The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Juliette Davis, aged 8, with Alfie at the news that registrations for Street Feast 2019 are open. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall

There is really nothing in The Menu’s world to beat the breaking of bread with old friends, family, and neighbours and, equally, with strangers who might have the potential to become part of those previously listed tribes, which is why he is always delighted to make mention of Street Feast (May 5), Ireland’s annual day of street parties and community lunches, which last year saw 130,000 people take part in over 1,280 street feasts.

This year is part of the new National Community Weekend, hosted by the Department of Rural and Community Affairs and local County Councils in early May (

Speaking of such al fresco dining, tickets will soon become available for this year’s greatly extended Long Table dinner, part of the Cork Midsummer Festival (Twice daily: June 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21), each three-hour sitting offering eight courses with paired drinks (

Flexing their mussels

The prospect of a westwards jaunt to sample some of the finest fare from Irish seas and shores has The Menu furnishing the Bould Neidín with all manner of titbits and sweetmeats, the better to bribe him into yet another trip, in particular, to the 14th Connemara Mussel Festival (May 3-5) with highlights including an opening concert, a specialty food market, the Agriaware Pet Farm, a mobile unit and outdoor classroom for young and old, along with The ARC, an interactive mobile classroom, this one designed to raise awareness of aquaculture.

Cookery workshops include an interactive kids workshop with chefs John O’Toole and Marguriette Heanue of Kylemore Abbey, while Masterchefs of Seafood (May 5) features the incomparable Tim O’Sullivan of Renvyle House along with his colleague Caitriona Walsh and Maria Conboy from GMIT.


Limerick’s Riverfest (May 3-6) is a celebration of all things Limerick alongside the glorious Shannon; naturally the packed programme includes a healthy injection of the nosebag and dining opportunities along with craft and retail stalls and vintage amusements.

This year’s festival village includes the Limerick Food Experience, curated and supported by Limerick Local Enterprise Office, showcasing the best quality local artisan produce including local honey, apple juices, fresh cheese, vegan breads, baked goods and healthy snacks while the Riverfest BBQ competition sees local communities and groups entering a dish (chicken or beef) to be judged on the day.

Congrats all round

Congratulationss to chef Jess Murphy (Kai, Galway) recently announced as Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion 2019 and to Sheridans Cheesemongers, at Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt , winners of the immensely prestigious Guild of Fine Food Shop of the Year 2019.

Today’s special

Though it has the sluggish viscosity of an especially thick double cream served straight from the fridge, but the moment Orchard Cottage Dairy Farm’s new cow’s milk kefir hits the palate, a celestial sprightliness abounds for it is effortlessly light and refreshing when tasted, a bright, clean lactic flavour somewhere between sweet and sour, as healing as it is heartening.

The Menu could pass hours conjuring up suitable pairings but each further solo sup appears to confirm one thing in his mind, that it is hard to improve on perfection; mind you, one of James Scannell’s Knockmealaguala apples, grated into a bowl and topped with the OCDF kefir and a teaspoon of Wildwood Aged Blackberry Balsamic vinegar did run perfection a pretty close second.

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