Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Aniar Restaurant

 

Nice comfy setting. Colours are easy on the eyes but lacking a bit of oompf

Before I get started on my review of Aniar Restaurant I think you should read this article from The Economist. I will get into this topic in much more detail as time goes on. For now you should know that I am more than qualified when it comes reviewing a restaurant and offering criticism on food, service and the overall dining experience.

I have worked in the service industry since the age of 14 which affords me just shy of 25 years of first-hand experience in the biz. I have owned and operated my own restaurant (quite successfully thank you very much) and I have an army of former employees that will attest to the fact that I know what good food, service and bang for your buck is all about.

I have never accepted a pay off to blog about a restaurant, a wine or a product. All dinners and libations are paid for by myself and The Chef and occasionally Granny throws a gift certificate our way.

The only thing I am slightly underqualified for is the ‘writing’ part of this exercise. I am half way through my 4 yr college degree (creative writing) so please excuse my misplaced P’s and Q’s if you find them. Or better yet, help me to re-locate them!

If you think I am just another one of those bloggers who should keep my thoughts to myself — and not share my two cents worth with the hard-working people who keep throwing their money back into a very struggling economy — then please move on. Last time I checked it is still a free country and because this is my personal blog I can say what I want.

Aniar Restaurant

Blog

Website

53 Lower Dominick Street

Galway

(091) 535 947

Ah. The coveted window seat right inside the door?

We walked hand-in-hand across the Spanish Arch, wading through August puddles and looked like a pair of drowned rats by the time we reached Aniar Restaurant on lower Dominick Street in Galway. The kids were at home with a good friend of ours who insisted on babysitting for a few hours. I had thrown together a lasagne made from meatballs and left over welsh rarebit cheese sauce. The Chef swiped a few forkfuls before we walked out the door and gave me that loving look of disbelief — that I have come to adore — in that (a) I made dinner AND (b) it tasted good!

To be fair though, I just used all his leftovers, so of course it tasted good.

Credit where credit is due!

A mid-week visit to Aniar gave us our pick of the tables as there were only two other diners in the cosy 28 seater restaurant. Although we were offered the window seat (right inside the front door) we declined. The waiter told us we would have to be ‘out by 8’ as it was a coveted table and had been reserved. That was ok. I did not need to be seated right in the doorway.

Someone put A LOT of thought and time into the wine menu. Seriously nice and well priced. 

The Chef spent a bit of time perusing the well thought out — and beautifully presented — wine list. We settled on a bottle of Paper Road Pinot Noir (2009) from New Zealand priced at €31. A quick Tweet from a kiwi-chef friend confirmed it was the right choice with a  ‘sweet jesus love it’ comment. She was not wrong. Every last drop lingered and tasted like more. I am trying to find a source for this in Galway at the minute and think it retails for around €15 per bottle. How do you feel about that mark up in price? Is it a A bit steep for recessionary times?

Cute interior design. Simple, understated. Should be more comfortable but felt a bit cold or sterile.

I always get a little annoyed by things that do not do ‘what it says on the label’. And this is the kind of place that might leave you feeling that way. To start with, if you read either their blog or their website, you get the impression that you will be eating locally sourced and very seasonal goodies in a casual and relaxed environment.

Sadly, no local producers, or local product, were mentioned or showcased and we certainly did not feel like there was a basket of locally harvested goodies brimming over in the back – and slightly open – kitchen.

A nice enough menu. But does it deliver what it promises?

There was only one waiter to man the floor. I do understand the need to keep your labour costs in check, but for gods sake hire a bus-boy to take the coats (and return them) and to keep tables cleared off and re-set.

This might be all part of their shtick, but we found it oddly uncomfortable that the head chef kept bringing things to the table. First it was the amuse bouche of smoked-scallop-roe mousse. Wikipedia — where modern students go to learn everything they need to know about life in general — states that an amuse bouche is a little gift from a chef used to excite the taste buds of hungry customers. For future reference, should you choose to dine here, this is not going to excite you.

Smoked Scallop Roe dots on funny flavoured crackers.

Next up, the head chef appeared (again) with some stodgy or stale bread and salted butter.

Our waiter gave us a bit of a song and dance about the Chef’s sourdough ‘mother’ that has been kept alive for nine months and they use it every day. The Chef says ‘let it die’. Find a new mother. Chewy. Dense. Forgettable. The focaccia (also made in-house) tasted like dry angel food or pound cake. Not anything focaccia-like, at all.

'Very forgettable bread' says the Chef.

When we go out to eat, we typically order a couple of appetizers, one main course, a salad, and a couple of desserts. They do not have soup ‘yet’ explained the waiter when I asked what the soup du jour was. Ah. Why not? ‘The Chef has not gotten around to creating that for the menu ‘yet’ ‘. Ok. I know. Go easy on them. Only open five or six weeks. Did I mention it was raining and cold last night? Perfect soup weather in my opinion.

There are no salads on the menu. I assumed that this meant a salad would automatically come on the plate. Silly silly girl. They are into micro-greens. Very micro, not much green.

I had spied (earlier whilst perusing their online menu) the Scallop-Oyster appetizer and when I ordered it I was warned cautioned by our furrowed-brow waiter that the appetizer I had ordered was just appetizer ‘size’ and was this ok?

‘Yes. That’s fine’ I stated and looked desperately to the Chef for some comfort in his assurance that I did not look like a hungry beached whale.

Hey, this is how the waiter made me feel.

The waiter went on to tell us how the menu, printed daily, is based on what they get in that day and everything is seasonal and local. ‘Great’, says the Chef ‘I’ll have the Wild Turbot then’. ‘Oh, except we do not have that today’ says the waiter. ‘Will you have the Brill instead?’

Ah, no. Beef cheeks for the (somewhat sulky) Chef. The reason for his sulkiness is warranted people! It was just after 6pm. They open at 6pm. Why print up a daily menu with something you do NOT have?

Scallop, Oyster, Dillisk, Sorrel and smoked potato. Can you find them all?

When our food arrived I was blinded by the whiteness of the seriously oversized appetizer plate. And right in the center, there were three little scallops. One of them sitting in a bath of cuckoo spit foam. Apparently this was the oyster. The foam? The dillisk was the powdered stuff on top and maybe I was blind but can you find the smoked potato?

Beef Cheeks. Slow cooked the night before. Nice.

The Beef Cheeks were good. Their au jus needs some help. I would recommend using some bones when making the stock. It had no flavour. The Chef said it is more like an €18.50 entrée rather than the €23.50 we paid.

Beef Cheeks are a relatively inexpensive piece of meat. Yes, they do shrink down a bit when cooked, but are sold in large pieces for a fair price. In addition, the side dish of roasted potatoes (tasted like Tesco’s) came lightly buttered with no seasoning. Now, if you are not going to season the dishes for me, then please have the decency to put the salt & pepper on the table.

Half way through his main course the Chef looked at me and said ‘we shoulda went to Kai‘. Bless his heart. He made me feel so guilty for wanting to get out and support a new local business.

The Cheese Board and the Aniseed Crackers. Cheese ok. Crackers - Blech.

The tables were filling up nicely at this point and the Chef and I were enjoying a few hours to ourselves sans les enfants. We ordered the cheese board (€9) and were happy with the(perfect temperature) cheeses they plopped before us on a piece of rough cut slate with some (well-baked) aniseed crackers.

I cannot believe I am going to make this statement, but it has to be said.

Buy some crackers guys.

Those are not going to win you any prizes. If you must bake your own crackers then use sesame seeds. Aniseed competes too much with the wine palette and almost killed the last drop of our lovely bottle.

I would have loved to know what kind of cheeses we ate but with only one waiter running the show it was hard to pin him down. When he presented the check to us later, he had forgotten to add the cheese board to the bill. I quickly informed him and we settled up and got the heck outta dodge.

All in all, it was €74 for our dinner with the wine.

Before heading home we popped in to see a friendly barman at the Salt House Bar and wrapped up the evening with a few stellar Belgian Ales. This, and the fact that we were alone for a few hours, was the highlight of our evening.

For the beer drinkers out there, the Chef has a new favourite Belgian ale called ‘Hommel’ and is looking to get a KEG of it. That good, it is!

Ah. The Salt House. Go there. Drink Beer. Lots of it. All of it, even.

Aniar opened for business in late June/early July. I think, for a midweek visit, it was alright. Their website states that ‘Aniar has set the hearts of foodies racing’ and I suppose I would love to know who these ‘foodies’ are?

The concept is good, but the execution is lacking. They need to put their foot in it. I have said it before when I wrote about another restaurant here.

There is no love in their kitchen.

I wrote this piece late last night and decided to ‘sleep on it’ to see if I felt better or worse about my experience when I awoke this morning. As the Chef offered me my daily peck-on-the-cheek-goodbye he turned to me and said ‘the best bite of food I had last night was your lasagna honey’ then he stole a kiss on the lips and flew out the door to bake his daily bread.

Cheeky bugger.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for now.

This is my 299th post. There will be bells and whistles and pressies and prizes when I hit the 300th!

Stay tuned and if you want to double your chances to win one of the many prizes then pop over to our WiseWords page on Facebook!

WiseMóna

Advertisements

Summer Salsa

A quiet place to ponder ones innermost thoughts - or - the perfect place to dodge the frequent summer showers we get!

It is no secret. The sun makes little effort to shine during the summer months here on the island. Because of this, when it does shine, one might feel like taking a day off. Today began nicely.  We are back to just having the four kids — instead of 6, 8, or 10 — and I have an easy start to my days. Silent coffee with the Chef before he departs for a day of baking and then at least 2 hours before the little rotters drag their lazy bums out of bed.

Feeling in a rather generous mood this morning, I decided to go out and do a bit of weeding in the poly tunnel for the Chef.

Ha ha ha – had ya going there didn’t I. This is soooo not true. I hate weeding. I was really just having a good nose about to see what all his efforts are producing. He is a rockstar in the garden.

Summer Squash is all a bloom right now.

But once I got out there, I was sucked in to the heady heat wave that was going on in their so I raced back inside, grabbed a book, sunglasses and a deck chair, and just chilled in the poly tunnel until one of the kids came racing out with the phone. Surprise social worker visit! They were on their way and would be there in an hour. Ha! Come on over, I said, but do not expect me to mop my floor!

A little sun might encourage these puppies to turn RED!

I raced inside and mopped the floor and this is when I got flustered. They were arriving bang on 12 noon and that would have been the kids lunch time. So, I had to make something in advance that looked healthy and made the young’uns happy otherwise I would appear to be insensitive to the needs of my children, and my guise would ruined.

My daily ducky distraction

After a mini-distraction of daily play time with my pals, I turned on the oven and threw in a few cherry tomatoes with strips of bacon on top of them. A little sprinkle of salt and a good bit of fresh and coarsely ground black pepper.

Sometimes tomatoes need a little love. So just add bacon.

Making your own salsa is easy and if you can get your kids to eat it, one of the healthiest salads you can choose.

Ingredients

5 cloves raw garlic

1 Jalapeño

1 small onion

30 cherry tomatoes (roasted)

1/2 tin of plum tomatoes

1 lime

1 cup cilantro/fresh corriander

1/2 tsp of mexican oregano (dried)

Whole coriander

Whole cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

All lined up with no where to go

  • Finely dice the garlic and onions and the jalapeño.
  • Chop up the roasted and tinned tomatoes and add to the mix.
  • Sprinkle with Mexican oregano. If you do not have any of this, I suggest you ask an American friend to post you some. No. You should not use ordinary dried oregano. Burn it. That is horrible stuff.
  • Squeeze in the lime juice.
  • With your mortar and pestle smash up the coriander seeds and the cumin seeds and add this powder to the salsa.
  • Roughly chop the cilantro/fresh coriander and loosely lift it into the salsa. Do not over mix it.
  

Ah.....good friends carry things in their luggage for you.

This is a sticky mess to make. There was quite a bit of finger licking going on whilst I was making it. Use the left over juices from the roasting pan that has tomato bacon fat in it. Pour it into the salsa. Give to the kids for lunch with a toasted cheese sandwich and leave the rest of it in a very pretty bowl atop your kitchen table with some warm and salted tortilla chips. The unsuspecting social workers will never know what hit them. They arrived for an inspection and left with a recipe!

It tasted so much better than it looks. Trust me.

It is easy to bribe people, especially when you surround them with lovely food and fragrant kitchen smells. Really. And on that (almost) finishing note my friends. I got word from a reliable source today that I have two of the cutest mini Mauviel copper pots to add to my great big giveaway.

A very little copper sauté pot. Of course you want one.

Yes. They are small. But, oh they are mighty. If you do not have a copper pot, then it is high time you added one to the mix. In order to make sure you are in with a chance to win, make sure you subscribe to WiseWords (for free) via email over on the TOP RIGHT hand side of the blog.

A lovely little copper cocotte. I am sure, that your life will be so much happier and your food will taste better once you use this pot.

Of course, if your life is full enough, and you already have a wonderful collection of said copper pots, then by all means, look away and let another lucky reader take all the prizes.

Stay tuned….this is the 298th blog post so when we hit 300 then the gifts will start flying out the door!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

WiseMóna

There are A LOT of books out there that can teach you parenting tips and tricks. There are (free or costly) websites out there offering more advice. Then, there are your own partners and parents – a wealth of information on hand and ready to dispel all the ‘right way to do things’ at all times. And then there is also the ‘learn by doing’ approach which seems to be where I am stuck mostly. Our parenting challenges are a little trickier than others, as we deal with a (sometimes) revolving door of foster kids, so when we try to make an impression on a child, it usually has to be fast and it always has to be effective.

A few weeks ago I blogged all about ‘me yelling at the kids‘. And this is a little update on that story.

A trailing tantrum-throwing-toddler. Look closely.

I got in a bit of a muddle over the whole thing. I started to really question my whole approach to being a foster parent and honest-to-god gave a huge amount of thought to the fact that maybe this is not for me. Maybe, I have made a huge mistake in taking on the two extra foster kids? Perhaps I should not be offering respite to foster kids if I cannot keep from roaring and shouting at them in order to keep them all in line.

Always. Even in the pouring rain, Coole Park pathways stay dry.

So, I did what I always do when I get in a jam. I went for a very long walk. A bag packed full of tayto and treats, I headed off to Coole Park with the kids who were all belting out John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’. Do not judge me for liking a bit of country music.

 

Ah. Evidence of Autumn already.

Not all the kids were happy about the walk. Five out of six were elated to experience the freedom Coole Park offers, with its lengthy wandering walkways. The littlest of the group decided to rant and scream and throw the worst and most almighty tantrum I have ever witnessed. And I have witnessed quite a few tantrums in my time.

Run rabbit run!

Keeping a healthy pace, we spent two lovely hours hiking though the woods and conjuring up trolls to keep every one on their toes. The toddler, who lagged behind us the whole time, eventually stopped crying and even tried smiling towards the end of the hike.

Should I be a bit scared of the woods? No dear. Not until dusk falls.

The behaviour of these kids is far from exceptional. Sometimes, they are downright bold. But, when taken out in public — with the kid to parent ratio being 6:1 —  not only did I not have the need to raise my voice, I found myself just enjoying being their playmate for a few hours instead of having to be the boss of all of them. They were just that good.

 

I am the Queen of cuteness...and want to work for 'The Gap' when I grow up. Purely for the employee discount!

I asked my eight year old daughter Rory (above) what makes me a better parent and without hesitation she said ‘fostering’  followed with ‘I am going to be a foster Mom when I grow up’.

Grown ups are strange. A partner might argue with you over the silliest of things, a parent might take offense if you do not live your life according to their plan for you, and friends, not grasping just how complicated your world really is, might judge you unfairly.

Children, on the other hand, see you for who you really are. They see your faults and failings, your weakness’s and wrongdoings, your slip ups and short comings. And because they are kids, not afraid to just be who they are and are encouraged to be true to themselves, they honour you in the most treasured way.

By wanting to be ‘you’.

I suppose at this point I am starting to feel less like Joan Crawford in ‘Mommy Dearest‘ and more like Florence Henderson in ‘The Brady Bunch‘.

Ok. Down to business. Very very soon I will hit my 300th post. WordPress (with whom I host my blog) keeps reminding me that this is a HUGE-BIG-DEAL so there will be a few presents and prizes for those of you that have been commenting and reading over the last few years.

As a little teaser here is a partial list of goodies and giveaways that I have accumulated so far. There are a few more to be added to the pile before the end of the month. All you have to do is make sure you are subscribed via the email link on the RIGHT side of the blog.

Gift Certificates, Books and a few more goodies

€100 gift certificate to Garrendenny Lane

€100 gift certificate to Burren Smoke House

 

 

€50 gift certificate to Kai Restaurant (in Galway)

Bake & Decorate by Fiona Cairns

And there are a few more goodies like a (small but deadly) digital camera and some gift certificates to some of the favourite culinary stores like Dean & DeLuca, Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table and good old Anthony Ryans here in Ireland.

I know that this seems like a lot of stuff to be giving away but 300 blog posts is a big deal to me really. A lot of bloggers I know (and love) go back and delete old posts or edit and re-write them to make sure their work always look ‘book ready’. If you ever do manage to troll back all the way to 2007 you will see that I still can’t spell for shit but have made a small improvement in my storytelling skills and my grasp on capturing the essence of our food and family life from behind the lens is getting a little more, ah, focused.

I am so grateful to you, all my readers, and especially those of you that comment and keep sending me emails with words of encouragement. This is just my way of saying thanks.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

Apricots in a raspberry mint bath………..happy hour will be interesting. 

We have had so many little foster kids coming and going over the course of the summer thus far that I have had to make a list of all their names and ages to keep track of who they all are.

Typically, when a child comes to the house for a day, a weekend or a few weeks, I steal a few minutes of time with the social workers (or foster mum if I am offering another foster family respite care) to ask the usual questions you would ask if any child was coming to spend a bit of time at your house.

Sample questions might include:

1.     Can they wipe their own butt?

2.     Do they have a snookie or blankie that they cannot live without and should this item         be lost, burned or misplaced is there a replacement or an in-case-of-emergency                     object that will suffice?

3.     Do they have any food allergies?

You get the drift. Just basic need-to-know kind of stuff for any Mum.

A few weeks ago, two cuties were dropped of for a little over two-week stay at Chez Wise and their foster mum and I had a nice long chat. She and I share the same parenting ethos so it was refreshing to chat with another Mum (of 6 kids!) about trying to keep harmony in the home with foster kids abound.

She gave me all the necessary details about her little kiddies and right before she left she shared with me that one of the kids might present as a little slow or mentally disabled. I took this on board, but have to tell you that when I hear people say this about kids-in-care my first reaction is to always NOT believe them.

Kids in care present in many different ways and yes, of course it is possible that there are kids with disabilities. Based on our experience most of the kids just need a sold diet of routine, healthy food, exercise and a whole lot of love and some extra cuddles thrown in.

They, are not the ones with problems. They are the ones that have to carry the weight of their parents problems. They come with ‘baggage’.

So, here I was with this little fella (age 5) and I paid closer attention to him the first few days just to see if her observations might be right.

This is an excerpt of a conversation I had with the little guy a few days ago. I was handing him a pair of pants and a shirt and instructing him to get dressed. Keep in mind he is five and sometimes giving instructions to any child with more than one or two ‘steps’ to carry out can be a challenge.

Me:    Hey buddy. Can you go upstairs, put your jammies back under your pillow so you                can find them tonight, and get dressed please?

Him:  Yes.

He ran off. Most kids under the age of ‘tween’ run everywhere.

A few nano-seconds later he arrived back down to the kitchen where I was drinking tea and eating bon-bons, as you do when you are an average  under achieving parent like me.

He was still wearing his jammies and his nice and freshly ironed clothes were no where to be found.

Me:     Hey buddy.  How come you did not get dressed? Where are your clothes?

Him:  I don’t know?

Me:    (thinking – ah, god help us, he is a little slow) Oh. Ok. Well. Let’s try again shall        we?

I knelt down in front of him and explained it all over again.

Me:     Ok. You go get your clothes that you put under the pillow and wear them. Then     just leave your jammies on your bed. Alright?

Him:    Ok.

A few nano-seconds later after a run up and back down the stairs, he is standing  in front of me again, still wearing the jammies.

Now, ordinarily, I would get frustrated at this point, because a child of five should be able to at least get dressed by themselves. But, God love him, he was obviously struggling with comprehending my instructions.

So I sidelined the bon-bons and coffee for later and walked with him hand-in-hand up the stairs so we could attempt it together.

As we were walking up, I reiterated what the task was and how we would accomplish this together. The dream team.

When we get up to his room, and I start to undress him and start looking for his ‘clothes’ which I found neatly folded under his pillow (bless the little guy) he looks up at me all perplexed and asked ‘why he had to wear jammies‘?

I, now feeling a little worried about the por wee fella, explained that we were putting his jammies away under the pillow and he was getting dressed in his ‘clothes’ for a day of fun.

Him:  ‘Yes. But mammy – those are my jammies’ says he pointing the nice neatly ironed clothes I had given him.

Here is a little hint for all you foster mum’s out there. When kids come to your house for a day or a weekend or a month – instead of asking all the questions just rifle through the bags and sort out jammies from day clothes. This will help you avoid rushing to the assumption that a child might be slow – because someone else said so.

Epic fail on my part.

Feeling not so ‘Wise’ Móna today………..

 

 

 

Oh. I know. Who the hell is Willy, right? Well, if you go back to March of 2010 (when I was just a baby first year in University – says she, now a more seasoned and wiser third year) I wrote a blog post about a surprise visiting writer we had the pleasure of spending seven minutes in heaven 72 minutes of class with.

His name was Willy Vlautin. I was dreaming and drooling over him for weeks after. Major major crush. Good thing I married a guy just like him or I’d still be dreaming of the day when Willie would come back to Galway and ask me to run away with him.

Well, back in Galway he is for the Galway Arts Festival and thanks to one of my friends from college, who phoned last week to say ‘keep Tuesday night free, I already bought the tickets’, I got to swoon sigh drool see him again tonight at the Hotel Meyrick where he did a reading and participated in a Q & A chat with none other than Roddy Doyle himself. Can you say dream team or what?

Willie must have gotten wind that I was well and happily married, hence the fact that he has not asked me to run away with him, and I am reluctantly coming to terms with that. Although the Chef does not read the blog, he is well aware of my Willy crush and thankfully indulges my fixations. He is a good husband.

 

Now, I am sure you have read Roddy Doyles work and seen plenty of Roddy Doyles movies, but how many times have you heard him read a piece of his own work or heard him offer advice to a room full of budding writers?

This blog post started out as another huge droolfest over my crush-on-Willy but truth be told, Irish man Roddy swooped in and stole the show. Of course he did.

Both read from their work with such ease and eloquence that you were transported into the lives of their characters within seconds. Roddy, reading a short story called ‘Animals’ laughed at his own work whilst reading to us. We laughed too. He injects humor into his work so stylistically and never misses the opportunity to send a poignant message in the last gasp of the story that hits you in the gut. A craftsman for sure. Hats off Roddy Doyle. This was my first time seeing him ‘live’ and I am sure it will not be my last.

Willy read a few pages of his newest book ‘Lean on Pete‘ and although I had heard him read before, I was probably too caught up in having a crush on him to have really listened to what he was really saying. Willy writes about ordinary people, living ordinary working class lives, in America. There is such a lovely familiarity to his soft voice. I could listen to him all day long talking about pick up trucks and road trips across America. But, and I think I mentioned this last time I wrote about him, it is the humbleness of this author that I am drawn to. He is great. He can write. Roddy Doyle likes his writings and loves his music. Yet Willy just sits back in his armchair and never for one moment expects a rousing round of applause. The audience loved him. My hands hurt from clapping and my sides hurt from laughing and my face aches with the strain of smiling all night.

The last question of the Q & A part of the evening came from a young school teacher who posed the question to the duo about how to encourage the youth of today (esp. young teens) to become voracious readers with the hopes that we will breed another generation of great writers.

I thought this was an excellent question and even grasped from her tone that she was (perhaps rightly so) very concerned about the fact that kids today are not reading enough and playing computer games and messing about with all the social media tools and games too much. I was dying to hear the response.

‘Bring back corporal punishment’ said Roddy Doyle. The crowd went wild in response to this one!

After the laughter had subsided ‘Nothing to worry about at all’ said Roddy. Imagine that! He reckons that kids are reading, maybe not with book in hand, but they are reading on the internet, and keeping abreast of the happenings of the world without ever reading a newspaper.

New generations bring new ways of learning.

Willy could not match Roddy’s response and just shyly said ‘I’m moving in’ to Roddy and the audience gave them a rousing round of applause which brought the evening to a close.

Have you bought tickets for any of the events at the Galway Arts Festival? It is not too late! Have a look at their website and get out there and support the Arts!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,

WiseMóna

P.S. This is my 295th post.

WordPress keeps telling me that hitting the 300th post is a big thing so I plan on celebrating a little with a bunch of giveaways. A few things shiny, a few things pretty and a few nice surprises. So, if you are not already signed up to receive WiseWords via email (enter your email address in the little box on the top RIGHT hand side of the page) you might want to do so now to be in with a chance to win something! AND if you want to double your chances then ‘like’ the Facebook page for WiseWords.

 

 

Lobster Bisque

Local Lobster and Crab

The problem with having a lot of kids that are encouraged to ‘eat what Mum & Dad prepare for them because there will be nothing else‘ is that your kids develop great (and sometimes expensive) taste in food at a very young age.

It has gotten to the point where I very rarely take the kids shopping with me because something will catch their eye at the market and before you know it you end up back at the house with a bucket full of shellfish when I only went out to buy a few litres of milk.

Very selective in her dining choices...

To say we are spoiled for choice when it comes to having access to local and very seasonal fish on this island is an understatement. AND, although I did not know this, Lobster is in season and at its cheapest right now! So get out there and take advantage of it.

Can't decide.......so I'll just have both!

We still have a few extra kids lingering here at Chez Wise bringing our total from ten under the age of ten (last week) to only six kids for the next week. Notice how I said only six kids. Clearly a piece of my brain has been sponged away with the gin. Notice I said only gin, this is because I am no longer using tonic.

Might be my favourite photo of my niece Keira to date.

My niece and nephew also fall into the category of ‘kids that eat everything’ mostly because that is how they are raised. And also because they play outside all day long with our kids and when they get to the table they are so famished they would eat your hand! I love hungry children!

And this might be my favourite photo of my nephew Raemonn. The Lobster started flapping!

Friday night came and went with a promise of me cooking dinner for the Chef et al, but I forgot that he would have to do all the work cracking open all the shells and helping the kids get the meat out of the claws. He he he – I had to give him an extra beer to muffle all the harumpfing he did.

Cooked and ready for a bath of melted butter.

The easiest way to eat the lobster and crab is to lightly boil them (alive when you drop them in) in salted water for up to ten minutes. Get the meat out of the shells and drizzle with warm melted butter. Serve with a fresh summer salad and a loaf of warm bread. No need for anything fancy here. That comes for lunch tomorrow!

Dinner was a large garden salad with Lobster and Crab meat

Lobster Bisque

Shells, claws etc. from lobster, crab

4 tablespoons of tomato paste

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of paprika

4 cloves garlic (chopped finely)

2 shallots (chopped finely)

1/2 cup of Hennessy cognac (or your fav. brandy will do)

1 cup heavy pouring cream

Salt & Black pepper to taste

Smash the shells with a mortar and pestle to help release more flavour.

Method

Break up the shells as best you can. We put all our shells into a plastic bag and smashed them roughly with a hammer.

Sauté the garlic and shallots in a little olive oil. Add the shells and the paprika, cayenne pepper and tomato paste. It should look really red in colour and the house should smell like Lobster bisque! Mix it well with a wooden spoon and once it has cooked a bit, deglaze with the cognac.

Cover the shells with water and bring to the oil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and leave to cool overnight.

The next day strain off the liquid stock from the shells into a nice large pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.

Make a roux and add to the stock to help thicken your bisque. Add the cream and the bisque is ready.

Egg salad on toast makes for a nice kid-friendly lunchtime snack

This Lobster Bisque is in-your-face packed full of flavour. We threw in a bit of salvaged crab claw meat and a half bag of small shrimp just to give it a bit of texture but it needs nothing else. One of my all time favourites and perfect for lunch!

Lobster Bisque with a dollop of Creme Fraiche

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this afternoon as one of my friends has just popped in a for a visit and the kettle is on!

WiseMóna

It is true.

The following line is best read if you use the voice of Sophia from Golden Girls.

Picture it. Cincinnati, Ohio. 2003; A few weeks before we were ready to open our restaurant.

You can go back to your own reading voice now.

I had finished and signed the last piece of paperwork to sign up to adopt a baby in Ohio. They gave us a nod of approval and a nice window of three to five years of a wait. This was all going according to my plan. At the time I had been a Wedding Planner for ten years. I had a lot of plans and was organised and a control freak. Things usually went according to my plan.

That same day, only a few hours after dropping off the paperwork, I got a call from the social workers telling me there was a five-day old baby girl they were ear marking for our ‘family’ and they felt sure the birth mother would think we were the right choice. I politely said ‘no thanks’ because we were getting ready to open the restaurant and there was no-way-no-how I could be a Mom (to someone else’s baby) and a wife to a demanding Chef and a bartender/hostess with the mostest at our lovely restaurant.

You might wonder, how is it that we ended up with a baby and a restaurant all at the same time? Well, that my friends is His story and I am certain that at some point he will take the finger out and tell it like it really happened.

Anyway, the reason for the title is telling, no doubt. I am sitting in a bowl of the doldrums these days with something that is weighing heavily on my mind. And unlike most people who like to keep all their problems private, I feel that sometimes the only way  I can get this figured out is if I air my dirty laundry and get it of my chest.

I am a yeller. It is how I get all these kids attention. For the most part it works.

My kind of yelling is the ‘Jack, get of the roof of the shed’ kind of yelling. Except it is usually more like ‘JACK! Get of the ROOF of the ^&*%($@ shed, NOW!)

Ok, and now you know, I am a swearer.

I do not yell hurtful comments or say hateful things to the kids. That would just be mean and I am not that mean. I am a bit of a softie actually. And after I yell at them, I feel rotten. Like my guts slither onto the floor and I am wrecked with guilt for hours or until I have to yell at them again.

The thing is, and this is a doozey folks, one of my oldest and bestest friends does not like being around me anymore because I yell when she (and her child) are visiting.

Usually things like ‘stay out of the house, we are having grown up chat’ or ‘Jack, stop hitting your sister with a tennis racket’ …ha ha, no, ‘with a hurley‘ – we so do not play tennis. Jack is getting a bad rap here, I know, but that is just because he is my only boy and it would not be fair the pick on the Foster kids and let’s face it, Rory is just so darn good and obedient you would never have to as much as raise your eyebrow to keep her in line. (This is the biggest lie I have ever written. The part about Rory being good, that is).

Do not be fooled by this innocent look folks. He is all boy!

So, I am in a bit of a quandary folks. We don’t spank. It is not all that fashionable these days and the Chef came from a belt wielding parental unit so it suits neither of us to use that method. I do most of (but not all) of the yelling. When I queried the Chef about my yelling habits, as I am genuinely concerned now that I might be causing serious psychological damage to that all these amazing kids in our lives, he insisted that the yelling is not extreme at all, it is just the high pitch at which it is delivered at. Well, I know I am loud and am willing to offer a lower pitched tone, no problem. He also noted, that he does a lot of the yelling and will make a more concerted effort to relieve me of my parenting duties next time we have company. What a love, isn’t he though?

Having just spent a week with siblings (my sister and her four kids and my brother and his two kids) I came to the conclusion that we all parent exactly the same. So, what this all boils down to is simple. It is all my Mother’s fault. Clearly.

She yelled at us. To be honest, she just yelled at me the other day. I am sure, actually, if she were ever to be so unfortunate as to be struck with some rotten disease, it would be a disgusting throat infection that has been festering for a very long time from all the roaring and shouting she did when we were growing up.

She also broke A LOT of wooden spoons chasing after us. Why is it then, that I am not psychologically damaged by it.

OR AM I?

Do I need to get in to therapy and delve back 20 + years to figure out that really, the root of all my problems stems from having a Mum that shouted at me till she was blue in the face? Ah, no. I do not think so. AND, hello? Who the heck said I had problems anyway?

What has spurred me to spill the beans was something that happened earlier this morning. I was outside playing the the kids. Ok, maybe I was not playing ‘with’ them, but we were all golfing on the lawn or in the sand pit or hanging laundry. My youngest (foster kiddie, age 5) was flying around the house on her bike and I told her to slow down because the postman usually passes through around 11am ish and I wanted her no where near his truck. She kept going, and I kept telling her to get into the grass. She did what she was told eventually and hopped on the swings. Yeah! No shouting. I am an AWESOME parent! Woo hoo!

I carried in the laundry basket and heard the postman’s truck drive in the driveway and just because I am, let’s say ‘tuned in’ I glanced over at the swing only to see swinging empty………laundry basket dropped, tripped over patiently-waiting-for-snack duck, I bolted around the corner and yelled for all my life was worth to get her attention SECONDS before the postman’s truck all but reversed right over her.

Yes. I yelled at her. I know. I am no longer an awesome mother. I suck at this. I also hugged her and cried and told her that I would die if anything ever happend to her and then I asked her WHY (and this was in a high-pitched tone folks) the heck did she run out after the post truck when I had just told her not to. Why? ‘because I was bold’….that was all she gave me then she trotted off back to the sand box to play with the others and I went inside and made lunch.

Something with salad perhaps?

I am hoping that all the yummy mummy’s and dapper dads will bombard me with comments and tell me how horrible and insensitive I am, that I need to revisit my decision to be a parent, that I am a perfect example of what ‘not to do’ and then (because you are the experts) share with me all the more effective ways you can parent FOUR (or more) kids without hitting the high notes. I am not to old to learn new tricks, but am not willing to let them run circles around me either.

Leftover homemade buttermilk fried chicken with salad

 

We are, after all, outnumbered.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.  I am going to bury my head in the sand and hope for a quieter tomorrow.

WiseMóna

 

%d bloggers like this: