The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Joe McNamee brings you the latest news from the Irish food world.


Robbie Krawczyk, formerly award-winning head chef of Tankardstown House, will be opening his new restaurant, Chestnut, in Ballydehob, in late April and marks his return to his native county of Cork by joining forces with two other local stars with national reputations, Kevin Aherne, of Sage Midleton, and Bryan McCarthy, of Greene’s, in Cork city.

Taking place in Greene’s, East & West Meet in the Middle (March 6) sees each of the trio showcase the finest of local produce with a course of their own, including vegetables from West Cork (Robbie), seafood (Kevin) and meat from North Cork (Bryan) with all combining on a cheese and chocolate finale. Matching wines will be available for each course (tickets


The Menu loves nothing more than getting his oats and on a daily basis at that, for porridge not only reared him but is doing likewise with his progeny, while in summer the entire clan switch to cooler variations of same, porridge-based breakfasts such as homemade granola, muesli or bircher — and that is just breakfast, for the oat is the class of greatly underutilised native ingredient that keeps on giving.

Bia Beag hosts an evening (March 3) in Highbank Orchard dedicated to the Great Grain with guests including nutritional therapist Jemma Kehoe, Kevin Scully (organic oat farmers, The Merry Mill), Maria Betts (founder of granola business, Maria Lucia Bakes) and John Flahavan, great-great-great-grandchild of the founder of Flahavan’s. (Booking essential: Tel 086 230 0702)


Dublin Chinese New Year celebrations continue with Alice’s Chinese Food Tour (March 3) which sounds like a most wonderful crash course in authentic Cantonese food, including Hong Kong-style BBQ, the history and etiquette of traditional Cantonese dim sum lunch (aka Yum Chai), a tour of the Asian supermarket and a taste of Hong Kong street food.

Ticket price includes goodie bag. ( Strandhill’s Draft House make their own acknowledgements of this new Chinese Year, with the Sligo-based gastropub offering walkers the use of private kennels with a video link while they reheat various post-perambulatory cockles within the bar and for those of an especially vigorous bent (ie serious walkers or even surfers), they offer hot showers, free of charge. (


Cocoa, a newly opened chocolate shop in Cork’s funky little Winthrop Arcade, may bear the titular addendum, ‘ By Brendan Cashman’, the local chef who, having perceived a space in the market, moved to open this bijou and very pretty little establishment, but Brendan’s sharpest move has been securing the talent of Mexican chocolatier, Elifelet Rosales, whose extensive global training and professional experience is brought to bear on a very splendid collection of filled confections and truffles, wisely employing good quality Valrhona couverture as the base element for her chocolate alchemy.

But good couverture alone will not a fine chocolate make and Eli’s judicious hand with additional elements and flavours yields some sublimely balanced confections; unlike lesser offerings, where the ‘innards’ can sometimes utterly overwhelm the chocolate itself, Eli’s fillings are there to add the perfectly-judged grace note as good chocolate melts on the tongue. After a recent sampling, The Menu found Lemon & Matcha Tea, orange truffle and salted caramel particularly enjoyable.

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