The Menu: From restaurant reopenings to new launches, the latest food news with Joe McNamee

The Menu: From restaurant reopenings to new launches, the latest food news with Joe McNamee
The splendid White Mausu rayu range of chilli and oil-based condiments


It's never too late to get that last-minute Father's Day gift (even a day after is fine in the grand scheme of things) and ever since the Menu's own dear pater, Father Menu, assumed a less earthbound status, The Menu himself usually passes the day perusing some homemade card or other swiftly followed by a plea for fiscal intervention on behalf of one or other of his progeny.

However, for those seeking some divine and exceedingly last minute inspiration, might he suggest a perusal of the James Whelan Butchers Father’s Day Collection, including special packages of finest salt-aged beef — ribeye, striploin steaks and gorgeous cote de boeuf — delivered to the door within 15km of a JWB outlet or for those outside that range, perhaps a beef bond or gift card or even a copy of excellent Irish Beef Book, by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness. 

Granted, if following The Menu’s instructions, it won’t be there on the day itself but then again, you can hardly expect your paternal progenitor to be doing any cooking himself on the day, so simply show him this column, the record of you effecting such a transaction on his behalf and then land him with a selection of finest Irish craft beers or a choice vino from a fine local emporium such as Cork’s Bradley’s Off-Licence, or Curious Wines. 

The Menu: From restaurant reopenings to new launches, the latest food news with Joe McNamee
Father’s day gift of Himalayan salt-aged beef from James Whelan Butchers Caption.


For those planning on taking off to an Irish hotel for a staycation as soon as the lockdown on doing such things expires after the end of June, social distancing will obviously remain a dominant factor but you’ll hardly encounter a more social distance-friendly offering than the chance of having an entire hotel entirely for yourself and 30 of your family members alone for an entire weekend. 

The Cork International Hotel is launching a competition for the chance to win same, all benefiting the Rainbow Club, the Cork centre helping families living with autism. 

The Menu: From restaurant reopenings to new launches, the latest food news with Joe McNamee
Win a hotel for the weekend for you and your family: Rainbow Club founder and Cork International Hotel manager Carmel Lonergan. Pic: Brian Lougheed

With just 5000 tickets available at €20 a pop, the hotel aims to raise €100,000 with the lucky winners earning exclusive private use for the weekend of 10 & 11 July, with the package including two-nights B&B, a family concierge, private dinner for 30 on the Saturday night, including personal pianist, access to the Cinema Room, Fitness Suite and Children’s Aviator Playroom.


The Great Cork Bake Off in a just a scant couple of years had cemented itself in the popular affections of not just local budding bakers and confectioners but had also attracted a national following, all very much disappointed that it will not run this year, another victim of the coronavirus, but all is not lost for a virtual version runs until July 20, with a home bakers invited to submit their creation, following a theme of, ‘What I Missed During Lockdown’. 

Entries will be showcased online with the overall winner earning a stay at the Cork International Hotel. Email a photo of your baked creation to 


Another fine little farmer’s market, the Kilavullen Farmers’ Market, in the grounds of the Nano Nagle Centre, between Castletownroche and Mallow, is once more open for business, operating every second weekend (next outing, June 27), with HSE guidelines in place for safe shopping for the finest seasonal veg, fruit and flowers, along with handcrafted baked goods, breads, jams, chutneys, cordials, smoked salmon, fresh raw milk and yogurts. Also, unique to the market is the Killavullen Organic Buyers grouping, offering group discounts on bulk buying of foods and household supplies as part of a buyers co-operative. 


Rayu is a Japanese word for a condiment of spicy chilli oil (also liberally employed in Chinese cuisine) but that rather baldly glosses over the inherent wealth of its culinary potential, ever before The Menu makes mention of Dublin-based White Mausu’s range of quite stonking rayus, created by chef Katie Sanderson and her business and life partner, Jasper O’Connor.

The Menu: From restaurant reopenings to new launches, the latest food news with Joe McNamee

White Mausu is in existence for some years now, their rice bowls most popular indeed at all manner of festivals and public gatherings, and the jarred rayu range debuted in 2017. But, as the opening salvo was a peanut rayu, other than a fleeting encounter, it rather flew under The Menu’s radar, all things peanut sadly now banned from Chez Menu ever since one of his own progeny developed an anaphylactic condition directly related to a peanut allergy.

Thankfully, the range doesn’t end there: a sampling of a cashew rayu proved most enjoyable indeed although it left The Menu still hankering after the peanut version, but it was a recent encounter with the Black Bean Rayu that had him giggling like a giddy schoolchild, so taken was he with its bright, bold flavours and textures.

The word, ‘rayu’ may be Japanese but this take also incorporates Chinese and Korean influences and ingredients, specifically the addition of salty, umami-driven Chinese black beans and Sichuan pepper and the gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes/powder) along with crispy garlic, sugar, spices, sunflower oil and black sesame seeds.

The chilli hit is stentorian yet immensely manageable and its uses are myriad: as a last minute condiment to eggs, rice, raw or braised vegetables; as a marinade for meat or fish prior to cooking or as a grace note after cooking; and The Menu finished his rapidly depleted bottle by ‘swishing it out’ with the ingredients for a spicy vinaigrette to dress some lightly blanched crunchy new carrots from Food For Humans.

The Menu could go on in this fashion for hours.

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