The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Ruth Calder-Potts and Clovis Ferguson, of Mutonics, producers of Jamu, a turmeric-based tonic

Gala dinner at Ballymaloe

Annual RNLI fundraiser, The Ballycotton Lifeboat Gala Dinner (February 1) at Ballymaloe House, this year kicks up its heels with a Moulin Rouge theme, including live music cocktail reception before a delicious dinner, followed by more live music and other entertainment, including a roulette wheel, goodie bags, raffle and spot prizes.

(Tickets:, Tel: 087-1204023 or email

Ballinwillin House retreat

Ballinwillin House Farm offers a residential mindfulness and meditation workshop/retreat (January 25-27) featuring the very fine cooking of Old Convent chef-proprietor Dermot Gannon.

Includes two nights’ B&B, wine tasting, Friday supper, Saturday lunch and long-table dinner featuring Ballinwillin’s own organic venison and wild boar.

First Brunch Award

Something of a night owl, The Menu has always felt brunch to be a most civilised solution to the challenges of early breakfasting, so celebrates the first public-nominated Irish Dairy Brunch Award at The Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards.

Voting continues at until January 28 with the awards ceremony (February 19) at Dublin’s InterContinental hotel.

Tampopo at L’Atitude 51

L’Atitude 51’s film club resumes with the ‘ramen classic’, Tampopo (Jan 23), along with sips, nibbles are furnished by Victor Barrado (Head Chef, Miyazaki) to complete the sensory experience. Booking is essential. (

Healthy hour in Limerick

To assist Limerick readers with new year resolutions, local eatery Copia Green offers a ‘healthy hour’ (7.30am-8.30am) discount of 30% on breakfast dishes daily until the end of January ( Fresh Start With Alex (January 24) sees Limerick outfit Alex Findlater & Co. Food & Wine Hall’s head chef John Mount offer a healthy pizza demonstration while participants sip ‘skinny’ Prosecco, whatever that may be when it’s at home! (

Great value at Orso

The bijou little pearl that is Orso restaurant, alongside Cork’s GPO, is offering a three-course ‘prix fixe’ menu (available Tues/Wed/Thurs between 5-7pm) for just €19 (

No more House Café

Farewell, then, House Café at the Cork Opera House, which shuts up shop for good tomorrow. This admirable little operation based in the foyer serving a very considered menu was run by Victor Murphy and Stephen McGlynn and erstwhile chefs Eoin O’Reilly and Marco Aher. Fortunately, Murphy and his partner Máire O’Mahony are now applying that same ethos and excellent operating standards to O’Mahony’s pub, in Watergrasshill, serving up fine fare, with courtyard and a barn for live entertainment and even weddings.

Today’s special

While The Menu hasn’t exactly gone on a January health kick, he has at least called time on his Yuletide ‘champers-for-breakfast’ lifestyle until the next good excuse rolls around (‘Fabulous February’, anyone?), so his encounter with Mutonics’ Jamu seemed more than serendipitous.

Jamu is a traditional herbal tonic which Mutonics founder Clovis ‘Gubbeen’ Ferguson found in Malaysia. Her version consists primarily of freshly juiced organic turmeric (along with tamarind, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, black pepper, honey, lemon, Atlantic sea salt), a popular Indian spice which comes with a list of natural health benefits (particularly as an anti-inflammatory) increasingly supported by medical research.

The Menu himself has long munched on raw turmeric tubers whenever his stomach gives him a bit of gyp, and is very much enjoying Jamu and its delicious ginger and citrus aftertaste.

Clovis has been joined by another scion of Irish food ‘royalty’, Ruth Calder-Potts and The Menu reckons they’re set to be one of the great food success stories of 2019.

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