The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

The Menu and his progeny have been burning the midnight oil in a flurry of green-tinged preparations for Lá Féile Pádraig and while the dye may have already run from his emerald-green undershorts, his smorgasbord of fine Irish foodstuffs to serve on the day should prove infinitely more rewarding. 

Fáilte Ireland has been equally busy and, over the festival weekend, its group of ‘Food Champions’ begin taking to the highways and byways for a sustained campaign (#ThisIsIrishFood) to promote real Irish food shorn of all the usual Paddywhackery. One of the first events is an Irish brunch (March 17) at L Mulligan Grocer (

Teeling Whiskey aims to make it a week-long affair (March 12-19) in its Dublin 8 distillery, including a whiskey, beer, and cheese pairing event with the Little Milk Company and Dot Brew and a post-Paddy’s Day craft fair featuring some top nosebag, arts and crafts, more craft beers, and, of course, more Teeling’s Whiskey (

Dublin’s Marker Hotel has a special weekend package including fresh shamrock, shuttle bus to and from the parade, before heading back to base camp for the Ireland v England match, lunch, and a trad band with a spa offering to take the inevitable edge off the ‘day after. (

Art of brunch

The very wonderful Crawford Gallery Café is choosing March 17 to roadtest its new Sunday/public holiday brunch opening hours (10am-4pm) which will begin in earnest on April 8 ( Ballinwillin House in north Cork offers a splendid St Patrick’s Day ‘care’ package (for up to four adults) including its own smoked wild boar and fresh boar and a bottle of Chateau Mulcahy Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from its Hungarian vineyard, €59 including delivery in Ireland. (

Most appropriate of all has to be the guided tours of the Kinsale Mead Co, taking place at 1pm after the seaside town’s own parade, including some sampling of what surely must have been a favourite tipple of the bould St Padraig himself! (

MS Ireland fundraiser

The Menu’s great comrade and friend, food writer Dee Laffan, is staging an MS Ireland fundraiser dinner (March 14) at the very excellent Nightmarket Restaurant, in Ranelagh. Having been diagnosed with MS seven years ago, last year, Dee nonetheless trekked to Everest Base Camp to raise funds and is hopeful this event will enable her to hit her €10,000 goal. Five courses of authentic Thai food plus paired cocktails, €50. (

Green Saffron’s ‘spice king’ Arun Kapil gives a cooking demo (March 15) in aid of Midleton Educate Together National School with all proceeds on the night going to purchase new equipment for the school. (


Noting The Menu’s choice of luncheon beverage, a recent dining companion mentioned the fad for fermented drinks left him underwhelmed, believing many of them to be more ‘worthy’ than ‘tasty’. One sip from The Menu’s Holo Organic Kombucha and said companion was humming a different tune. This fine beverage is brewed in Youghal by twins Padraig and Adrian Hyde using tea made from filtered water, sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). 

It’s fully certified as organic and a wonderful tonic for the gut, is most certainly ‘worthy’ but it also tastes pretty damn fine, a light, slightly effervescent draught, tea notes vanished, supplanted by gentle sweet hints of green apple. Being raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurised, The Menu retained a tincture (including magical SCOBY, floating around the bottle) and is now waiting for his own kombucha brew (using House of Tea leaves) to mature.

Beer of the week

La Trappe Blond, 33cl, 6.5% ABV — €2.69

Stockists: Bradleys, Matsons, Abbot Ale House, Molloys, McHughs, Redmonds, widely available.

This takes its name from the Abbey at La Trappe in Normandy that gave its name to the whole order, a branch of Cistercian monks who follow St Benedict.

There are 12 Trappist monasteries that brew beer, six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one each in France, Austria, Italy and the USA (four new ones have appeared since 2012).

La Trappe beers have been brewed within the walls of Koningshoeven Abbey near Tilberg in the south of the Netherlands since 1884.

This pours a hazy gold colour with aromas of tropical fruits and banana, soft and full flavoured with good tropical tinged malt character on the finish.

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