The multi-award-winning Pot Duggan’s, in Ennistymon, Co Clare, continues its highly progressive campaign to singlehandedly reverse the trend of rural decline, at least in the pub sector, with a splendid Sunday Sessions programme running from February to June.
Some of Ireland’s top chefs (Paul Flynn, Enda McEvoy, Grainne O’Keeffe, Jess Murphy, JR Ryall and Ross Lewis) will travel west to cook up a series of one-off dinners featuring finest local produce in their beautifully restored 19th-century barns.
The Menu reckons this series will prove to be one of the highlights of 2019 and it kicks off in some style with a dinner from Paul Flynn (February 24), chef-proprietor of Dungarvan’s The Tannery. (www.potduggans.com/SundaySessions/)
The Menu never needs a special reason to sample the fine fare of chef Jess Murphy at the very splendid Kai café and restaurant but the in-house Cookbook Club returns once more (February 26) as Murphy interprets the work of Uruguayan chef Ignacio Mattos, of Estela, in New York City, recreating dishes from his eponymous tome, Estela by Ignacio Mattos at a special dinner. Booking essential (www.kaicaferestaurant.com).
The Menu is exceptionally partial to a drop of sherry, a most versatile beverage — indeed, a glass of fine dry manzanilla recently served him splendidly as a libation to partner a wonderful seafood lunch in Dublin’s Fish Shop, on Benburb St — so recommends that anyone who still believes sherry is something to be brought out once a year to pawn off on Maiden Aunt Menu should check out Wines Under the “Flor” (February 21) at L’Atitude 51 when sherry guru Colm McCan shares his extensive knowledge of the magical ‘flor’ (yeast essential to the manufacture of certain sherries and other world-renowned wines) with plenty of sipping opportunities along with suitable canapés from the L’Atitude kitchen. (Booking essential www.latitude51.ie)
The latest outing (February 23) for the ever-popular Seafood Masterclasses with Cliff Townhouse Chef Sean Smith includes glass of vino and nibbles, all for €35.
UCC’s Food Industry Training Unit is putting out final calls for anyone wishing to sign up for a comprehensive two-day workshop Preparing for Food Safety and Quality Audits – A Practical Approach (March 7 and 8), an interactive Food Safety Management Workshop for all food business operators, enabling them to plan and prepare for the multiple food safety and quality audits any such business is likely to undergo each year, particularly when supplying to retailers, exporting, or preparing for accreditation to standards such as the BRC Global Standard in Food Safety, ISO 22000, or Bord Bia Quality Assurance Standards. (Limited places, booking essential: www.ucc.ie/en/fitu)
The Menu was especially delighted to come across hummus from Izz and Iman, of Cafe Izz, currently trading at Douglas and Mahon Farmers’ markets, whose own origins as Palestinians surely imbues them with an added cultural culinary advantage, the Middle East being the original home of this foodstuff.
The Cafe Izz version is entirely vegan — a divinely balanced concoction blended to a silky smooth nutty puree with just the right amount of citric bite and garlicky sting, most exquisite with grilled flatbread, mixed olives and green salad.
Dead Centre Marooned IPA, 5.5% ABV; 440ml - €3.20-€3.70
Stockists: Bradleys, World Wide Wines, Thompsons, O’Briens, Bierhaus Cork.
Dead Centre Brewing from Athlone is the first brewery to open in Westmeath under the steady hand of Liam Tutty.
A taproom and pizzeria is due to open any day now right on the banks of the River Shannon at Custume Pier.
Marooned IPA is their flagship and is made with Pale Malt, Red X malt and local Kilbeggan organic oats which add a pleasing soft texture and a good base to show off the Perle, Simcoe and Mosaic hops.
Marooned pours a hazy gold and has a good balance of malt and hop flavours, a creamy texture from the oats, a lingering bitter orange character, and a clean dry finish.