The Menu: Food trends for 2014

Mystic Menu, once again, lays out some predictions and identifies trends for the coming year in Irish food.

Peter’s palate marks him out for coming year.

Hardly a wet weekend in Pepper Brasserie, in Clontarf, and 22-year-old chef Peter Clifford has been reviewed by five national broadsheets including, of course, The Irish Examiner, a staggering strike rate for someone that young. No doubt, it is his lineage, as son of the late, great Micheal Clifford, that lures the critics, but it’s Peter’s palate and cooking skills that mark him out as a keeper.

Buy your produce in local shops

In The Menu’s childhood, most weekly shopping was done in Caplice’s Sunview Stores, a grocery store at the end of the road, sadly long since departed. But The Menu is beginning to notice the rise of the small local shop with nary a franchised frontispiece in sight, independent operations with greater retailing freedom, an ideal route to regaining sovereignty over our diet. O’Keefe’s in St Luke’s has been fighting the good fight for two decades while the longstanding JJ O’Driscoll’s, in Ballinlough, has evolved very nicely. Menloe Stores, Blackrock Road, does excellent local veg while Ballintemple Food Store is developing a fine range, including Arbutus Bread. Do support your own local independent grocer.

Lead the way on sustainable fish

Sustainable fish is an area of ongoing great concern to the conscientious consumer yet none of the State fisheries & marine bodies seem prepared to offer clear guidance, a vacuum just waiting to be filled by a homegrown Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

low’n’slow BBQ cooking message

Barbecuing is much more than a means of gauging operating capacity of Irish A&Es on those rare occasions a capricious sun chooses to hoik up her skirts and shine on sun-starved natives with many Irish restaurants coming on board. The Menu advises readers to seek out West Cork-based Pitmaster Mick, Mike Corcoran, an Irish-American who returned to the county of his forefathers spreading the gospel of ‘low’n’slow’ BBQ cooking. www.mikesbbq.eu

Urban growing is all the rage

Urban growing, on rooftops, in basements, wherever, is all the rage in New York. The ever-progressive Market Lane restaurant group have established Ireland’s first hydroponic growing operation (in water, without soil) at their Blackrock Castle Café premises. With their own Irish craft beer nano-brewery planned next door to their Oliver Plunkett St HQ where they are also looking at roof garden options, they lead a vanguard of new sustainable commercial urban eating. www.marketlane.ie

Mushroom Maven will be good news story

The Menu is predicting the coming year will see North Cork Mushroom Maven Lucy Deegan and her Fearless Foraging Husband Mark Cribben become a truly national food news story.

Beer of the Week

Robinsons Trooper Iron Maiden Beer, 4.7% ABV, 500ml — €3.49

Stockists: Bradleys, Redmonds, World Wide Wines Waterford.

This ale is named after the Iron Maiden song ‘The Trooper’ and was created by the family-owned Robinsons Brewery in conjunction with the band’s lead singer Bruce Dickenson.

Brewed using Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops, this has a light golden colour. Fresh and clean on the palate with good malt flavours, a lemon character and a good hint of bitterness on the finish.

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