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10 years on Spencer Street

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Time flies…

thumbnail_IMG_0847_sRGBThis year, Rua celebrates 10 years on Castlebar’s Spencer Street.  In 2008 the newspapers were filled with stories of the deepening worldwide recession yet, bolstered on by the support of our loyal customers and with a brilliant  team ready to take on the challenge, we opened the doors to our very sparsely stocked shop in the Autumn of 2008. When the tables and chairs arrived, our café opened above our deli several weeks later.thumbnail_IMG_0861-2

Since then, we are proud to run a shop that hosts the produce of a small army of great producers, many of them local. We have also aimed to celebrate this food on the daily changing menus in our upstairs café. It has been flattering and encouraging to have been acknowledged nationally over the last decade with Restaurant Awards for ‘Best Irish Café‘ and the ‘Bord Bia’ national ‘Just Ask’ award in 2016 for our promotion of local food. However, what we are mostly grateful for as a business is the repeat and valued custom from the people of Castlebar, our neighbouring towns and too, all those who include Rua as a pit stop for nourishment over the last ten years. We are still here because of you.

thumbnail_IMG_0864To celebrate the 10 years on Spencer street, we can think of no better way to say thank you to our customers than to celebrate some of the fantastic produce that have been ingredients to our business.

We have ten Rua shopping  bags filled with goodies to give away. To enter, simply come to our cafe on Spencer Street and anyone paying a bill from 10:00 am for €10 or over gets a chance to pick a lucky 10 ticket from the Lucky 10 bucket! 

10 yr hamper draw

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Margaret Hickey visits Rua

IMG_8059On an unseasonably warm October evening, we were privileged to host an evening event at Rua for our town’s ‘Wild Atlantic Words’ literary festival. Now in its third year, the programme this year was another wonderfully eclectic mix of authors from a wide spectrum of literary interest including Mary Robinson, Pat Mc Cabe and local historian Ivor Hamrock.IMG_7996

Our task at Rua was to add to the bill by inviting a recently published author, ideally based or hailing from the West coast of Ireland, and who would be able to entertain us with stories based on an expertise in matters of food or food history. To this end, we aimed high, and our first choice was to issue an invite to Margaret Hickey.  Based near Portumna, Margaret was a former editor of Country Living magazine, and also pursued a freelance writing career, contributing articles on food, drink and travel to most of the British national press, including The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Times.

Our shop had recently got hold of her most recent work ‘Ireland’s Green Larder’ and we had been enthusiastically promoting it to anyone with a passing interest in Irish food. Described as ‘A glorious ramble down the centuries telling the story of food and drink in Ireland’, the book is filled with wonderful stories and gems of information about our nation and its relationship with food and drink through the centuries.IMG_8258

We were delighted when Margaret graciously accepted our invite and came to see us at Rua on the Wednesday evening of the festival. Once the crowd gathered just after 7pm in the upstairs café on Spencer Street, Margaret wasted no time in launching into a catalogue of stories from the pages of her book, featuring information on how the Irish monks taught the French how to make cheese, and how our food story  began in Mayo’s Ceide Fields, established 1000 years before the Pyramids were built. There were also lots of questions from the interested attendees and debate ensured on our nation’s checkered history with eating fish and current appetite for offal.

It was a great evening, and we are very grateful to the Wild Atlantic Words committee for inclusion in the festival, and, of course, to Margaret for coming to speak and entertain us at Rua.

IMG_8260Read more about Margaret on the links below:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/a-crowdfunded-history-of-irish-cooking-1.2913265

https://unbound.com/books/irelands-green-larder/

 

Refugee Food Festival

RFF 10We were delighted to take part in the inaugural Irish Refugee Food Festival which took place RFF 5across the country throughout June.  The festival was the brain-child of Mayo woman Lisa Regan and Jess Murphy from Kai in Galway and saw 15 different restaurants in Ireland open their doors to chefs and bakers with refugee status, or refugee applications under consideration, allowing them to showcase their skills and share their culinary heritage.RFF 4

As part of the festival, Mabel joined us for 2 days cooking during the week of the week of June 18th. Originally from Cameroon, Mabel fled the West African nation in 2013 and is now based in Sligo. RFF 2We loved having Mabel share her wonderful recipes with us and we featured some of her wonderful dishes in our cafes and deli over the week. The Beef and Peanut stew went down really well as Wednesday’s hot pot, and those who attended the ‘Slow Food Mayo’ talk that same night loved  her canapés including the fried Plantain.RFF 7 Mabel also worked with Javier in New Antrim street and together, they developed a delicious Cameroon inspired sharing board for our Friday night supper. We also served some delicious Irish Mackerel, marinated in Mabel’s chili marinade that our customers loved.RFF 9

If you’re spending anytime in Sligo this summer, keep an eye out for the ‘Global Kitchen’ project which is run by Mabel, Binta and some other great cooks. They do pop ups at different venues including the Model Arts Centre, and hope to take the kitchen on the road nationally in 2019.RFF 1

Thanks to Lisa and Jess for including us and the introduction to the lovely Mabel. We’re already looking forward to next year’s festival.

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