The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Pat O’Hara and Tom O’Riordan, The Raven proprietors, Caitriona Twomey, Cork Penny Dinners, Takashi Miyazaki of Ichigo Ichie, Paul O’Leary and Tom Kalinauskas, Cork Penny Dinners and Caroline Dunne, Cork Simon Community, announce a fundraising evening for April 29 with Michelin-starred chefs. Picture: Dan Linehan

CHARITY DINNER

The Menu is delighted to bring further detail to an item alluded to in last weekend’s column, news of what promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s culinary calendar, a fundraising dinner (April 29) in aid of two Leeside charities, Cork Penny Dinners, recent recipients of the prestigious Irish Food Writers’ Guild social responsibility award, and Cork Simon.

This event sees four Cork Michelin starred chefs assembling for the first time to create a special dinner menu with long-time holder of a star, Ross Lewis, chef-proprietor of Dublin’s Chapter One, and originally from Cork, joining forces with the three new Cork arrivals to the Michelin gang— Rob Krawczyk (Restaurant Chestnut, Ballydehob), Ahmet Dede (Mews, Baltimore) and Takashi Miyazaki (Ichigoe Ichie, Cork City) — all receiving their first star last autumn.

The fundraiser was conceived of by Lewis along with two old friends, Tom O’Riordan and Pat O’Hara, proprietors of The Raven Bar and each of the four chefs will deliver one amuse bouche and one full course, with each course paired with a matching wine, and while tickets at €225pp may be a little hefty at first glance, be minded that all proceeds go to the charities and, what’s more, it is actually a relatively inexpensive way of sampling the combined efforts of this fabulous four. (Tickets: info@theravenbar.com)

BEER BREWING COURSE

Mescan Brewery offer a new series of hands-on brew courses, beginning with Learn How to Brew a Belgian Beer (April 20) in their brewery near Westport covering all aspects of brewing from ingredient selection to packaging the finished beer.

With lunch and dinner included, The Menu is saddling up Neidin at this very moment readying his fine steed for a prolonged hike up the west coast. (Booking essential: www.mescanbrewery.com).

And while we’re on the subject, Ireland’s longest running craft beer festival, The Franciscan Well Brewery Easter Beer Festival (April 19-21) celebrates its 20th annual outing by hosting a combined total of 20 Irish breweries and 60 rotational taps. (Admission, free, further info: www.facebook.com/FranciscanWellBrewPub/)

EASTER DINING

West Cork-based Ummera smokehouse are now taking orders for Easter dining treats (including chicken, duck and bacon) with The Menu being a great fan of their smoked beef (www.ummera.com).

For the traditionalists, Bewley’s Cafe in Grafton St offers an Easter Eggs-perience (April 13-26) activity package for the children along with specially created Easter Egg Hot chocolate and Orange Chocolate Espresso. Ardmore’s Cliff House Hotel go further still with their own CLIFF10 chocolate, and a chocolate-inspired tasting menu in their Michelin starred House restaurant, covering both savoury and sweet! (April 18-21). www.cliffhousehotel.ie

TODAY’S SPECIAL

Ditty’s Irish Smoked Oatcakes have been around long enough to cause The Menu to question his own tardiness in alerting readers to this fine product. How fine?

Fine enough to merit mention because The Menu more often than not prefers to eat his cheese on its own, most especially when it is a superb Irish farmhouse cheese, of sufficiently complex flavour to stand on its own two legs.

The Ditty offering is a biscuit of soft yet nutty texture made with rolled oats from Co Armagh, in turn smoked by the great Frank Hederman, at his Belvelly Smoke House, in East Cork, resulting in the sweet smoky notes that harmonised beautifully with some creamy Gubbeen and equally well with a wedge of Ballinrostig mature Gouda. (www.dittysbakery.com)

Beer of the Week

Galway Bay Althea Session Ale, 4.8% ABV, 500ml - €3.49

Stockists: Ardkeen, Martins, SuperValu, McCambridges, widely available

Galway Bay Brewery now have 12 bars in Galway, Dublin and Limerick and at a time when it feels like Diageo and Heineken are doing everything in their power to kill the still nascent craft beer industry, they are a breath of fresh air.

Althea pours a light gold colour with aromas of peach and tangerine  and a background of citrus — more citrus on the palate and with a decent kick of bitterness from Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hops.

A good session ale should ideally be crisp, refreshing, and slip down easily — this is just about perfect.

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