Eat, Drink, Galway: A whistlestop tour of Eire’s culinary capital


Sitting outdoors Tigh Neachtain’s in Galway. Picture: Fáilte Eire

Oysters in Galway Metropolis. Picture: Fáilte Eire

Sheena Dignam of Galway Meals Excursions. Picture: Andrew Downes, xposure

Galway – Eyre Sq.-Kennedy Park

Stout and oysters at Tigh Neachtain. Picture: Sophie Donaldson

A lobster roll at Galway’s oyster competition. Picture: Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson in Galway

Sophie Donaldson

Eat, Drink, Galway: A whistlestop tour of Eire’s culinary capital

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As a daily customer to Galway, I at all times thought I had a fairly sound information of town’s meals scene. It seems, I had rather a lot to study.

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As a daily customer to Galway, I at all times thought I had a fairly sound information of town’s meals scene. It seems, I had rather a lot to study.

I anticipated to devour some wonderful meals, perhaps strive just a few new dishes – I didn’t look forward to finding myself, mid-morning, sipping a stout made with oat milk whereas nibbling on turnip sushi (extra on that later).

However first issues first: tea. Plenty of tea. Extra tea than you could possibly dream of, in truth – a seemingly limitless array stacked on floor-to-ceiling cabinets.

In the hunt for a day pick-me-up shortly after arriving into town, we head to Cupán Tae (cupantae.eu), a whimsical, fine-china laden tea room within the metropolis centre. It’s a typical late-September afternoon, wherein shards of white sunshine sometimes pierce the sodden clouds overhead. A number of intelligent locals have taken refuge inside with pots of tea, slices of cake and newspapers, whereas a gradual stream of damp vacationers trails by the doorways.

Over steaming pots of tea (a Darjeeling for me, the home favorite Dreamy Creamy Galway Tea for my spouse), we delve into the tiered Afternoon Tea platter in entrance of us. It’s laden with savoury sandwiches- together with a decadent egg salad infused with fruit tea – and delicate truffles.

It is simply the beginning of our foodie tour, too.

Eire’s meals scene is on a roll, as seen with final week’s freshly anointed Michelin stars. Excessive-end institutions and stylish ventures cluster in Dublin, however right here’s quite a lot of good meals to had additional afield – and Galway, which has two Michelin Star eating places in Aniar and Loam (the latter received the Michelin Information UK & Eire’s first Sustainability award this month), is a superb place to start out.

Galway is “arguably Eire’s most participating metropolis”, Lonely Planet mentioned whereas naming it one of many world’s Prime 10 cities to go to in 2020 this week.

It is also arguably Eire’s culinary capital.

Take provenance. Whereas largely on-trend these days, Galwegians have lengthy been consuming native, and the county has turn into famend for its seafood, lamb, and extra lately, seaweed. Aniar (aniarrestauant.ie), for instance, has pioneered a hyper-local method by solely cooking with elements that may be grown within the area, which suggests widespread elements like black pepper aren’t utilized by the kitchen.

Particular point out should go to the snacks that begin our five-course dinner on the restaurant that night; purple smoked potatoes poached in butter, crab wrapped in fermented kohlrabi and dehydrated beetroot with pickled rose petal appear like prehistoric artefacts and are a pleasure to devour.

The menu adjustments each day and the night time we go to is a pescatarian feast, with grilled oyster adorned with varied seaweeds, a sliver of cod in a pond of tomato water, and turbot cooked so the flesh is silky and translucent, among the many highlights. Aniar’s kitchen has managed to develop six melons this 12 months, and dinner is completed with a half-moon sliver of the juiciest, most intensely-flavoured fruit I’ve had.

As with most touring, discovering Galway’s meals providing is finest finished with a neighborhood and on foot. So after a relaxation at our base, the Ardilaun Lodge, we set off the following morning with Sheena Dignam of Galway Meals Excursions (galwayfoodtours.com, beneath).

Sheena is a fountain of information and the morning is peppered with chat and gossip from the locals – because it occurs, the primary cease on our tour, Griffins Bakery on Store Road, is about to shut in two days’ time.

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Sheena Dignam of Galway Meals Excursions. Picture: Andrew Downes, xposure

By 11am, we’re sipping on Poitín from Micil distillery positioned in close by Salthill, paired with air dried and cured lamb. It’s like essentially the most intensely savoury prosciutto you’ve ever had, and is the right accompaniment to a neighborhood goat’s cheese speckled with caraway seeds. From there, we make a pitstop on the buzzing Saturday morning meals market, snacking on a thimble of fiery vegetarian madras, a freshly shucked oyster and sizzling cinnamon donut. We amble into the legendary Tigh Neachtain and listen to a full of life historical past of the pub whereas sampling that aforementioned sushi and stout; the previous from Wa Cafe, the latter brewed domestically by Soulwater Brewery (beneath).

The tour is wrapped up in Kai (kairestaurant.ie), the Michelin-Bib Gourmand restaurant owned by Kiwi chef Jess Murphy. On a home made black sesame cracker is a beneficiant mound of dressed Connemara crab topped with pink onions, coriander and a spicy peanut sauce. It’s the right mouthful of east meets west (of Eire).

We’re, collectively, stuffed and in dire want of a lie-down.

After rising from that morning’s meals coma, we’re prepared for our pre-dinner drink and meet Elle, our information from Galway Craft Beer Excursions (craftbeertoursgalway.ie). We cease in Bierhaus, the mothership of Galway’s craft beer scene the place we strive ales from White Gypsy and Porterhouse breweries.

After attempting a flight of craft beers in The Salt Home, considered one of Galway Bay Brewery’s pubs, it’s time to move out of town to the picturesque village of Barna. It is likely to be a sleepy locale but it surely’s additionally house to one of many buzziest boutique resorts round. The Twelve (thetwelvehotel.ie) is a vacation spot in its personal proper, all horny darkish partitions and quirky decor. Upstairs within the stylish West restaurant we strive extra native seafood, this time langoustine, Connemara scallops, and extra scrumptious turbot.

Seafood is on the coronary heart of Galway’s gastronomic id. The Galway Oyster Competition celebrated its 65th 12 months this September, after we visited, drawing guests from around the globe. Held in a lofty marquee proper on Nimmo’s Pier, by Sunday afternoon the rain clouds have cleared as we meandered between stalls promoting oysters together with lobster rolls, mussels and clams, fish and chips.

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Stout and oysters at Tigh Neachtain. Picture: Sophie Donaldson

Chef JP McMahon, of Aniar, holds court docket throughout a cooking demo the place he effortlessly shucks twelve oysters whereas bantering over his mic, and produces a silky oyster soup. We sip a taster from a paper cup because the Michelin-star chef thanks the viewers for attending and a swing band begins within the background.

It’s Galway’s meals providing summed up in a single scene – unpretentious, seafood-centric and completely world-class.

NB: Sophie was a visitor of Fáilte Eire, whose Style the Island celebration of Eire’s food and drinks is happening throughout September, October and November.

For more information, go to its Style the Island web site.

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