The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee
Cask bar

Over the decades, at home and abroad, The Menu has always attempted to support refill shops, where the consumer brings along their own containers thus negating the need to wastefully dispose of excess packaging.

And he always pondered their seemingly inevitable failure, even in times of recession when shopping in emporiums seemed a no-brainer for most ordinary consumers. 

But he now suspects successful longevity for such enterprises won’t be the prospect of saving pennies —although that too is often a natural consequence of informed sustainable shopping — but of saving the planet, one piece of single-use, non-recyclable packaging at a time.

West Cork, one of the true testing grounds of the modern Irish food movement, is, naturally, once again to the fore in such an initiative. 

The Menu has been meaning for over a year to make some mention of the very excellent Twig (, billed as Clonakilty’s Minimal Waste Shop, an adjunct of the excellent little Olive Branch health food store and deli, which also does a very nice line in reusable, refillable containers. 

Shannen ‘Diva Boutique’ Doherty has added Leafling Mercantile ( to her own splendid Ballinspittle-based food portfolio, also offering some very nice local produce, while the uber-progressive Organico (, one of the country’s leading edible emporiums of all things delicious and healthy have opened their own ‘refillable’ wing with an excellent range available.

A Cask-full of brunch

Cork cocktail bar Cask is now open for weekend brunch which can be enjoyed in tandem with its seasonally-changing cocktail menu based around wild, foraged flavours, which sounds like a mighty fine prescription for ‘breaking the fast’ in a most leisurely fashion.

Dining all together

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THEATRE OF FOOD PRESENTS ‘AN EVENING WITH ...' Each evening in the Theatre of Food we will have a set menu 2-hour dining experience from 7pm until 9pm. You will get to meet and talk to the chef as they cook for you. FULL DETAILS - FRIDAY EVENING - KEVIN THORNTON 👨‍🍳🥩🍽 Friday sees the return of Kevin Thornton for another incredible food journey. Thornton, who has had a brace of Michelin stars to his credit, hosts Food for Life - a three-course meal for 25 guests on the festival's Friday evening. Food For Life is part of All Together Now's a sustainable mission. "The idea is green land, clean air and using ingredients that are close," says Thornton. BOOK HERE - ----------- SATURDAY EVENING - KERALA KITCHEN PRESENT A THALI FEAST 🌶🌶🌶 A thali gives you a taste of everyday Indian food, served up on a traditional metal thali plate. You will get to try Kerala Kitchen’s all-time favourite curries, including roadside bean curry, deadly dal, Kerala coconut chicken and prawn moilee. All served up with rice, raita, kuchumber and freshly-baked naan. Our head chef Bhupal promises to fill the place with the aroma of fresh curry leaves cooking, spices sizzling and sauces simmering! You will see how we blend and grind our spices, make our curries and chef Shoorbeer will demonstrate how we cook our naan in a traditional tandoor oven. This will be as close as you can get to an authentic Indian food experience without having to jump on a plane. BOOK HERE - ----------- SUNDAY EVENING - SOVA BUTCHER PRESENT A VEGAN FEAST! 🥦🥕🥔🍠 Sova Vegan Butcher is a purveyor of fine dining with vegan food prepared according to our own delicious and unique style. They put great care in composing vegetarian and vegan dishes that taste excellent while providing all the essential nutrients with the benefit for your body and soul. Our aim is to promote vegan food and a healthy lifestyle. BOOK HERE - ----------- ALL TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT ☀️ If you would like to register interest in next year’s festival, you can do so here:

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The Menu will be up to his oxters in his Grub Circus at next weekend’s All Together Now music festival in Waterford, and his many star guest speakers and performers from the Irish food world will include Darina Allen, Paul Flynn (The Tannery), Kevin Thornton, Martin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy), Kevin Aherne (Sage Midleton), Holly Dalton (Gertrude, Dublin), JR Ryall (Ballymaloe House), Enda McEvoy (Loam, Galway), Anna Haugh (Myrtle, London), Oisin Davis (The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin) and Belfast’s Bia Rebel, all involved in what promises to be a weird, wild, and wonderful weekend of culinary high jinks and he highly advises any and all festival-goers to pop in and say hello!

Today’s special

Mooching through the town of Bantry last week, The Menu and a pair of the progeny were still at a loss as to what they might constitute dinner that evening until they found themselves outside the premises of a very fine local family firm, Paddy O’Donoghue & Son. 

Now, O’Donoghue’s is a million miles away from those ‘butchers’ selling nothing but pre-packed clingfilm-sheathed packages of meat, Irish, usually, but provenance after that is vague at best.

O’Donoghue’s is an actual butchers, selling all parts of the animal from nose to tail, hoof to head, and with the oink, bleat, or bellow thrown in for free. 

It took No 2 Son mere seconds for his gaze to alight on some very fine looking aged rib eye steaks, flesh of deep vermillion and gorgeous creamy yellow fat, from beef cattle finished on their own farm and only crying out for a brief encounter with the pan. 

That evening, back home in their West Cork lair, he and said progeny whipped up a lovely champ of steamed local Queens, Glenilen butter, and scallions, and dressed a salad of fresh crisp organic lettuce and greens, procured in Organico, for a West Cork dinner of sublime proportions, most especially the funky, rich beef flavours of some truly exquisite meat.’Donoghue’sFamilyButchers

Spirit of the week

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Stockists: Bradleys, The Loop Dublin and Cork Airports, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin/Killarney, L Mulligan Grocer, DrinkStore

Cloudberry Gin was launched in November 2018 by Dundalkbased Nicola and Tom Grills — Nicola is a Cork native and the gin has finally arrived in the real capital (Bradleys, North Main St).

While juniper-driven, this has wild Cooley elderflowers with coriander and Cassia bark — its points of difference are grapefruit and cloudberries to add a pleasing bitter-sweet tinge.

Aromas of juniper, ripe fruit, and spice with floral touches — on the palate the juniper hits first, followed by herbs and spice, smooth (almost creamy), with rounded citrus and herb flavours on the finish.

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