The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Fishy Fishy restaurant has opened the new Blue Room wine bar in Kinsale. Picture: John Allen


The Restaurant Association of Ireland’s FBD Insurance-sponsored Food Destinations 2019 competition is now accepting applications from any suburb, village, town or region that believes it has a unique food tourism offering and wants to shout it out to the world.

Aspiring candidates will already have in place many of the essential elements including food festivals, gourmet trails, agri-tourism and farm visits, farmer’s markets and a range of good dining options at all levels for visitors. 

In addition, there should be an established and thriving producer/supplier network, linking local, small and specialty food producers with retail and hospitality businesses in their locality and plans for future development of the local food and hospitality sector will also be taken into account by the judges, along with education, training, development, employment and, most importantly, community collaboration.

The competition expands this year to also include another more localised category, that of Food Town, for towns and villages where tourism and vacationing is a primary component of the local culture and economy but whose unique food and hospitality offering doesn’t extend beyond town boundaries (see


Speaking of Food Tourism, Good Food Ireland have launched an online platform for their own food and drink tourism packages, a combination of existing offerings and some they have put together especially for their website. Specifically working with farmers and food producers, the experiences can be found right around Ireland allowing consumers to seek out and book a variety of experiences (


The Menu likes to lay down his head on a comfy pillow every bit as much as the next man or woman and one particular family favourite is the Dingle Skellig which has just further improved an already sterling family-friendly offering with a refurb adding 32 new deluxe guest rooms and suites, including five deluxe family guest rooms with interconnecting options (

Dublin’s gloriously salubrious Shelbourne hotel has also unveiled a major refit which sees the newly-opened Terrace become an outside venue for drinks and nibbles while the 1824 Bar is also open to the public ( And, to yet another fine establishment just recently shot of the builders with news that Fishy Fishy restaurant in Kinsale has just opened their newly Blue Room (pictured above), serving up wine and seafood tapas to the rear of their Kinsale-based flagship restaurant (


The Menu has long held a grá for the goat, both as a source of milk to make wonderful goat’s cheese and as an alternative meat source so is delighted to bring news of Newcastle West farming family, the Leahy’s, and their recent switch to goat’s milk and cheese production, resulting in Bally Goat’s Cheese.

Initially, they supplied milk for the making of Kerry-based Cordal Goat’s Cheese but when Cordal decided to wind up, the Leahys purchased the whole kit and caboodle and Bally Goat’s Cheese was born. Two flavoured versions, Garlic & Thyme and Honey & Chilli, are sound but The Menu will always opt for the unflavoured version, the better to first gauge the primary product and then to add his own flavour components.

This sublimely-balanced cream cheese combines rich creamy texture.


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