Wild Atlantic Words with Jess Murphy

Text message 18/9/2019
‘I’ve totally f*****d up my dates and double booked myself, and I’m too scared to call you, have ya got a backup plan?’

There is no backup plan for the brilliant Jess Murphy, our very special guest for this years ’WILD ATLANTIC WORDS‘ literary festival here in Castlebar. nd so, the issue of the originally double-booked date was overcome by simply organising the event for a few days earlier

Jess is head chef and along with her husband Dave, is co-owner of KAI café and restaurant on Sea Road in Galway.
Approaching its 10th year, KAI (‘nestled in between a church and a gay bar’), this Galway icon has received countless awards, including a Michelin BIB Gourmand.

For years, Jess has been a noted and consistent champion of small Irish food producers, and this work was recognized last year when she was announced as the Blas na hEireann food champion 2019.

As Irish Times food columnist, her literary credentials for the WILD ATLANTIC WORDS FESTIVAL were undoubtedly in place, but it was also very exciting to hear Jess tell us about her work with a project that documents the food stories of the many immigrants and nationalities that now call Ireland their home. ‘Here’ promises to be a unique recipe collection which Jess hopes will be in print by next year.

Enthusiastically engaging with the ‘Desert Island Disc’ format of the evening, Jess also revealed for us her 5 favourite cookbooks/ food writers which she listed as follows …

‘Crazy Water, pickled lemons’ by Diana Henry
‘The prawn cocktail years’, by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham
‘You’re all invited’ by Margot Henderson

‘Moro’ by Sam & Sam Clarke

‘The Kitchen Diaries’ by Nigel Slater

Discussing her love for these books and the recipes therein, Jess simultaneously gave us an account of her culinary journey to date from New Zealand to Galway. It was a great evening, with plenty of wonderful stories, and we’re extremely grateful to Jess for making the trip to us in Castlebar despite having to change her dates, come via Tullamore and nurse a full-on dose of the flu.

She left us with the promise to return for a Friday night pop up sometime in 2020 and with an Apple tart in hand, baked by Ann Mc Mahon earlier that day in her honour.


Our 80’s Dinner party menu 

The starting point was the dessert trolley.

What followed was weeks of arguing over the details and dishes that would make for a night aiming to capture an era when going out for your supper really was a bit special. 

Tempting as it was to produce a truly authentic 10 page 80’s menu with hundreds of dishes ‘From the land’, ‘From the sea ‘ etc, choices had to be made. After much debate, we ended up with a menu including  Garlic Mushrooms (with the sauce of a Thousand Islands), deep fried brie, Steak Diane, Chicken Cordon Bleu and a vegetarian ‘Surprise’. 

Even though several speeches were made on behalf of Melon fans, Chicken Kievs, Racks of lamb and orange juice (as a starter), these classics failed to make the final cut. 

As mentioned, the star of the night was the trolley which featured a Strawberry flan, black forest roulade, profiteroles and a bowl of raspberry jelly with Chantilly cream.  We were also keen to include a Bailey’s cheesecake, an arctic roll and a knickerbocker glory but our moderate sized trolley was starting to buckle under the pressure. Now that’s what I call an Eighties dinner party Part 2 is already being discussed.

Music similarly presented choices for the night.. Our only collective memory of eighties restaurant music was ‘The magic Richard Clayderman’ and Phil Coulter’s ‘Sea of tranquillity’, which magically came in the post when you decided to open a  restaurant. 

We ignored this inconvenient truth for the night in favour of putting together a playlist with all our faves including Prince, Squeeze, The Style Council and Prefab Sprout.

Thanks to everyone who came to our night of retro fun. We hope you enjoyed the food and the tunes.

Is it too soon to start talking about the nineties?


The Mayo Ingredient….and Street Food Festival

Drawing it’s inspiration from our county’s larder, we’re running two cookery demos over the month of June entitles ‘The Mayo Ingredient’.

Both demos will include recipes featuring wonderful local produce from the likes of Velvet Cloud (yogurt and cheese), Achill Sea Salt, Gerry Hasset’s smoked fish, Kelly’s puddings, vegetables from Glasraí, eggs from Claremorris and much more.

At the first of the demos on Wednesday June 5th, we’ll be visited by Breda from Cuinneog Dairy and making some fruit soda bread, ice cream and a salad dressing using their wonderful buttermilk.

At our demo on Tuesday 18th, we will be joined by Fiontann from Wildwood Vinegars, and very much look forward to sampling some of his amazing bottled wild flavours.

This latter demo is a fundraiser for the ‘Mayo Street Food Festival’, a wonderful one day event and gathering of local restaurants and producers to be held this year at Bridge Lane, Castlebar on Sunday, September 8th. In the lead up to the big day, the county town’s leading food and drink ambassadors are teaming up to host a series of exciting food events to raise much-needed funds for the festival. Events on the food series calendar between now and September will include this food demo but also foraging, a wine evening, food quiz, comedy bingo, and more yet to be announced. If you or your company would like to get involved and support the Mayo food scene by becoming a festival or event sponsor, please get in touch by emailing mayo.street.food.fest@gmail.com.

Both of our demo evenings include supper, a glass of wine and notes from the demonstration. Limited tickets priced at €35 must be bought in advance for each evening are available by calling our delicatessen on 094 9286072. Demo starts at 7.30 pm.

Our demo on the 18th is a fundraiser for Mayo Street Food Festival, which takes place in Castlebar on Sunday 8th September.


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