Joe McNamee looks at the latest news from the world of food.
Having committed nuptials in the very same spot, The Menu will always have something of a grá for Barnabrow House, in East Cork, just a stone’s throw from Ballymaloe House, and can also recommend the splendid cooking of Barnabrow chef Stuart Bowes who is doing an autumnal evening BBQ (September 6) to be served family style with a buffet-like dessert trolley on hand to seal the deal.
What’s more, this BBQ should be something particularly special as Stuart’s new Argentinian sous chef worked for several years with Francis Mallman, the Argentinian-born chef who is pretty much the global guru of open fire cooking.
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The Future of Farming, organised jointly with the Irish Bioenergy Association, Wood Fuel Quality Assurance scheme, and Department of Agriculture, Food, and The Marine, takes place on Cotter’s Firewood Farm, near Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, on August 29.
It aims to demonstrate the efficacy of high-quality dry firewood as a viable fuel option in an era when it has become an extremely relevant issue and, if you’re wondering about the grub angle, the event also sees the launch of Cotter’s Organic Lamb with cookery demo and BBQ.
Foodworks, a joint initiative from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and Teagasc, is looking for food and beverage entrepreneurs to apply for its 2020 programme, with packages valued at €50,000+ offering in-depth consultancy and advice from the three agencies, access to consumer and market research, feasibility funding, and bespoke mentoring with industry experts.
Galway Food Tours launch their Producers’ Soirees on August 29.
There will be visits to four venues, with food and drinks and an introduction to the Proper Chocolate Company (call 086 7332885 or email email@example.com)
Lough Eske Castle Hotel in always delightful Donegal sees out the summer season with a midweek gourmet getaway featuring fine fraternal fare courtesy of the hotel’s award-winning brothers Richard (head chef) and Andrew McKee (head pastry chef), a two-night package offering afternoon, three-course meal, and 20% off pre-booked spa treatments.
Over the last few decades, EU and Irish State agriculture policy did much to damage the native horticulture sector, meaning too much of the fruit and vegetables subsequently available to Irish consumers has been inferior, imported produce that clogs up the supermarket shelves.
Underneath the radar, however, operating without any subsidy, intervention, or external fiscal support of any kind, there exists a whole network of small growers driven by a passion for their work and the utterly splendid produce they raise on often tiny smallholdings, much of it organic or chemical free and all of it infinitely superior and of greater variety than that available to the mainstream shopper.
Certainly, you have to hunt high and low to seek out such a grower in your own locality but it is worth doing and then some, for Ireland, believe it or not, is one of the most benevolent growing climates in the world.
So, when the effort is put in, the rewards are substantial.
Just last week, The Menu made mention of Pink Fir Apples, employed as an accompaniment to his Goatsbridge Smoked Rainbow Trout.
Well, truth be told, those self same (wonderfully named!) potatoes have pretty much dominated his table ever since, a delicious nutty, waxy spud that he has used in myriad dishes, hot and cold, during his West Cork sojourn, with these particular beauties being sourced from Coolcaha Gardens, in Ballydehob, and grown by Lea Milkody, yet another of those splendid small growers who all need to be nurtured by Irish consumers with the same tender care those green-fingered goddesses and gods in turn apply to their magnificent produce.