The Menu: The latest news from the world of food

Joe McNamee plates up the latest in food news.

Food Writers’ Guild awards

While The Menu is very obviously looking forward to Paddy’s Day shenanigans, he briefly takes pause from ironing his fluorescent green mankini to cast his mind back to yet another splendid edition of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild’s annual Food Awards, that recently took place in Glover’s Alley, in Dublin.

This year’s winners included two superb cheeses, Young Buck (see Today’s Special), from Co Down, and another from the Cork-based Hegarty stable, Teampall Geall, a sweet, nutty comté style creation with a lovely ‘afterburn’ of the farmyard, one of The Menu’s most favourite new cheeses of recent years. 

David Watson (Killahora Orchards); Andrew Workman (Dunany Flour Organic); Barry Walsh (Killahora Orchards); Charlie Cole (Broughgammon); Jean Baptiste Enjelvin (Hegartys Cheese); Peter Hannan (Hannan Meats); Dan Hegarty (Hegartys Cheese) and Leonie Workman (Dunany Flour Organic). Pic: Paul Sherwood
David Watson (Killahora Orchards); Andrew Workman (Dunany Flour Organic); Barry Walsh (Killahora Orchards); Charlie Cole (Broughgammon); Jean Baptiste Enjelvin (Hegartys Cheese); Peter Hannan (Hannan Meats); Dan Hegarty (Hegartys Cheese) and Leonie Workman (Dunany Flour Organic). Pic: Paul Sherwood

Also acknowledged were the truly splendid Workman family, of Dunany Farm, in Co Louth, and their Organic Spelt Berries, an Irish wholegrain of incomparable quality. Killahora Orchards, Co Cork, picked up Best Irish Drink for their exquisite Rare Apple Ice Wine (see Today’s Special) while Outstanding Organisation Award went to 3fe coffee company, in Dublin, for their commitment to sustainability in the areas of purchasing principles, waste and energy use, staff welfare and community. 

The Environmental Award went to Broughgammon Farm, in Co Antrim, a truly progressive outfit who produce staggeringly delicious cabrito kid goat meat, free-range rosé veal and seasonal wild game, all the while maintaining an exceptional commitment to the environment and ethical farming. 

The Menu was also personally delighted to see Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners hoist the Community Food Award on behalf of this very splendid charitable organisation, operating in the city since the famine years of the 1840s while a thoroughly deserved lifetime achievement award went to ‘Mr Meat’ himself, Peter Hannan, of Hannan Meats. irishfoodwritersguild.ie

In vino veritas

L’Atitude 51 stage another of their very popular Speed Tastings (March 22), whereby, on foot of a quick tasting primer, each participant hits the floor for six rounds of highly sociable blind tasting, also including Prosecco reception and canapés, while their splendid Wine Fundamentals course (Level 2, March 23) commences for a four-week run for those wishing to build on knowledge acquired at Level 1. latitude51.ie

Fostering talent

The latest outing for Chef Collab, chef Chad Byrne’s splendid initiative to foster burgeoning young culinary talent in Irish professional kitchens, takes place in Bow Lane Dublin (March 25) with mentor chefs including Conor Spacey (Food Space), Gaz Smith (Michael’s, Dublin) and Graeme Dodrill (Peploe’s on the Green). www.chefcollab.com

Kai café & restaurant’s Cookbook Club sees chef Jess Murphy cook dishes from A Very Serious Cookbook: Contra and Wildair (March 26) by Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske. Booking essential (kaicaferestaurant.com).

TODAY’S SPECIAL

While The Menu has long been an admirer of Mike Thomson’s Young Buck raw-milk blue cheese from Co Down, he realised that he had never made mention of this fine Stilton-style cheese in these august pages and, on foot of Thomson’s recent accolade from the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (see above) is now determined to rectify that omission for this pungent, salty-sweet and creamy creation is a most sublimely balanced affair, requiring little more than a plain cracker and possibly a glass or two of one of Killahora Orchards impossibly superb Rare Apple Ice Wine.

Produced just outside Cork City, a dessert wine of balance and complexity that would give many of the top grape-derived equivalents a thoroughly sound whipping. (mfcheese.com; killahoraorchards.ie)

Beer of the week

Brewmaster Irish IPA, 5.2% ABV; 500ml — €3.49

Stockists: Independent off-licences and pubs primarily in Dublin, north Leinster and Connacht.

Dundalk Bay Brewery began production in 2018 and quickly picked up awards at beer festivals such as the Alltech festival which is on again this weekend in the Convention Centre in Dublin. Brewmaster’s core range includes this IPA, a red ale and a lager and there are seasonal variants due including a Cask Aged Weiss beer and a Russian Imperial Stout.

This pours a copper gold colour with a light fluffy head and aromas of grapefruit and lime on a solid malt background. Chinook, Cascade and Citra hops add more citrus to the palate and a decent quantity of bitterness on the finish.

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