THE MENU: Enticing dining opportunities around Ireland

Food news with Joe McNamee

Paul Flynn at The Tannery, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, which is now 20 years old. Picture: Dan Linehan

Gets better with age

The Menu is covered in glitter and glue having passed the last week attempting to craft a suitably celebratory birthday card for The Tannery Restaurant, in Dungarvan, which has turned 20.

Hard to believe it has now achieved the status of venerable institution for each visit seems like the first, so adept are proprietors Paul and Máire Flynn at continually reinventing anew one of The Menu’s favourite Irish restaurants and one of the very finest establishments in the country.

Twenty years ago, chef Paul and wife Máire were exceptionally bold in setting up shop in a small seaside town away from the more traditional urban markets for such a fine dining venture.

But having helmed two-star kitchens in London at an impossibly young age and bringing that vast wealth of experience along with a large dollop of traditional Irish farmhouse-style cooking to bear on local Irish produce, Flynn’s menus are a splendid exemplar of his unique strand of Irish cuisine, the only mystery being how such delicious food in such a splendid venue has not earned Flynn a star in his native land — the exceptional that proves the rule? (www.tannery.ie)

Gourmet opportunities

Taking a swift summer flit around a few of the nation’s hospitality establishments, The Menu notes enticing dining opportunities including an extensive menu of gourmet grills on Fota Island Resort’s new BBQ Terrace which is set up to take group bookings (www.fotaisland.ie). Having snaffled more than a few lobsters in recent weeks, The Menu points out to readers that they might do same in Dublin’s Marker Hotel with its BubbleClaws package for two including a bottle of fancy fizz along with said crustacean (www.themarkerhoteldublin.com) while The Hamptons, in Limerick, are well under way with their eighth annual Lobsterfest featuring prime Irish lobster dishes seven days a week (www.hamptonsgrill.ie).

Whatever about the lobster, Reeds Restaurant at Ferrycarrig Hotel (ferrycarrighotel.ie), in Co Wexford, have a fine summer menu abundant with local produce The Menu is looking forward to trying and, finally, on foot of a recent trip through the lovely little town of Enistymon, in Co Clare, The Menu is moved to give mention to the recently opened Pot Duggan’s pub, another venture from Bodytonic’s Trevor O’Shea, bringing a new lease of life to an old institution in the town, formerly known as Ahern’s.

Offering some of the old school pleasures of a pint of plain and a simple few food offerings (along with the bag of Tayto and the Club Milk), it hopes to incorporate markets, food events, music and barbecues in the courtyard.

(facebook.com/PotDuggans). UCC’s Food Industry Training Unit are now taking applications for the latest round of the Diploma in Speciality Food Production and the Diploma in Food Science and Technology (www.ucc.ie/en/fitu)

Spicy ketchup

Some things will never change and when it comes to the good old plate of chips,
The Menu’s progeny always insist on tomato ketchup.

The Menu occasionally makes up a batch of his own, it being simplicity itself to slowly cook up tomatoes, sugar, wine vinegar and onions and puree the results but for those times when he has run out of the homemade option, he is delighted to have stumbled across a local version, from Lucca Fusco, of Chicco Food Products, in Kinsale.

While spicing in the mainstream versions in the marketplace tends to be so
innocuous as to be almost non-existent, Lucca, it seems, is a man after The Menu’s own heart who enjoys playing fast and loose with the spice cabinet contents, his version featuring bolshie smoked paprika and a deep earthy cumin hum and, much to the delight of
No 2 Son, the Evil Knievel of chilli consumption, a healthy sprinkling of red chilli flakes for a warming afterglow.

www.facebook.com/ChiccoFoodProductsKinsale

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