The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Funding food producers

It can be hard for small food producers to find the wherewithal for necessary expansion so The Menu is delighted to bring word of funding opportunities for food producers in South and West Cork, via the LEADER funding programme, managed by SECAD and supported by Cork County Council.

With up to €200,000 available for specialty food companies and start-ups, six Cork businesses (including Frank Hederman Smoke House and Clonakilty Chocolate) have been beneficiaries this year of €300,000 in investment and SECAD is looking for other businesses seeking investment to join this elite roster.

LEADER Food Funding is well-suited to those producing uniquely local food stuffs or marketing and processing for strategically identified sectors including honey and apple processors. www.secad.ie

Slow Food pop-up dinner

While the global Slow Food movement appears strangely moribund at a time when its core ethos should be an essential part of any movement to address a broken global food system’s impact on climate change and biodiversity loss, the East Cork convivium continues to operate with vivacity and vigour, and a benefit Pop-Up Dinner (July 6) at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, cooked by the current crop of 12-week certificate students, comes highly recommended, not least because all proceeds go to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. (Slow Food Members, €45; Non-Members €50. Booking: 021 4646 785 or email slowfoodeastcork@gmail.com)

Wine, dine at Adare Manor

The Adare Manor hotel, in Co Limerick, whose wining and dining experience under chef Mike Tweedie and very wonderful sommelier Jurica Gojevic is particularly impressive, presents a special evening (July 7) of wine tasting with three leading American wine houses (Domaine de la Cote, Pax Wines and Matthiasson) followed by a fine dining seasonal menu to acknowledge Independence Day earlier in the week. (€95 pp. Booking: 061 605 271 or GuestRelations@adaremanor.com.)

Afternoon ‘Sea’

Dublin’s Cliff Townhouse offers a special Afternoon ‘Sea’, a quirky take on afternoon tea featuring a fine seafood selection, including potted monkfish with sourdough croutons, lobster, crab claws, mussels, Harty’s Oysters and Irish smoked salmon. www.clifftownhouse.ie

Today’s special

The Menu is returned from a splendid trip to Clare. The trip began with a splendid banquet cooked by chefs Sunil Ghai (Pickle, Dublin) and Peter Jackson (Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare) for a Eurotoques Ireland celebration of 20 years of St Tola Goats Cheese and served up at a long table running down the centre of the barn on the St Tola farm, with the herd of milking goats dispersed on either side.

So close, the goats were in touching distance of every diner’s chair each time any chose to stick a nosey snout through the railings, and there was great commotion all together when one began to give birth to three gamine little kids soon staggering around the pen trying to find both feet and a first feed.

Not surprisingly, goat’s cheese featured heavily on the menu, including the soft creamy cheese and the hard gouda style cheese, paired with Moy Hill Farm leaves. Most intriguing of all though, was a soft washed-rind little number, still in development yet already presenting as a star of the future.

A tart, creamy interior and a rind with an undeniable waft of what The Menu was convinced was Rancheros, a spicy, savoury, pork-y hum that made for a delicious, complex mouthful and will be right back on to readers as soon as the finished version becomes available for public consumption. www.st-tola.ie

BOTTLE OF THE WEEK

Nohoval Elstar Irish Apple Wine,12% ABV; 70cl — €17.99

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Stockists: Matsons Bandon and Grange, Redmonds, Blackrock Cellar, McNean House

It is unlikely that we will never make fine wine here as grapes just cannot ripen at our latitude but could Apple Wine be the solution?

This brand new product from Daniel Emerson is made with Elstar apples grown on the excellent Cappoquin Estate and has been chaptalised to bring up its abv from c 9% to 12% to provide balance.

Aromas of citrus, white peaches and apple, bone dry and a lively texture on the palate with smoky edges and lingering apple peel and lime essence finish. Best served chilled with smoked salmon or shellfish, this is an impressive debut.

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