen in action.
The menu is laid out in many sections; Nibbles, Pinchos (Spanish Canapes), Cured Meats & Cheese, Vegetables & Pulses, Fish, Meat and Desserts. I haven’t quite managed to sample everything on the menu yet unfortunately but everything I have has been so good. From the Pinchos section, I can recommend the Jamon Serrano, Manchego Cheese, Quince which is lovely to nibble on at the start over your first glass of wine!
It is nice to be able to order a mixture of Meat, Fish and Vegetable dishes, however I have yet to do the Fish section any justice so that is on my list for future visits. In terms of Vegetables, I can recommend the Catalan Spinach or of course the Patatas Bravas. However, if you like Chorizo, there is a wonderful dish of Chorizo, Potato, Red Wine in the Meat Section which is amazing and will give you the potato you require with the gorgeous addition of Chorizo. It was so good I thought about ordering a second portion. I don’t think I will ever visit Cava Bodega and leave this dish out!
Other Meat dishes I can recommend are the Free Range Duck (with plum and sherry) which cooked medium was absolutely gorgeous. I have also enjoyed the Rack of Lamb (with confit lamb belly and cauliflower puree – pictured above) which was a favourite in the old Cava and is just as good here. The Chicken Breast (with walnuts and chicory) is also really good – sometimes I find chicken dishes can be bland but that is not the case here. And another winner is the Confit Pork Belly with apple compote and thyme gel.
From the cheese section, I can vouch for the Manchego, Quince, Almonds – in fact I have discovered a real love of Manchego courtesy of Cava Bodega! On the Dessert side, you must try the Churros (pictured below). And very handily they come in two size portions – perfect for sharing (or not!). They are a perfect sugar kick at the end of the meal.
The wine list is short and exclusively Spanish with wines grouped according to their main characteristics – two groups of White Wines – either Crisp & Light or Aromatic and Fruity; similarly two groups of Red Wines either Smooth & Fruity or Rich & Full. There is also a good number of wines available by the glass – and two glass sizes are available. The restaurant also serves sherries, beers and ciders and various food/drink pairings are available.
I highly recommend Cava Bodega on all fronts. The food, wines, decor and atmosphere are second to none. I am already looking forward to my next visit when definitely some fish dishes will be ordered.
Cava Bodega is owned and run by JP McMahon and Drigin Gaffey whose culinary pedigree is well known and who also own Aniar and Eat at Massimo. You can contact Cava Bodega on +353 91 539884 or very handily they take online table reservations at www.cavarestaurant.ie
Kai Cafe & Restaurant is a beautifully designed restaurant located at Sea Road, Galway. It is run by Chef Jess Murphy and her husband David. I have visited Kai three times since it opened and each time the experience has surpassed the previous visit. Kai is now, in my opinion, the best restaurant in Galway. It is the combination of exquisite food, excellent service and the warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes this restaurant a winner for me.
The menu comprises five choices in each of its Beginning, Middle and End categories. On my most recent visit, the menu read so well it was really difficult to choose. For starters, my dining companion chose Connemara Crab & Green Goddess and I chose a Toons Bridge Mozzarella Caprese. Other dishes included a Scallop ceviche with citrus and shiso, Lobster on toast and a Hen House board from Friendly Farmer. I was completely torn between the Caprese and the Hen House board but opted for the Caprese after much deliberation.
For mains, I chose the Lamb Rack with Panzanella and my friend the Spiced Monkfish with Black Bean Salsa. Other options included John Dory with Clam and Chorizo Casserole, Brady’s Striploin with Morel Butter and an Artichoke, Goatcurd and Heirloom Bean Salad. We also ordered a bottle of a 2012 Piccollo Ernesto Gavi and our lovely waitress enthused at our choice and gave the wine a glowing recommendation. She was spot on; this Gavi is truly wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Both starters were wondefully presented; each a riot of colour on the plate. I loved my Caprese which was up there with one of the best I have had – and as you can see from my blog’s signature picture, I often go for Caprese and love when taste and innovative presentation combine! My friend pronounced her Connemara Crab and Green Goddess (Avocado) to be a winner also.
The main courses were equally as good with my Lamb Rack cooked to perfection and the salad was vibrant and fresh. The monkfish and accompanying salsa was also excellent. We did not have room for dessert which was a real shame as we had watched with interest as desserts were being delivered to nearby tables. The Florentine Ice Cream Sandwich in particular had caught my eye, as had the Yoghurt and Blood Orange Pannacotta. Next time I visit, I will be making an extra special effort to be able for dessert!
Kai is a fantastic dining experience. The dining space is gorgeous and the staff have created a wonderful ambiance which is hard to beat. The main attraction though is, of course, Jess’s wonderful food. Expect to pay around €50 each for two courses including wine and tip.