A chef friend tipped me off about Sticks, which is one of the most original pop-ups on the Dublin dining scene. Jonny Boyle and Kate O'Donohoe serve a seven-course menu entirely composed of things that can be served on sticks.
“Sticks is inspired by Japanese skewer culture – yakitori, kushiyaki, kushikatsu – but not exclusively Japanese as we open up the concept to global influences, concentrating on delivering what we call flavour bombs on a stick,” says Boyle, whose CV includes stints as a chef, creative director and DJ.
“We have always admired how the Japanese have appropriated elements of western culture and made them better. With Sticks we want to do the reverse of that, take something Japanese and try to improve on it.”
Their website explains that omakase means “I will leave it with you”, and in a twist on that, diners are presented with a menu in which the dishes are redacted, and each course revealed “as the experience progresses”.
“We have a number of different iterations in mind for Sticks, but for now we are going to keep with our omakase format and build our brand that way before we look at other formats and venues.”
Boyle does the cooking and his wife, O'Donohoe, runs front of house. They hope to find a permanent spot to open a restaurant, but in the meantime they are popping up once a month at Storyboard cafe in Islandbridge, with tickets for the seven-course menu, and accompanying natural wines and sakes, selling on Eventbrite for €75. The next dates are Thursday, October 17th, and Thursday, November 7th.
Keeping with the Japanese theme, there are two opportunities coming up to attend sake-tasting menu dinners hosted by Honami Matsumoto, who works with the family-owned Tosa brewery that produces the Keigetsu range of sakes.
On Thursday, October 10th, she will be at West restaurant at The Twelve in Barna, Galway, where chef Martin O'Donnell will serve a five-course Japanese-inspired menu with sake pairings. It starts at 7.30pm and tickets, €70, are available by telephoning 091-597000.
The following evening, the sake sommelier and WSET certified sake educator will be at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork for another tasting menu designed by head chef Dervilla O’Flynn, paired with five sakes, from sparkling to sweet. Tickets for this event, which gets under way at 6.30pm, cost €105, and can be reserved by telephoning 021-4652531.
Sligo county beckons
Sligo Tourism has launched a new campaign for autumn targeting "Great Escapers", or people looking for a bit of adventure. After all that kayaking, mountain biking, yoga on the beach and surfing, those energetic types will need refuelling, and the town and county has lots to offer.
There is a full programme of food events as part of the ongoing Taste the Island promotion, including a Harvest Feast at the Radisson Blue Hotel & Spa on Friday, October 18th. The nine-course dinner and drinks reception costs €75, and tickets can be booked online at sligofoodtrail.ie.
A beautiful slice of a life
Beautiful Affair: A Journey in Music, Food and Friendship is the title of musician and cook Mike Hanrahan’s wonderful new book, out on October 10th. It is part memoir, part recipe collection, and a total joy to read.
Perhaps best known for his time with Stockton's Wing, Hanrahan also has another string to his bow, when a stint at Ballymaloe Cookery School segued into a second career as a chef. He's back in the music world now, but for a time, kitchens in Cork and Dublin were lucky enough to have him on their staff.
The book is a great read, full of funny stories and wry observations on the music and food worlds, along with some fascinating detail. Who would have thought, for example, that on the gig circuit, Finbar Furey travelled with a slow cooker which he used to conjure up hotel bedroom feasts?
With hand-drawn watercolour illustrations by Charlotte O’Reilly Smith, and recipes from friends, family and professional kitchens, this is a book to savour and cherish.