The Menu: All the food news with Joe McNamee


The very wonderful Lens & Larder offer two new weekend workshops in the splendid style to which The Menu could very much grow accustomed. 

The first, Connemara: A Savage Beauty with Bill Phelps (Feb 25-28) takes place at Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway, and sees US-based photographer Phelps guide participants in exploring mood photography and food stories in Connemara through meetings with local farmers and producers before returning for tutorials in front of the luxury hotel’s log fires. Package includes three nights accommodation and B&B, oyster reception, two lunches, three dinners with wine. 

The second workshop is this time focused more on food writing with Literature & Larder (April 13-16) taking place at Glin Castle, Co Limerick and featuring internationally renowned food writers Diana Henry and Elissa Altman for an in-depth look at recipe development, food as memoir/essay, creative writing & food journalism, and a brief diversion into podcasting/broadcasting as well. New York literary agent Sharon Bowers will be there to advise on the business end of publishing and Ireland’s Top Cookbook Editor, Kristin Jensen, examines the minutiae of publishing a cookbook. 

The package, high end as always, includes three nights luxury B&B, drinks reception, lunches and three dinners with wine.


Ballymaloe Good Living Day (Feb 25) is festival with a specific focus on the health and wellbeing aspect of what we put into our bodies with a programme of family-friendly activities throughout the day. 

Cooking demos arrive courtesy of Melissa Hemsley, James Kavanagh and William Murray from Currabinny foods, Lilly Higgins, Rocket Man and Lean Mean Momma, and will be hosted by Rachel Allen while other available activities include fitness and yoga classes, a 5K run, garden tours as well as a range of local streetfood stalls.


The Menu struggles to imagine such a body might exist but those yet to immerse themselves in the Sage Midleton’s splendid locavore menu might finally be stirred by a very wonderful offer of a chef Kevin Aherne’s 12-mile lunch menu available for just €12 (

Mount Juliet Estate hosts an Afternoon Tea party (Feb 23) in the environs of their splendid estate all in aid of the very wonderful Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation with special guests, friends and families all pitching up for the two sittings with the menu to include scones, macaroons, cake, signature beverages and finger sandwiches. (Places are limited, booking essential,

The Chinese New Year celebrations taking place in Dublin include a Chinese New Year Food Extravaganza (Feb 17-18) in the Asia Market with free food and drinks for all the family. A Chinese Tea Ceremony (Feb 22) takes place in the National Gallery where the simple cuppa is utterly elevated into a sensory exploration and appreciation of the art and philosophy of drinking tea.


Were The Menu ever to be caught short for a classy dessert to wrap up an impromptu and very quickly assembled picnic, he’d very happily consider one of a new range from the very wonderful Glenilen, in West Cork.

Presented as individual portions in a little plastic tub, they make for extremely portable, cream-laden versions of sweet treats from the fine dining end of the menu.

Beer of the Week

Priory Original Sin IPA, 5.5% ABV;

500ml — €3.25

Stockists: Molloys, McHughs, Redmonds, Baggot St Wines, Independents in South Dublin.

The Priory Brewery in Tallaght is the first Social Enterprise Craft Brewery in the country, and the first brewery in Tallaght in more than 250 years. Supported by Partas Enterprise Development Agency with all profits reinvested in job creation.

Original Sin uses Magnum, Mosaic and Citra and pours a hazy gold colour, grapefruit and lemon on the nose, fruity and fresh on the palate with a taut dry finish and lingering malt flavours tinged with lemon zest.

On tap in the Legal Eagle and a number of Craft Beer pubs in Dublin and the South Dublin area — eg, The Morgue, The Legal Eagle and The Penny Black, Tallaght.

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