ArchiveJuly 10, 2022

Tramore (Seagull Bakery and Mezze)

Despite the chronic staff shortages, exciting new restaurants and cafés are popping up all around the country.

Tramore is definitely one of the new (ish) hot spots.  A few weeks ago, we made a pilgrimage to the seaside town just a few miles from Waterford city to visit the Seagull Bakery established by Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni Sarah Richards in 2013.

Her natural sourdough breads and viennoiserie are exceptional and they have now expanded into another branch in Waterford from the original premises into a new purpose-built bakery with a stunning view over the Back Strand and sand dunes of Tramore Beach.

The artisan bakery movement is definitely one of the most exciting aspects of the new Irish food revolution.

I reckon any reasonable size town in Ireland could support an artisan bakery nowadays.

I hadn’t been to Tramore for over 30 years, but it has always had a very special place in my heart.  Growing up in the midlands of Co. Laois is about as far away from the sea as it’s possible to be in Ireland.  The highlight of our summer was an occasional day in Tramore.  Mummy would roast a chicken, make a couple of loaves of soda bread and pack a delicious picnic.  Then 7 or 8 of us plus the picnic, buckets, shovels and spades would pile into the old Ford Zephyr or Zodiac car.  My little brother Tom often lay on the back window ledge. We didn’t care how squished we were…we were going to the seaside for the day, you’d be arrested nowadays!

Apart from the bakery, we had a delicious lunch at Beach house restaurant, many little plates of deliciousness.  Add it to your Tramore list.

And then we wandered into Mezze, just up the hill from the Seagull bakery.  Well, how about that for a tantalising surprise, a café and shop packed with the sort of ingredients often difficult to source plus a Middle Eastern Take Out offering lots of vegetarian and vegan options as well as the occasional meat special.

I was intrigued…The young couple behind Mezze are Dvir Nusery from Israel and his Irish partner Nicola Crowley.  They met on the side of a glacier in New Zealand and although they couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds, different foods, religions, cultures and climates, their mutual love of food, travel and passion to share their experiences with others created a bond.  They moved to Israel but after eight years, quit their managerial office jobs in Tel Aviv, packed their bags and left for Ireland with their two kids.  It’s a long story through Festivals, Farmers’ Markets, Pop Up cookery classes, but just before the pandemic they opened their own ‘bricks and mortar’ place in their new hometown of Tramore.

When I wandered into Mezze, I met Dvir and Nicola who are serving the sort of delicious, irresistible, Middle Eastern food, passed from generation to generation in families – falafels, shawarma, salads, dips made for sharing…

They carefully source vegetables and meat locally from farmers and growers and high welfare meat producers.

When I asked about sharing a recipe, Nicola told me shyly that they had just written a book which would be published in June.  I’ve just got a copy – it’s called ‘Middle Eastern Food Made to Share’ and self-published by Mezze in Tramore, how cool and resourceful is that.

Here are a few tempting recipes to seek out in the book. It really is full of dishes you’ll want to share with family and friends.

Middle Eastern Lamb Kebabs from Mezze

Nicola and Dvir say ‘This is our go-to for barbecues.  We rarely have a barbecue where these kebabs don’t feature and they’re always well received!’.  You can swap out minced beef for lamb.

Makes 10 – 12 patties to serve 4 – 6

450g (1lb) minced lamb

1/2 onion, finely chopped

20g (3/4oz) fresh parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped

20g (3/4oz) pine nuts (optional)

2 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon baharat* (see end of recipe)

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1/2 tablespoon sea salt

To Serve

Tahini Sauce


pita bread

grilled vegetables or salad

Mix all the ingredients together and form into small patties.

Barbecue on a grill or fry on a griddle pan for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Serve with tahini sauce, amba or pita and grilled vegetables or salad.

Baharat Spice Blend from Mezze

Meaning ‘spice’ in Arabic.  Use to spice up Middle Eastern kebabs, stews…

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Mix all the spices together and store in a jar in a cool, dark place. 

Tahini Sauce from Mezze

Made from crushed sesame seeds, tahini, the paste used for this recipe is found in sweet and savoury foods in the Middle East.

Add this sauce to salads as a dressing, use it as a dipping sauce or sandwich spread or drizzle over chargrilled aubergines or homemade falafel.

150g (5oz) tahini

150ml (5fl oz) water

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk all the ingredients together until well combined, then pour into a squeezy bottle or jar.  This will keep in the fridge for up to a week. 

Tip: reduce the amount of water in the recipe if you want a thicker dip. 

Amba from Mezze

Delicious with kebabs.

Amba is widely used in Israel on falafel, sabich or shawarma.  Its roots are in India, with a curry flavour from the fenugreek, and is thought to have come to Israel with Iraqi jews.  This is best used to spice up a sauce or dish. 

2 tablespoons fenugreek

1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon salt

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon amchoor (mango powder)

Grind all the ingredients together in a small food processor or with a pestle and mortar.  Mix the spice blend with a little water to form a pouring sauce. 

Chicken Shishlik (Shawarma Spiced Chicken Skewers) from Mezze

Ask your butcher to debone the leg and chop it into cubes for you to save you the trouble.  They don’t usually charge extra for this and it will work out cheaper and tastier than a chicken breast.

Serve 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon shawarma spice blend *(see end of recipe)

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 deboned free-range chicken legs or 8 deboned thighs, cut into 2-3cm (3/4 – 1 1/4 inch) cubes

If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water.  We like to use metal ones.

Mix the oil, shawarma spices and salt together in a large bowl.  Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat, then marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge. 

Heat your barbecue or griddle pan.

Skewer the chicken pieces, leaving enough room on the bottom of the stick to hold it.  Grill on the hot barbeque or griddle pan for 6-8 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. 

Shawarma Spice Blend

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

a pinch of ground nutmeg

Mix all the spices together and store in a jar in a cool, dark place. 

Persian Love Cakes from Mezze

The Persian Love Cake is thought to have been made for the Prince of Persia to make him fall in love with the baker.  The cake is gluten-free and dairy-free, so it can be enjoyed by many.  The cakes will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container. 

Makes 12 mini loaf cakes or muffins or 1 x 20cm (8 inch) cake

50g (2oz) raw pistachios

200g (7oz) ground almonds

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

200ml (7fl oz) sunflower or neutral rapeseed oil

4 free-range eggs


1 lemon

75g (3oz) caster sugar

3 tablespoons rosewater

Icing (optional)

1 tablespoon lemon juice, reserved from the syrup

2 teaspoons rosewater

1/2 tablespoon cold water (or more if needed)

150g (5oz) icing sugar

To Decorate

rose petals

chopped pistachios

Make the syrup first and allow to cool before the cakes are baked.

Juice the lemon into a measuring jug or small saucepan and reserve 1 tablespoon of juice for the icing.  Top up the juice with water to make 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) of liquid.  In the saucepan, combine the juice mixture with the sugar and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.  Take it off the heat, add the rosewater and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 160˚C/320˚F/Gas Mark 3.  Grease 12 mini loaf cake tins, a 12-hole muffin tin or 1 x 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with a little oil and line with non-stick baking paper if your tin tends to stick. 

Put the pistachios in a food processor and grind until they’re almost as fine as the ground almonds.  Don’t overdo it, though, or they’ll start to turn into a paste.  Add the ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, oil and eggs and pulse until just combined into a batter.  Pour the cake batter into the tin(s) and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes (or 30-35 minutes for a whole cake), until firm and golden brown. 

To make the icing, mix the reserved lemon juice with the rosewater and cold water.  Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and add the juice and rosewater mixture gradually, whisking until the icing is a thick pouring consistency.  Add more water or sifted icing sugar if needed. 

When the cake is baked, pierce it all over with a skewer and gently pour over the syrup.  Allow to cool a little, then remove from the tin(s) onto a cooling rack.  Place a tray under the cooling rack and once fully cooled, pour the icing over the top of the cakes, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.  Sprinkle with rose petals and chopped pistachios and serve. 

Limonana (Lemonade and Mint) from Mezze

This refreshing drink is found in cafés and bars all over Israel.  Sometimes it’s served as a drink or sometimes as a slushy.

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) lemon juice (approx. 3 lemons)

400ml (14fl oz) water

25g (1oz) fresh mint

lemon slices


Sugar Syrup

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) water

25g (1oz) fresh mint

Mix the sugar syrup ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened.  Once cool, remove the cooked mint leaves.

Put the syrup into a litre jug and add all the remaining ingredients.  Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice or sugar if necessary.

If you want to make a slushy, add the syrup and remaining ingredients, including the picked mint leaves, into a blender and blitz. 


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