The Menu is greatly looking forward to Ballymaloe Litfest (May 19 to 21) including his own event talking to three young farmers (Paddy Frankel, Alice Holden, and Severine von Tscharner Fleming) ploughing an alternative furrow to mainstream industrial agriculture.
Elsewhere in this magazine, festival director Rory O’Connell makes mention of ‘Litfest’s ‘impact’ on past attendees. One of those previously ‘impacted’ was Charlotte Pike, a young Englishwoman and former student of Ballymaloe Cookery School, whom The Menu recalls as a most obliging volunteer. Charlotte, like many others, was blown away by the contribution of fermentation guru Sandor Katz, and subsequently went on to write a very handy little introductory primer on the subject.
Charlotte’s latest book, Smoked (Kyle Books), is another beginner’s guide to another equally ancient method of cooking and preserving food.
Pike does a truly splendid job of introducing the concept and holding the hand of any novice would-be smokers, covering kit and equipment, methods and materials, and providing a tidy little selection of simple, straightforward recipes to illustrate her methods. Refreshingly, she makes no pretence of culinary omniscience, which makes for a very readable book, all in all, a splendid gift for anyone of any age with a burgeoning interest in one of the greatest of all flavouring and cooking processes.
Who knows which speaker will this year inspire another budding author or food activist in the years to come? Should you choose to make the trip to East Cork, dear reader, it may well even be you! charlotteskitchendiary.com
The Department of Hotel, Culinary and Tourism at Institute Technology, Tralee, is currently seeking post- graduate candidates for an MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Culinary Arts Management (NFQ : Level 9).
The programme covers critical understanding of classical and contemporary culinary technique and adaptation to the context of the student’s own environment as well as focussing on innovation and food development, financial and management acumen, all to equip students with the ability to further develop management careers within a hospitality/culinary environment. Non-graduates with suitable work experience will also be considered. www.ittralee.ie
DINING AL FRESCO
Galway Food Tours has joined forces with McCambridge’s food emporium to launch The Galway Gourmet Picnic, an urban gourmet al fresco dining service offering superior hampers for a spot of al fresco dining in and around the City of Tribes, all featuring some top-notch fare from fine Irish producers along with a detailed map listing the best dining spots. www.galwayfoodtours.com
The Menu will be spending this weekend skipping around beautiful Clare at the very splendid Burren Slow Food Festival (until Sunday May 14). One especial reason for his trip west is to meet Brian Ó Briain of the excellently-named Anam Coffee (for Clare was also the birthplace of Anam Cara writer, John O’Donoghue) who hosts a Sunday morning coffee ‘brunch’. Anam Coffee recently came to The Menu’s attention, immediately announcing itself as very much the real deal. Such has been the explosion of good roasters in Ireland that The Menu, of late, drinks nothing but single origin coffees, yet he decided to try one of Brian’s blends, Ilamatepec (45% Brazil Yellow Bourbon/45% El Salvador/10% Colombia Risaralda Guatica) for, while it is one thing to draw the best from single estate beans, it is a truer test of the roaster’s palate to see how they might assemble a blend and a draught or two of the excellent Ilamatepec would have many believing it to be a single origin of remarkable quality and sublime balance.
A moka pot provided a brew of medium acidity with notes of bitter chocolate, dusky cocoa and sweet dried fruits, one of the nicest The Menu has put away in many a long moon. www.anamcoffee.ie
BEER OF THE WEEK
Strawberry Vanilla Shake IPA, Rascals Brewing Company, 330ml, 5%ABV — €3.49
Stockists: Matsons, O’Briens, Molloys, Independents, Selected SuperValu
I couldn’t resist trying this new brew from Rascals which I think is the first widely available Irish Milk-Shake IPA, a style that began appearing in the US last year.
The addition of wheat, oats and lactose give the beer its cloudy ‘shake’ character while strawberry puree and vanilla add some rascally unexpected flavours along with Citra and Mosaic hops to keep it lively.
Pours thick and hazy with a frothy white head aromas of citrus, vanilla and red fruits with a fruity refreshing palate and a distinct hoppy milk-shake finish.
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