Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Tigh Neachtains in Galway


We wanted our last meal in Ireland to be a special one.  Galway was on the chilly side and the drizzle was on and off.  A helpful person working for the Galway Food Festival suggested her favourite pub as a place where we might want to have some lunch.

She indicated that because it straddled two corners, there was a greater chance to see the sun and she added that the people watching was fabulous.  Well, she was right on both accounts.  What she neglected to tell us was that the 19th century pub was a fascinating place with all its snugs (little cubicles which provide privacy for your table) and that the food was exceptional.

The official name of the place is Seagan Ua Neaccain but is commonly known as  Tigh Neachtain’s or in Canadian English-Neachtain’s Bar.

The lively pub was once a meeting place for Peter OToole and I could absolutely picture him here sharing a pint of Guinness with some blokes.

But onto the food!  It turns out that the award winning restaurant the Artisan, which occupies the space above the pub, is responsible for the food offerings.

D and I shared an organic soup of the day which was parsnip and honey-the perfect choice to chase away the chilliness of the day.

Next,  we ordered one of the dishes that inspired our trip to Ireland-Connemara Mussels in an amazing garlic cream sauce.  Both the soup and the broth were so rich and savoury that we requested more of the nutty oatmeal bread, which was cheerfully provided, to ensure that we were able to lap up every single drop.

DK chose the Slow Confit of Pork Belly which was melt in your mouth and perfectly prepared.  Must be hard to imagine that we were sitting out on a sidewalk and being served this amazingly, gorgeous food.

This was all washed down with our last pints of Guinness and D’s new favourite beer-a Galway Hooker.  The latter is an IPA (IRISH Pale Ale).   D loved the tangy bitterness of the beer so much that he purchased a six pack to bring home to the “boys” in the family.  I came upon him sitting at Neachkin’s with a Galway Hooker but I forgave him and love him just the same….

Kaths quote: “It is a curious fact that no man likes to call himself a glutton, and yet each of us has in him a trace of gluttony, potential or actual. I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to bursting point on anything from quail financiere to flapjacks, for no other reason than the beastlike satisfaction of his belly.”-M.F.K. Fisher


Galway and Ard Bia at Nimmos


We knew weeks in advance of our arrival in Ireland that we would be there in time for the Galway Food Festival.

We strategically chose Saturday to make the drive to Galway City.  We wandered down Quay and then High Street (which are both restricted to pedestrians only) to find the Festival Village.

Along the way we also came across the Galway Market.  In the end, when we arrived at the Festival we had a quick look around and then decided to head back to the market and the quaint shops of the outside mall.  Since the intent of the festival is the celebration of Galway as a good food destination with a strong focus on artisan, seasonal and local produce, the festival was a success, even though we decided not to stand in the lines at the individual booths.

In the mean time, we accidentally found Ard Bia at Nimmos.

I was enthralled by the amazing little space and by the name and went on line to find out the source.  Ard Bia was on Quay Street five years ago then moved into Nimmos and both places were run by the same owners for two years.  In 2008 they moved Ard Bia to the Nimmos building in the Spanish Arch. The space is now the combination of both Ard Bia and Nimmos.

We warmed up with tea and sweets and then ventured back to explore the town.

Browsing and shopping was wonderful fun as the shops were as beautiful on the outside as the inside.

Ard Bia on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A woman is like a tea bag — only in hot water do you realize how strong she really is.”-Nancy Reagan

The Ruins of Adare


We wanted to spend the morning of Good Friday in a quiet manner.

The religious orders of old liked to settle on good land beside a river, and no less than three groups of monks made the countryside of Adare their home during the Middle Ages.

PK had planned on attending the Trinitarian Abey otherwise known as the “White Abbey” in the centre of the village.  It had been restored by the First Earl of Dunraven as a Roman Catholic Parish Church.  D and I were attending the Church of Ireland services that afternoon at the Augustinian Priory (or the Black Friars’ Abey) which was founded in 1315 by John, Earl of Kildare.

 So it was fitting that we spend the morning at the Franciscan Friary ruins in the demesne, beside the clubhouse of the Adare Manor Golf Course.  We understand that full tours of the ruins of Adare are available through the Adare Heritage Centre during peak vacation times.  In April though the best you can do (if you have anyone with mobility issues) is tour the Franciscan Friary Ruins.


After 1756 John Wesley paid several visits to Adare and the site of the tree where he preached is marked.  Here perhaps?  The quiet time that we spent at the ruins that Good Friday morning was absolutely fascinating.

Kaths quote: “Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovlier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?”-Fank McCourt

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Adare Manor Estate


There was a gorgeous coffee table book of the Leading Hotels in the World in our villa living room.  As I flipped through I realized that the beautiful Hotel Negressa in Nice and the King David in Jerusalem, both of which I have visited were included.  As well, of course, as the Adare Manor Hotel.  I was determined to explore.

If you have been following these blog posts, you already know that I am a romantic; one of my favourite books from my youth being Whuthering Heights.  I was especially enthralled by the mysterious Catherine.  And as soon as I had the ability to shape my own persona, wanted to be addressed by Kathryne rather than the more common place name of Kathy.  

While D and I were waiting for DK & PK to arrive back from their day trip to Cork, we took the opportunity to tour the grounds of the magnificent Adare Manor estate-a place befitting of Catherine (or Kathryne) I was sure.  I would be in good company as I understand that Catherine Zeta Jones has also been a guest here.

We understand that the manor had been built by the second Earl of Dunraven in the 18th century and his wife Lady Caroline. At least a part of the vision of the Manor was to keep the villagers of Adare employed and fed through the potato famine.

By standing back and gazing back at the Manor, D discovered the dedication of the house which was incorporated into the roof-line parapet: “Except The Lord Build The House Then Labour Is But Lost That Built It”.

The golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. is nothing short of exquisite with the trout-filled River Maigue running through the course and the estate.

I love everything about the sport of golf (except hitting the ball with a skinny stick) and have walked some beautiful courses.

The gardens in early April were grand and I could picture a round of archery or clay pigeon shooting being conducted here.

Some of the most magnificent trees I have ever seen (with the exception perhaps of the olive and cypress trees in the Jerusalem) are contained on the  840 acres of the Manor grounds.

I was especially enthralled by the 100 year old cork tree and now have new found respect for those vineyards who are moving to cork alternatives.

Sadly, Lord Dunraven died in 1862 before he  had seen the completion of the Manor, proving what I already know, that money does not buy health, or happiness (or love).

Kath’s quote: “Because love grows best in little houses,
With fewer walls to separate,
Where you eat & sleep so close together.
You can not help but communicate,
Oh, & if we had more room between us, think of all we would miss.
Love grows best, in houses just like this”. –
Doug Stone

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Wild Geese Restaurant-Adare Ireland


As soon as we saw that there was an award winning restaurant in the village of Adare, we knew that we had to visit.  The Wild Geese has been included on Bridgestone’s top 100 restaurant in Ireland for the past 13 consecutive years.  D called to make a reservation and then we had to delay our arrival a number of times because the four of us had separate itineraries that day.  Having been in the restaurant business ourselves, we know that juggling last minute changes can be difficult to manage, but Julie handled our postponement with much grace.

As we entered Rose Cottage, we were escorted into comfortable sitting room with a cozy fire place and big comfy couches.  We choose a bottle of Les Jamelleo Merlot which was poured out and served with pitted black olives that had been smoked in brine.  These were such a treat that I searched them out while we were in Galway, purchased them and carried them all the way home to Canada in my suitcase.  While relaxing over our pre-dinner glasses, we were brought menus and asked to make our selections for the evening.  I am not sure if this is unusual in Ireland, it certainly would be considered so in Canada, and yet knowing that the Irish like to have their food arrive right away, this makes perfect sense.

Upon moving to a comfy table in the dining room, a server came by with a handled bread basket and then indicated each bread variety that was available.  I chose a Parmesan roll but all the choices were absolutely delicious.

But the truth is-they had me at the dishes.

The practice of serving an Amuse Bouche has become more common of late, but I am still as delighted as a little girl receiving a surprize birthday gift.  These were a pesto cheese a top a tiny biscuit, floating upon a red pepper puree-sublime.

First courses were a variety of little plates which were intended to be your own but because we are all food crazy, we love to share bites with everyone (what family is meant for).

There was Chicken Liver Parfait with orange segments and tomato chutney,

Duck & Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Japanese drizzle,

Goat Cheese baked with a light curry crust, balsamic and an apple puree.

And lastly, a Crusty Brie with a light pesto cream, pineapple/cucumber salsa and red pepper essence.  I could try to describe the potpourri of tastes but sometimes I just let the carefully selected ingredients (and photos) speak for themselves.  And this was just the first plates!

As I go back and unarchive my photos, scan my travel journal and check my notes-I can not for the life of me recall what I ordered that evening!  Perhaps I got chatting with Julie or telling some boisterous story and forgot to take a photo, before I tried to get caught up to everyone.  But here is the thing-it does not really matter what I had on my plate, I was with my beloved husband, brother and his wife and I took just as much pleasure watching them as they ate, then I know I would have enjoyed my own.  Does this make sense to you?

The table chose 3 ribs of Lamb which was served with a rosemary and garlic potato gratin and a rosemary juis for extra measure.

The Duck was accompanied by sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

Lastly, the Sirloin was tossed in garlic butter and came with a mushroom and Parmesan tarte and rosemary & garlic potato gratin.

There was definitely no room for dessert and sometime in the midst of our in-depth conversation with Julie, we realized that we were the last table in the restaurant, so it was definitely time for our short walk to the Manor gate.

Having met Julie we can see first hand the attention to detail and love of local food that she and her husband are committed too.  We know too (not because she was complaining) that it is an increasingly difficult time to be in the high end restaurant business with Ireland’s current economic conditions.  We wish Julie and David much success as their passion for food and the hospitality business is obvious from the very first time you walk into The Rose Cottage.

The Wild Geese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth – something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food – just watch it, don’t eat it.”-Edward Koch

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