Gorey welcomes Vivien Copeland back to her hometown – and she brings with her a new approach to eating: good mood food.
“We can mix and match what you’re used to – with a twist,” says Vivien, who started Spoonita cafe on the Main Street at the beginning of 2019. “For instance, our sausage rolls are extremely popular. They contain goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, spinach, a little bit of black pudding and, yes, sausage meat. We want to allow people to understand flavours – that there is another way to eat food, which is about taste.”
Taste – and the opportunity to sample – is core to the philosophy at Spoonita. “We put a tiny spoon of salad garnish on every plate and the plates are coming back clean. Next time they’re in, the customers order a salad. If you look at the menu and you’re not sure about an option, we give you a taste of it so that you can decide. We’ve had one man coming in every morning for breakfast – and now he’s eating overnight oats and has given up on fries.”
That’s the deal at Spoonita – no fries, no chips – no full Irish breakfast (instead, you can have Spoonita’s sausage and bean casserole). A scone comes with ricotta cheese and homemade compote, instead of cream and jam – reducing your sugar intake whilst introducing you to new flavours!
“Life is all about balance – we see Spoonita as a place where you have options, and we’re happy to create what people are looking for. In March, when our new chef joins us, that will allow us to develop our menu more, including options for diabetics which customers are looking for.”
Options already on offer include power bowls, naked salads, breakfast smoothies (high fibre, high protein, full of tofu, cashew nuts, dried nuts – a fave of commuters, along with the overnight oats), dairy free, gluten free, reduced sugar. All tasty, all flavoursome, all filling, all healthy, all designed to get you thinking about what you eat and enjoying the new experience.
What’s in a name?
So, where did the name Spoonita come from? “Spoonita came from a love of spoons,” says Vivien, who’s in the kitchen every morning at 5am! “And the ‘ita’ is an invitation to apply – and is the Italian word for ‘small’. So, we’re inviting you to come through the yellow door and apply your spoon to good food.”
And the staff – Spoonies of course! “We look after the staff so that they will give the customer the experience we want them to receive – to explain our options. And we shop local for all our ingredients – and the elements that went into making the café. I’ve been blown away by the support of local business people, especially Cullens Fruit & Veg, Michael Gleeson of the Loch Garman Arms Hotel, Sarah Brennan of Liam Brennan Hardware, Derek Webb of Sprint Design, John O’Brien, our local Glanbia milk supplier, and House of Cards to name but a few.”
Vivien has also started a possible tourist attraction – the walls on the stairway are home to loads of wooden spoons, each with a story or name attached. “The spoons have been donated by people – my grandmother’s wooden spoon is there, for instance – and they’re associated with people’s memories of loved ones or memories of baking and cooking in the kitchen.
“As part of our community, we’re opening up the wall to the public to put their memories on the wall. We’re launching that in March – and for every spoon donated, you’ll get a free cup of our Fixx coffee! Hopefully, both walls will be filled with spoons and that will become a unique tourist attraction.”
In the meantime, Vivien, who learned to cook in her mother’s kitchen, is busy fulfilling her life’s dream to run her own kitchen. A farmer’s daughter, reared to understand the value of farm-to-fork on her parents’ farm (Edward and Valerie), Vivien’s knowledge and appreciation of good fresh food is first hand. Sister to Robin, Adrian, and Nevil, she has worked in kitchens in Frankfurt in Germany, Adare, and Dublin. She’s travelled through Asia with husband Michael Galkine, brought three children into the world, and is now bringing a new level of flavour to the taste buds of North Wexford.
Best of luck to Spoonita and all who eat in it!
Text and images: Deirdre O’Flynn