Joe McNamee rounds up all the latest news from the food world.
As regular readers well know, The Menu is never done proselytising on behalf of farmers or country markets as the primary port of call for any smart food shopper looking for the very best of local, seasonal produce while also supporting the local community. But he equally appreciates how difficult it can be for many to make it to the markets, operating as they do for a short fixed time each week.
So he is delighted to bring tidings of Neighbourfood.ie, an online ordering service with a regular weekly evening pick-up time from a fixed location. Established by the indefatigable Jack ‘Rocketman’ Crotty and business partner Martin Poucher, having observed the concept in action in Italy, consumers simply order and pay online by Sunday from a gradually growing group of producers offering a fine range of vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, poultry, confectionery, craft beer, natural wines, and more.
Collection then takes place on Tuesday evening (5pm-7pm) from Crotty’s new market yard on Cork’s Barrack St. The range of produce available can only grow and any potential grower-producer-sellers wishing to become involved are very welcome indeed.
With November’s passing, the gloves are off and the tinsel is out of the bag as The Menu finally allows first mention proper of Christmas and some of the entertainment options at the top of his pile: No1 Pery Square Hotel, a great Menu favourite, in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter, offer a plethora of Yuletide options including festive afternoon tea; group Christmas lunch menus; Christmas Opera Dinner (Dec 23) and Women’s Christmas (Jan 6) at Sash Restaurant (oneperysquare.com).
Dublin’s ever-progressive Bodytonic/Eatyard snuggle up under the mistletoe with Yuleyard, a heated, covered outdoor Christmas market offering fabulous food, craft beers, cocktails, winter warmers (mulled cider, wine, hot whiskey/port) crafts, and Caravan Karaoke for chuckles and cheer. Admission free (the-eatyard.com).
Pembroke Kilkenny Four-Star hotel offers a plethora of Christmas party packages in the centre of one of Ireland’s great party towns, ranging from boutique party finger food to a full four-courser along with group mixology classes, pre-prandial facials/massages, and an end-of-work party (Dec 21, from 1pm) for anyone lucky enough not to have to clock in over the break (pembrokekilkenny.com/offer/christmas-newyears).
Finally, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa’s Christmas packages include a Nollaig na mBan (Jan 6) special with afternoon tea, gin cocktails, and overnight B&B (inchydoneyisland.com)
While some have suggested The Menu is in fact the 21st century reincarnation of Winnie the Pooh, it is not, he trusts, a reference to his highly embraceable rotundity but rather to his great obsession with honey. Indeed, he eventually hopes to host a hive or two on his own grand estates but for the moment makes do and then some by subsisting on finest local Irish honey, just about the best to be found in the world (though consumers beware as certain ‘Irish’ honeys are actually vastly inferior imported stuff.
John O’Neill from Bantry is one such local beekeeper and The Menu and several progeny recently acknowledged that a jar of Beara Raw Honey from his Adrigole apiary contained, without doubt, the most exquisite honey they have tasted thus far this year.
This particular batch is a ‘high’, clean honey of exceptional purity and none of the wince-making saccharin excesses of the cheap stuff, and while bramble flower notes are to the fore, there are also hints of gorse and possibly even a little bit of lime blossom — all in all, a superb honey. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trespass DarkFarmhouse Ale, 7.5% ABV, 70cl — €9.95
Stockists: Bradleys, Matsons, No. 21, Selected CarryOuts, Jus de Vine, Drinkstore, No 21, Molloys, Next Door.
Eight Degrees Brewing always produce something special at Christmas and 2018 is no exception. There is a new ‘Blowhard Imperial Stout’ aged in Jameson Barrels which has rich dark chocolate flavours mixed with dark fruits and would be perfect as a Christmas Pudding wine — at 12% ABV you won’t be using it for sessions.
Trespass is a collaboration brew with Jamil Zainasheff of Heretic Brewing and is a dark Belgian farmhouse-style ale that has been barrel-aged in Pinot Noir casks and infused with blackberries. This has gorgeous ripe red and dark fruit flavours off-set with sour brett touches, refreshing and characterful and an excellent food beer.
Trespass Dark Farmhouse Ale, 7.5% ABV, 70cl — €9.95