Happy Thanksgiving!! This year, Dan and I are celebrating at Dan’s favorite winery – Narbona in Carmelo, Uruguay. But last year, we celebrated in one of our favorite countries – Ireland! Particularly, Dublin & Galway – you can read about it here. In any case, I thought I would give you all a little gluttonous throw back regarding our food tour last Thanksgiving in Ireland.
Ireland often always gets a bad rap for its food – it’s bland, it’s not exotic, it’s just “meat and potatoes” – but I actually really enjoy real Irish food, particularly in Galway. On our prior visits, I’ve found the food to be super fresh, organic, and quite creative. So, since we were only in Ireland for 5 days, we signed up for a food tour in Galway to experience the best Galway had to offer in terms of food!
Galway Food Tours is a local company run by Sheena Dignam, who is extrememly passionate and knowledgable about Irish culture and food. Our tour – The Galway Food Tour – started strong at 11h30 with an Irish whiskey tasting (when in Ireland?) at McCambridge’s, one of the oldest stores in Galway and right on Shop Street (one of Galway’s main thoroughfares).
We started with a taste of Green Spot Irish whiskey that was finished in Bordeaux barrels. This whiskey retails for about €80 a bottle and for someone who does not like whiskey, I really enjoyed it. Very smooth and not a heavy alcohol taste. We paired the Green Spot with some really tasty Irish cheese with bits of nuts. I LOVE Irish cheese!
Our second tasting at McCambridge’s was of Irish “moonshine” – MICL Potín from County Galway. Potín is notoriously strong and sold off-market. Luckily this one was properly manufactured and it was paired with an excellent nutty cheese. To my delight, the poitín was not too crazy strong (I mean, it was like 11h45!). We paired the poitín with a second type of Irish cheese.
We completed our whiskey tasting at Cambridge’s with a Longueville House Irish Apple Brandy, which was my least favorite of the three. I really expected to enjoy this based on its name alone (who does not love apple cider), but it had too much of a boozy taste for me. The Apple Brandy was paired with some Irish beef and lamb charcuterie. The charcuterie was much better than the brandy in my opinion!
Thankful to have survived the whiskey tasting (I am NOT a whiskey lover), we moved on to our next stop, also on Shop Street, at one of Galway’s oldest bakeries – Griffin’s. Griffin’s is a legit iconic Galway spot that we missed the last time we were in Galway, so I was excited to try it! At Griffin’s, we sampled two foods – a very tasty carrot cake (my favorite) and a scone-like pastry – and learned the history of this historic bakery. Both of the foods were excellent, and we enjoyed it so much, we ended up coming back to Griffin’s on our way out-of-town!
After eating the treats from Griffin’s, we moved a few doors down on Mainguard Street to Le Petit Delice. Le Petit Delice is a newish French boulangerie in town and while we did not go in, our guide picked up some of their pastries for later in the tour. Our guide, who is part French and grew up in France, told us that the bakery is quite authentic and very popular in Galway!
We next stopped into one of Galway’s oldest bars, The Front Door, to try two Irish craft beers and Irish sushi. Yes, Irish craft beer and sushi. Before getting into the food and drink, The Front Door is an old Irish pub, decorated with posters from festivals in Galway and complete with lots of nooks and crannies in which to eat and drink – very historic. It’s definitely worth a stop even if you do not like beer!
We tried a couple Irish craft beers from The Front Door, and the stout was my favorite. However, nothing particularly blew me away; Irish breweries will be hard pressed to ever complete with Guinness in my opinion.
To pair with the beer, we were served Irish sushi. Yes, that’s crazy. However, the sushi was not bad. We were served two types of sushi – a vegetable sushi and a mackerel sushi. The mackerel sushi kind of weirded me out, but the vegetable one was quite good. Who knew people made sushi in Galway? Apparently, this sushi maker is all the rage in Galway these days, and you can often find it at the Galway weekend market.
After our sushi, we were served two traditional types of Irish open-faced sandwiches. The first was Irish salmon on Irish rye bread and topped with a dollop of cream and capers. The second was Irish salami served on hard bread and topped of pickles. Both of the sandwiches were very good and much more my speed than the sushi! The salmon, of which I am not always a fan, was really tasty and fresh.
We finished our time at the Front Door with the pastries that our guide picked up at Le Petit Delice. Everything was very delicious, and we were getting a bit full at this point in the tour… #hardlife.
Upon leaving The Front Door, we strolled for a while (thankfully to work off those calories!) until we came upon Hazel Mountain Chocolate, a store devoted entirely to chocolate from all over the world! Definitely an unexpected, yet totally interesting, stop on our tour! At Hazel Mountain chocolate we sampled some of its European hot chocolate – basically just decadent melted chocolate – and various kinds of chocolate. I would definitely recommend a stop here for chocolate lovers or shoppers – they have some things that would make great gifts. Also, this is a must for hot chocolate fans!
Our next stop was a bit of a stroll away again (which was great) and coincidently right next to our hotel (the Jury’s Inn Galway). And even more coincidently, we had been curious about this shop since we arrived!
Cupán Tea is a ridiculously cute cake and tea shop near the River Corrib and Ard Bia at Nimmo’s (another GREAT restaurant). As expected, Cupán Tea offers a large selection of coffee, teas, and homemade pastries. Our group was welcomed in the back, where the owner showed off her impressive collection of teas, most of which are for sale to go. We also tried the cutest and tastiest cupcakes that were matcha flavor, one of Dan’s favorites. On our way out, we caught glimpses of some of the other homemade goodies and they looked to die for. I will definitely make a stop here my next time in Galway.
After Cupán Tea, we crossed the River Corrib to the other side of Galway, which is not nearly as packed as the side that we were just on, especially in the winter! We walked a bit until we came upon one of Galway’s newer and better restaurants – Kai Café + Restaurant – to which the Galway Food Tour has a special connection.
At Kai, we were seated upstairs in a tiny room that seemed to be reserved just for special guests. Here, we were debriefed on the tour, received a free Galway mustard, and sampled a Galway favorite, toast with crab salad! I love this dish and first had it at Ard Bia at Nimmo‘s years ago. In short, it’s basically a crab salad (think tuna salad but with crab) topped on a open-faced slice of bread with some capers added in. This particular piece of crab toast was excellent and one of my favorites foods the entire trip!
In sum, the Galway Food Tour was solid. There was lots of food, more than enough for lunch and almost dinner, too. However, there could have been more drinks on an Irish food tour… Aside from the amount of food, this food tour definitely opens visitors up to quality Irish food, not the touristy kind that is so easy to find or the type that gets the horrible “potatoes” reputation. I really appreciated that. The tour also goes on an interesting walk though Galway, giving you the layout and some interesting history on the city. I recommend taking this tour early in your trip so that you can revisit some of your favorite spots!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Galway Food Tour: We did the Galway Food Tour, which is currently priced at €50/person, which is quite reasonable for the amount of food. Be sure to reserve online in advance, as the tours do frequently book up, even off-season. Wear walking shoes.
McCambridge’s of Galway: 8-39 Shop St, Galway, H91 T2N7, Ireland. Open daily 8h – 19h, 18h on Sunday, and 20h on Friday and Saturday. This is more of a “shop” than a restaurant or bar (its billed a a “fine wines and foods” shop.
Griffin’s: 21 Shop St, Galway, Ireland. Open 8h30 – 18h Monday – Friday, open at 8h on Saturday and at 10h on Sunday.
Le Petit Delice: 7 Mainguard St Co, Galway City, Gal Co., Ireland. Open daily 8h – 18h.
The Front Door: 8 Cross Street & High Street, Galway, Ireland. Open daily 11h – 2h.
Hazel Mountain Chocolate: 9 Middle St, Galway, Ireland. Open daily 10h – 17h, 17h30 on Saturday and Sunday.
Cupán Tea: 8 Quay Ln, Galway, Ireland. Open 10h – 18h daily.
Kai Café + Restaurant: 22 Sea Rd, Galway, H91 DX47, Ireland. Open Monday 12h – 17h, Tuesday – Friday 9h30 – 15h, 18h – 21h30, 10h30 – 15h, 18h30 – 21h30 Saturday, 12h – 15h Sunday. I suggest making a reservation. And, while on the other side of the River Corrib, Kai is a very doable walk from Eyre Square.
ON A BUDGET
Honestly, this tour is a good deal considering the tour and food that is included, and you cannot really recreate it exactly on your own, as the guide has relationships with all of the stores. If you are on a strict budget, Griffin’s and the Front Door are the less expensive options on the tour.