I’m a little behind on my blogging at the minute and now, as I sit in Marco’s apartment in Turin, I’m reminded of our trip to Galway a couple of weeks ago. Why does an industrial city in northern Italy remind me of Galway? It’s simple really, the weather is bloody awful! Anyway, enough about Torino (more of which in another post) and more of The City of The Tribes.
“There’s enough McKenna Recommended restaurants here to make a Kildare man cry.” This thought went through my head numerous times as I discovered what the vibrant city had to offer. We actually stayed in Salthill but it’s only a beautiful walk from the city centre along the picturesque promenade and quays. Our first encounter with Galway’s delicious food was our quick stop at The Gourmet Tart Company for a coffee (Lavazza – Thank you very much!) and cake. The perfect start. That night we enjoyed a family friendly Italian in Salthill (joined by my parents and two brothers). My Lobster Ravioli may have been masked by the tomato and chilli in the sauce but the Tiramisu made up for it. As did the wine. More restaurants in Ireland should serve Montepulciano D’Abruzzo as their house offering. A few drinks in the city with good friend Finn that night lead to another discovery – Galway does wine on tap – Sold!
“Peter, what will we do for lunch?” The dreaded question, If sharing an apartment with only Ali and my Mother (who both love food) then lunch wouldn’t be a problem but when you throw in my Father, who is at best indifferent to nice things and two brothers who, at worst, despise food it becomes a more difficult situation. “I’ll head into Sheridan’s and see what they have.” Sheridan’s started out as a cheese mongers at farmers markets before opening their shop and restaurant in Galway City (and now one in Dublin too). The shop at ground level is a thing of magic. Ham’s hang from the ceilings, Italian style, while the smell of cheese permeates the nostrils like a blast of airwaves before a first shift. I was delighted to see free range sausages and rashers from a local farm and these were joined in my basket by some smoky Red Leicester cheese and two fresh ciabatta rolls. Surely enough to please everyone, and so it was. That evening we entered the time warp that is McDonagh’s for dinner (see review here) before witnessing the elements at their worst yet again.
Wednesday was a great day. Wednesday was Cava Day! Ali and I strolled into the city in great anticipation only to see Cava owner JP McMahon exiting his other restaurant, the michelin starred Aniar. After a trip to Charlie Byrne’s bookshop to augment the cookery book collection and Thomas Woodberrys Wines for some post dinner sustenance, we walked into Cava twenty minutes early. Not a problem. There is a review of Cava Bodega coming shortly so I’ll keep this short and sweet – it is outstanding. On our stroll home along the promenade, watching the setting sun, we noticed Sharon Shannon walking her 7 dogs. After a quick chat it was time to get back, open the Riesling and settle into the film “Diana” with Ali and my Mam.
Upon researching places to eat in Galway, one name continually came up – Kai. On Thursday we gave it a go for lunch, continuing our catch up with Finn. Again there’s a review on the way but (again!) it was wonderful. My smoked mackerel main was excellent but it was the dessert table that was particularly striking. Although not particularly hungry, a couple of hours later, we tried a pizza from hipster hideout Dough Brothers. We walked out to Mutton Island and enjoyed our pizza watching the waves on the first fine day of our stay. That evening, family in toe, we ate at The Galleon in Salthill. Fine dining it may not be but the family-centric atmosphere and service makes it a must for anyone visiting Salthill with small children.
On Friday there was time for only one thing before our drive home – a trip back to Sheridan’s to stock up on free range sausages, rashers and organic pancetta. Ali and my Mother snuck off to another gem – Cupán Tae for coffee and red velvet cake and assured me of (and rubbed in) it’s deliciousness. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Galway. I used to be quite pessimistic about Ireland’s food culture but Galway gave me renewed hope. There is a great selection of good restaurants and food shops. McCambridge’s on Shop Street may come across a little gimmicky but the produce is top notch (especially the Toonsbridge Irish Mozzarella). There are plenty of independent butchers, bakeries, fish mongers and a couple of good vegetable shops too. As for restaurants, the michelin star may have gone to the pocket emptying Aniar but JP McMahon’s other venture, Cava Bodega, is magnificent. We didn’t get to try Nimmo’s but I’ve heard great things while a dessert at The Gourmet Tart Co. will ensure you snack well in any weather. The pedestrianised areas along with the narrow medievel streets ensure that the city itself is just as beautiful as the food on offer within.