There are many little jewels hidden round the town, villages and countryside here in the West. I have written here before of the importance of having a few good recommendations to avoid the soulless food of the forecourts. In Loughrea, a town whose bypass has done it many favors as the traffic is not manic as years gone by, there is just such a jewel and a reason to pause there awhile.
|II Porcetto at Christmas time.|
Il Porcetto‘s dining area is divided into a number of small, cosy dining rooms. Nostalgic and rustic, it’s like a New York neighborhood Italian restaurant has been picked up and dropped on the main street of Loughrea. The rustic style red and white checked tablecloths bring to mind all the great Italian cinematic references, ‘The Godfather‘, ‘GoodFellas’ and ‘Lady and The Tramp‘. The owner seated us. Gavino, a native of Sardinia has one of those accents you could listen to all day long. Service is fast and efficient and comes with a charming smile.
The lunchtime starters are mostly bruschetta and there is a selection of mains of chicken, pork, steak or sea bass served with salad and a choice of rosemary potatoes or chips. Priced mostly at €8.99 and up to €15.50 for the beef, their prices are more than competitive. We had come purposely to try the pasta and pizza, however, as good friends of ours had been recommending them to us for some time. So try them we did.
A half portion of the Spaghetti Carbonara was the choice of the littlest one. There’s nothing like a good carbonara. Unfortunately, most carbonaras are nothing like a good carbonara either. Carbonara can be tricky to make well, mostly, I suspect, because it is so simple. Egg, cheese, cured pork, pasta and black pepper with little margin for error. This one arrived to the table as good as ever I have encountered. The plentiful, rich and creamy sauce coated the perfectly cooked pasta, all crowned with an avalanche of grated parmesan. I had to taste quite a bit of it you understand, to make sure it was not to hot for the little one. I am an exemplary mother.
The other little lady ordered the Pizza Margherita with a choice of two extra toppings. For €8, this 12″ was exceptional value with plenty for her and slices to share with me. The crust was fantastic, chewy, yeasty perfection. Spaghetti Cozze e Vongole for the current husband was a generous dish of pasta, again expertly cooked with fresh clams and mussels in a white wine sauce. The clams were plump and tender, the sauce bolstered with exactly the right amount of chilli to make it zingy, not stingy.
It being January and as I am on the obligatory diet, I had a salad. ‘Insalata Con Pollo’ an undressed mixed salad with grilled chicken and lots of parmesan shavings, provided to the table with balsamic in a bottle. It was nice, but I was a bit full after all the pasta and pizza I had stolen to properly enjoy it.
The ladies had a single scoop of good quality ice cream for dessert. Ice cream here comes in the three most important flavors, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla or ‘plain’ as we Irish call it. Desserts are made in-house and a small tiramisu was light and lovely. I celebrated the success of my diet with a dessert which proved to be the sole misstep of the meal. A chocolate panna cota, which had been overly gelatined. The set was far too solid and it had, alas, lost its wobble. The girls and I ate it anyway, it was chocolate after all.
|Desserts come on some lovely earthenware delph,
with not a slate or mirrored plate in sight.
Make sure to get to an ATM before you go as cards are not accepted. Don’t worry. You won’t need that much cash as our meal for four with one childs portion, fruit juice for the kids one coffee and desserts all round came to only €44.17. If you pass through Loughrea on business or pleasure and if you are hungry this is the place to go. The prices are modest for food of this quality and the room is picture postcard Italiano. I wish there was an Il Porcetto where I live.
Il Porcetto Ristorante, Pizzeria, Wine Bar. Main Street, Loughrea. Tel: 091 870 633
My new year’s ‘diet’ brings me nicely onto my next subject. I am, of course, a great believer in eating well and apart from the water we drink there is nothing more important than the food we consume. If it is fresh, healthy and free from man-made chemicals then it will help us stay happy and healthy. But it is surprising how difficult it is to accomplish the simple task of eating well.
This is the work of the people at Green Earth Organics farm. “People are busy and there are so many conflicting facts out there; sometimes it is hard to actually know what is good and what isn’t good for us,” said Kenneth Keavey of Green Earth Organics. “I like the idea of being able to turn to one place and get all I need to prepare great tasting meals, and know without having to look at labels that this is proper food; food that has the freshness and taste our grand-parents were used to.”
It is time to begin harvesting two of the year’s most sought after crops at the farm, purple sprouting broccoli and the first local fresh organic salad. You can get these delivered to your door at no charge in a lovely fresh organic veg box. Why not start the year in a convenient and healthy way? Get a box delivered to your door each week. There is no charge for delivery and I have found that when you know the produce is coming it encourages you to get into the kitchen and use it.
The good news is that you and I can order online today at www.greenearthorganics.ie (Get 10% off orders over €20 by using the code RF0519 when you order online) or by calling 091-793768.
Written for and published in the Galway Advertiser. January 10, 2013.