We are a nation of sandwich eaters. Every cafe, counter, and hatch does its own variation, with ingredients ranging from withered lettuce to flash fried steak, from slathered 'spread' to flavourful aioli. But which is the best?
Last year the Hellman’s Best Sandwich Competition saw food establishments asking their customers to vote for their favourite sandwich in Ireland, and the people of Galway proved we were particularly fond of ours. The title of Ireland’s Top Sandwich went to The Cellar Bar on Galway's Eglinton Street. The Cellar won the day thanks to chef Aidan Cleary’s tempting Cajun spiced chicken ciabatta. The City of the Tribes also scooped a runner-up spot in the competition with the warm toasted ciabatta with beef medallions from McCambridge’s, proving that Galway is Ireland’s overall top spot for sandwiches. The three winners were awarded a trophy, and professional panini grills, which will come in handy for this year’s competition which is shaping up to be a lot tougher.
Taste Matters in Loughrea is a cheerful and hospitable bistro-style restaurant with friendly, welcoming, staff, great food, and a excellent list of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, craft beers, and ciders.
The food is a fusion of various cuisines with influences mainly from Irish, French, and Italian cooking, although their inspiration can come from anywhere. Among the dishes you may find delicious chowder, brie melt, grilled breast of duck, seafood medley, folded chicken, grilled salmon, or rib-eye steak.
It is no secret that the Irish love their tea. The Irish drink more of this hot beverage per capita than any other country. The presence of tea making facilities is considered essential in any hotel or bed and breakfast room and is offered at breakfast, 'elevenses', lunch, dinner, and any time in between. Lately we have even begun to embrace that very English tradition of afternoon tea. Legend has it that the ritual of afternoon tea owes its origins to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. As a young women in the early 1800s at this time, it was common to eat only two main meals a day, with breakfast scheduled in the morning and dinner taken late in the evening. When kerosene lamps were introduced in wealthier homes, eating a late dinner became increasingly fashionable, widening the long wait between meals.
Troubled by the daily hunger pangs, she very sensibly decided to schedule a time to take tea and a snack each afternoon, at first done furtively in her bedroom. Over time well-heeled acquaintances joined her and the idea of an afternoon tea gathering spread across high society and became a favourite pastime of ladies of leisure. Nowadays tea rooms and hotels in London and throughout the UK offer permutations of this centuries-old tradition. Not to be left out of an opportunity to have another cuppa, here in Galway we have a few afternoon teas of our own. You can take your tea while enjoying the old world elegance of the Hotel Meyrick in Eyre Square. The g Hotel offers a delicious tea in its three stylish lounges during the day. But the newest, and by far the best value at €12 per stand, at The Ardilaun the afternoon tea is more than a bargain. Served in the hotel’s comfortable lounge with an open fire, you settle into the plush couches with pillows as soft as marshmallows and are instantly transported from the hustle and bustle of Galway life to the middle of the countryside. Located in spacious leafy grounds, just off Taylor’s Hill, a pleasant stroll from either Salthill or the city centre, this tranquil setting, with beautiful gardens, is an institution in itself and the perfect venue to enjoy this most elegant mini-meal.