Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Martine's, Galway

"Martine's Heart Coeliacs", says the menu. 

I Heart Martine's, too.

We arrived at the bar downstairs, waited for a small throng in front of us to be turned away disappointed, and proudly announced that we had a reservation.  We were immediately shown up an unglamourous staircase ('Oh rubbish, they're going to stick us in the overflow') into an intimate, low-lit space ('Score!').  Offered our choice of table, we selected one at a jaunty angle to the bay window so both of us could look down onto colourful Quay Street.  Our coats were taken from us, and we were left comfortably to ponder the menu as well as some fun art by Martine herself.
In Galway, you just have to go for oysters.  Shunning the baked alternative, I went for six plainly presented Galway Bay oysters, served with parsley and a wedge of lemon.  These bad boys were fresher than fresh, barely a briney scent; they tasted minerally and then sweet and perfumed.  I was in heaven.  Sarah had the chicken liver pâté, which she awarded a confident 8/10.
Martine's excels in both turf and surf.  Cuts of steak and catches of fish vary daily, and are displayed on a chalk board.  Our waitress recommended the cheapest fish dish on there, wild plaice, for its buttery, flaky flesh - and man alive was she right.  Served on a bed of mushroom risotto, it sang an uncomplicated but beautiful solo.  'For research purposes', I sampled Sarah's steak - robust flavour and cooked perfectly, served with sweet slow-cooked onions - and chips - earthy, chunky, golden, a solid B+ grade from a tough marker.
Filling fare to restore and comfort at the end of a frosty day's exploring the West.  No dessert required (the bill was presented along with mini chocolate brownies), but we enjoyed a glass of wine each.  Sarah had an easy-drinking French Les Jamelles 2010 Merlot, and I surprised us both by opting for a crisp, dry Italian with a name I can't remember.  Very decent wine list. 
All in all, a quintessentially Galwegian dining experience: friendly, self-assuredly Irish with a Latin twist, top-notch local produce from land and sea, and memorable for all the right reasons.

Martine's menu is mostly coeliac-friendly or can be made so with a few minor tweaks.  Staff are helpful and knowledgeable about gluten-free food.  Highly trustworthy and coeliacs won't feel limited in their menu choices.

Starters €5-12, Mains €12-30, Wine by the glass €5-7.50  (Lunch menu also available)  21 Quay Street, Galway, Ireland  00353 91 565662

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Women Bishops: They Think It's All Over ...

Sorry for the long absence.  I've had two essays to write, and I read far too much and it took weeks to get under control.

So, women bishops.  I won't lie to you, I was bitterly disappointed.  But we (if I can include myself as a CofI not CofE member) are not back at square one.  By the sound of some reporters and commentators, you'd think the church had just decided a woman's place is in the home.

First of all, the vote was lost only very, very narrowly, and it will most likely pass next time round.  Pity that's a few years off, but hey we have to work with the system we're in.

Secondly, in all three Houses (Bishops, Clergy and Laity) there was a strong majority in favour.  The Church is overwhelmingly pro-women bishops.  Support is strongest among the most senior figures in the Church, with both Archbishop Williams, Archbishop Sentamu and Archbishop-Elect Welby.

Thirdly (aren't I organized), the very fact that the CofE is talking about a change that is monumental in its history, speaks volumes about its willingness to change and learn.

Fourthly, isn't it great that the Church has the opportunity now to work even harder to get things right and bring opponents along with supporters?  If this were to be pushed through earlier than people are ready for it, then it might cause more conflict.  Bear in mind also that the arrangements for espiscopal oversight for people who can't accept a female bishop have to be got right.  If the wrong arrangements are made in order to get this through faster, we could end up with women as a lower tier of bishops.

Conflict and diversity of opinion are inevitable, and mature people and organizations can handle them.  So, hats off, Church of England, for talking it all through.  Critics are talking of a dead church, but as Sentamu said yesterday, dead bodies don't talk.

The same issues were around in Paul's time, and he knew that as a secondary issue (not meaning unimportant, but not fundamental to proclaiming Christ) different cultural allowances and checks might be necessary for the sake of unity, all the while maintaining his firm belief that:

              There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither
              male nor female; for you are all one in the Messiah, Jesus. (Gal. 3:8)