Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Hooker that will leave you wanting more

Usually in our blogs we cover seasonal food, food suppliers, recipes and mostly food based articles. This week however, seeing as the weather has already driven most of us to the drink already we would like to tell you a little bit about one of the smashing beers we stock in the restaurant. 

Aside from our extensive wine selection we have a number of beers and ciders for the non-wine drinkers, or those that fancy something different with their meal.

Galway Hooker is one beer that we are proud to stock, not just because of its local heritage, but because it stands on its own as a premium microbrewery beer that is consistently great, and is a great pairing for many of our dishes.

In its 6 years of production Galway Hooker has racked up some great awards including a "Best in Ireland" from the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, winner of the Irish Craft Brewers Award for Best Beer, and winner of the Irish Craft Brewers Award for Beer of the Year.

Cheating a little bit and affiliating itself to the great city of Galway(sure why not!), the Hooker Brewery is located on the site of the now-defunct Emerald Brewery just outside Roscommon town.

The microbrewery was created by two cousins, Aidan Murphy and Ronan Brennan. The lads are incredibly passionate about what they do, and we love to see coming in our door.

Galway Hooker Ale is made similar to traditional Pale Ales, but has an added taste of caramel, similar to an Irish red beer. It is made from mainly pearl and crystal malt, Saaz, and cascade hops. The science for all you beer geeks, according to the boys at Hooker is that it has a bitterness of 35 IBUs and is 4.4% alcohol by volume.

Described eloquently in the Bridgestone Guide, Galway Hooker is “is a masterpiece of brewing, a pale ale that is quiet the most moreish drink we have encountered in years. Everything about Galway Hooker is the antithesis of mass-produced beers: it is subtle, graceful, has superb texture and mouth-feel, the fruit and hop notes are poised and tantalizing, it is refreshing rather than gaseous, and it is fresh rather than flat and dull. An amazing feat of brewing”.

Galway Hooker is widely available on draught in pubs around the city, or in bottles from most off-licences to take home. For more information visit the Hooker's space-age website at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A dreamy ice-cream from the Burren

Linalla Ice Cream

Coming from just down the road in the middle of the Burren, Linalla is a very special ice-cream that we use in the restaurant.

It comes from a place where there is little but baron rock, birds, and a few animals.

Life has always been difficult in the Burren as locals struggle to live and work in the area without having to leave, however one family have successfully adapted to their surroundings and created an incredible little business that prides itself on its surrounds, using the unique environment to its benefit.

While many ice-cream company’s are based in industrial estates and large commercial units far away from the cattle that produce its raw ingredients, Linalla is the complete opposite.

This family run ice-cream parlour has its own herd of forty eight Friesians and Shorthorn cattle from which the milk and cream is taken and used in its own ice-cream.

Run by Brid and Roger Fahy, they are fellow members of Good Food Ireland, and committed to upholding a strong consistent level of quality.

The ice cream has been produced since 2006 when the family looked for new ways to increase turnover on the farm. Training in Ireland, UK, and Italy the couple learned how to both produce their own product, and to develop new recipe ideas.

Ice cream is made in small batches with the farm’s pasteurised milk and cream then adding fruit, biscuit, nuts and any other ingredients.

Linnalla ice creams include mellow Honeycomb Crunch, Strawberry Sensation, Superior Vanilla, Intense Chocolate, Wild Berry, and cool Mint Choc Chip. In addition to these flavours the company also produces seasonal favourites such as rhubarb and custard, strawberry and blackberry all locally sourced.

If you are around the Burren make sure to pop in to say hello at the Linnalla Café Ice Cream Parlour and Dessert House which has stunning views of Galway bay, and a childrens playground right down on the flaggy shore in New Quay – a great day out – and an even better excuse to visit the Burren!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Connemara Smokehouse

Connemara Smokehouse and the Roberts family

Here at Kai we are always looking for the best quality products to use in the kitchen. We don’t just use the best quality products regardless of source or content, but we are committed to finding the best natural, organic and locally sourced produce.

There is a growing number of smokehouses throughout the country ands we are lucky to have one of the finest production facilities just out the road.

The family run Connemara Smokehouse has been in operation by the Roberts family since 1979, and is now run by husband and wife Graham and Saoirse.

Grahams parents, John and Bridget founded Connemara Smokehouse with a smoking kiln that was first commissioned in 1946—and it’s still smoking today.

Situated on Bunowen Pier, just outside Ballyconneely the company encourage visitors to tour their facility and learn about its products and the process of smoking.

The smokehouse is one of the few remaining smokehouses that specializes in smoking wild Atlantic Salmon, along with tuna, herring, cod and mackerel.

 Connemara Smokehouse Smoked Mackeral fishcakes at Kai

Graham Roberts hand-fillets each fish to ensure quality and consistency is upheld with all of the companys products. 

Sea salt and beechwood smoke create the flavour and texture in all the smoked products.

In the restaurant we use the smoked mackerel for fish cakes which is often seen on the lunch boards. We also use the smoked salmon in many of our dishes.

We believe that by supporting traditional companies that have standards as high as ours, and an ethos of quality we can work together to offer the best finished product to our customers.

If you want to find out more about the Smokehouse make sure to visit them in Connemara, or check out their website on

Have a look at the Nationwide feature on Connemara Smokehouse to get a real sense of what goes on there - 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Knocklara Sheeps Cheese

Another of the wonderful home-grown chesses that we love to use in the kitchen is that of Knocklara all the way from Waterford.

As far as cheesemakers go we seem to have a superb selection of Irish cheeses at the moment, a skill that’s being honed with great success as a cottage industry.

Knocklara farmhouse is an old favourite producing a selection of cheeses of which we use their sheeps cheese.

The chief chessemakers Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz are very serious about cheese, and have been making their specialty sheeps cheese since 1990, that’s more than 20 years of refinement, and it seriously shows in the finished product.

If you are a regular to Kai you will surely have tasted the mouth-watering cheese at some point.

Cheese is handmade at Knocklara using traditional methods and vegetarian rennet. This method increases the health benefits of the cheese, and increases its flavour.

The cheese is available to buy at Sheridans if you fancy trying some at home. And if you are feeling adventurous why not try this recipe out with your dinner guests courtesy of Café Paradiso…our favourite veggie restaurant in Cork.

Deepfried courgette flowers with Knockalara sheep's cheese & capers and a tomato-citrus broth

6 tomatoes
100mls olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest of 1 orange
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 sprigs fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon tomato passata
100mls water or vegetable stock
8 courgette flowers
200g Knockalara cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
60g rice flour
40g plain flour
200mls sparkling water
oil for deep-frying

Bring a pot of water to a boil. With a sharp knife, score the base of the tomatoes with a cross and drop them into the water for 30 seconds or so. Remove them to a bowl of cold water, then peel off the skins. Deseed the tomatoes and finely dice the flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the tomato and garlic, and cook for one minute. Add the orange zest and herbs, and cook for one minute more. Add the passata and 100mls of water or vegetable stock. Simmer for one minute, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Leave the broth to cool to room temperature.

Stir the capers and chives into the cheese. Open the flowers and fill them to about halfway with the mixture. Twist the ends of the flowers to partially close them.

Combine the flours and whisk in enough cold sparkling water to get a thin batter.
Heat some vegetable oil to approximately 180°c in a deepfryer or pot.

Drop the flowers into the batter to lightly coat them, then lower them carefully into the oil, a few at a time. Fry for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until lightly coloured and crisp. Drain on paper.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's a cookbook club

Kai Cafe and restaurant is the kind of place that loves the things its customers love.
Head chef and proprietor Jess Murphy thought that she could bring two of those passions together to entertain and teach those interested in food. 
There are book clubs, and supper clubs the world over - but no cookbook clubs. At Kai the ethos is to always be innovative, which sparked the creation of a cookbook club.
The club is about people learning, talking, and sharing their passion with others. “It is great for people to share their love of cooking and cookbooks with like minded people.
The club is a place for individuals and groups of people to come and talk about food, ask questions, and find out how to be a better home chef” says Jess.
The cookbook club takes place this evening Wednesday May 8. Tickets are available in advance from the restaurant at €35 for three courses including one glass of wine.
This months installment of the cookbook club features Ottolenghi's book, 'Plenty'.
Each course will be served with Jessica explaining the technicalities of the dish, best places to source the freshest food, and how to serve a feast to happy customers.
Places are limited so make sure you book early.
For more information contact Kai on 526003 or visit

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Nutmeg Feast - a popup dinner

A movement of secret dining, and supper clubs exists right around the world, where people open their kitchens to friends and strangers for one-off dinners. It is like a person you don't know inviting anyone that wanted to come to their house so they could cook you dinner. The atmosphere is unique, and dining in somebody's home makes it a comfortable, and quirky experience.

The Nutmeg Feast is one of these, and has been something of a secret for quite some time. Jolanta and Pawel have been welcoming people into their home for almost a year, having run 10 or so events.

The pair believe these feasts are not just for eating, but a platform for people to meet, exchange ideas and connect. It is also a chance to taste slow and wild food that comes from local farms.

Born and raised in Poland, chef Pawel Karnafel was always fascinated by the culinary art. After completing degree in environmental engineering he decided to move to Ireland to build up his passion for food. He began working in the West Restaurant at the Twelve Hotel in Barna, and has since worked in Sheridans at The Docks, Ballynahinch Castlle and Cava Restaurant & tapas bar. 

His style of cooking is an example of his passion for wild and slow food. Pawel's food philosophy is based on locally sourced produce, that comes from markets and farms around. To create his dishes he is also harvesting wild fruits, nuts, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and seaweeds that can be found in plenty in the countryside and along the seashore.

Yolanta has worked as an interior designer and a fashion buyer in the past although she always had a strong interest in running a restaurant. She gracefully takes upon herself a role of hostess at Nutmeg’s gatherings.

The Nutmeg Feast is prepared at home. Depending on the theme it takes about 3 days to prepare, with the pair starting work on a Thursday night.

The next Nutmeg Feast will be held on May 6. Sheep will be the theme of the evening with food based around using the animal. Tickets cost €40 + a bottle of wine.

Up to 12 guests can be seated at NUTMEG’s table. Each event sees Pawel serving up six dishes which are complemented with all sorts of refreshments. Bookings can be made on line through The dates of upcoming events can be found in the Nutmeg Feasts facebook page.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Say Cheese!

The West of Ireland is consistently producing more and more fantastic farmhouse cheeses, and the quality of produce is obvious judging by the numerous awards constantly rolling westward.
One such producer is that of Killeen Farmhouse. Situated just out the road in Portumna, Killeen Farm is producing some very exciting cows and goats cheeses, based loosely around the Gouda recipe.
Over the past few years farm owners Haske Knippels and Marion Roeleveld have transformed a one time small goat farm into an award winning and thriving cheese business.
At Kai we are lucky enough to be able to use the farms cow and goats cheese in a selection of our dishes in both the café and the restaurant. It is an adaptable robust cheese, and the customers love it.
They say the proof is in the pudding, and in terms of awards, Killeen has cleaned up. Among the numerous accolades the farm was crowned Supreme Champion at the Irish Cheese Awards 2011 and scooped three major category awards at the British Cheese Festival Awards last September.
To further cement the impact Killeen Farmhouse has made on the food world it is soon to be welcomed to the aisles of Harrods prestigious foodhall.
All cheese on the farm is handmade from pasteurised milk using traditional animal rennet.
Cheeses are matured for a minimum of six weeks, while the cows cheese is matured for up to 12 months.
The goat’s milk is produced from the farms own herd of goats which are grown naturally on a diet of grass, while the cows milk is sourced from a local dairy farmer. This close relationship between the beginning and end product allows  Killeen cheese to be fully traceable, and of a consistent quality.

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese is available in the following varieties:
Plain goat (6-8 weeks)
Mature goat (4-5 months)
Italian herbs & olives
Fenugreek (walnut flavour)

Mild Gouda (6-8 weeks old)
Medium mature (4-5 months)
Mature (8 months +)
Italian herbs & olives
Garlic & herbs
Basil & garlic
Killeen cheese is on the menu at Kai on a regular basis, and if your interested in buying some to take him it is available from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Mc Cambridges, Mortons, and farmers markets in Galway.
For more information on Kai visit
For more information on Killeen Farmhouse you can email them directly