The Menu: Upcoming food highlights

The Menu: Upcoming food highlights
Norma Dineen, who left her corporate role to get a work/life balance and who now is an award winning cheese-maker working from the home farm; Bó Rua Farm, Ballynoe

Food news with Joe McNamee

Franciscan Festival

The Franciscan Well brew pub, on Cork’s North Mall, returns with what is usually the ‘first swallow’ of the discerning Irish craft beer imbiber’s new year, the eighth outing of its Cask Ales and Strange Brew Festival (January 30-February 1) celebrating cask-conditioned ales and a variety of other curious offerings, with all the other participating breweries competing for the Beoir Cask Competition, and a whiskey and beer pairing session will acknowledge Franciscan Well’s ongoing collaboration with Jameson, as on-site Pompeii Pizza continue to serve up wonderful pizzas.


It still being the month of ‘Veganuary’, the profile of the plant-based diet is certainly flying high and though The Menu freely accepts full-blown veganism may not be for everyone, himself included, he equally believes it well behoves everyone, for reasons of nutritional wellbeing and sustainability, to make an effort to incorporate at least one vegan meal into their weekly diet all year round, ensuring that it is based around finest local produce and not many of the utterly unsustainable alternatives (avocados, almond milk, etc) that appear to constitute much of the diet of novice vegans.

Any in the market for culinary inspiration would do well to check out the upcoming Vegan Foodie Festival (January 30-February 2), in Dublin, where selected restaurants and other dining destinations will offer special menus and events in a bid to build awareness.


Meanwhile, Limerick chef Ciara Brennan and nutritional therapist Rebecca Steele have been collaborating on a series of vegan workshops and cookery demos in Limerick and Clare. Brennan, founder of Happy Food at Home and vegan stallholder (Ennis Farmers’ Market, Limerick Milk Market, Herbert Park, Dublin), offers demos and workshops, include refreshments.; 087 647 8693

Allta Oz benefit

Newly opened and already much acclaimed Dublin wine bar Allta hosts guest chef Kevin Burke (a Dubliner until recently head chef of London’s Michelin-starred The Ninth) for a wine-led dinner (January 28) in aid of the New South Wales Fire Brigade, in light of the catastrophic fires in Australia.

In partnership with Le Caveau Wines, Aussie tipples on the night will include Gareth Belton’s Gentle Folk Wines and also the output of Victoria wunderkind Patrick Sullivan.

Today’s special

The Menu makes no apology for harking back once more to the recent CÁIS Irish Cheese Awards, this time to hymn the praises of Bó Rua Cheddar, which picked up silver in the New Cheesemaker category.

Bó Rua is made by Norma Dineen on the dairy farm she and husband Tom own and operate in Ballynoe, in east Cork, where they rear montbeliarde (the ‘red cow’ that gives the cheese its name) and friesian cows and where Norma’s farmhouse cheesemaking dairy is sited, and The Menu is delighted to report said farm in a participant in the Biodiversity Regeneration in a Dairy Environment programme, which aims to restore, conserve and enhance natural habitats, which is very much part of the future for Irish agriculture.

What of the cheese itself?

Well, The Menu and his progeny alike were greatly taken with this creamy, mellow and rather nutty affair with a very balanced finish of sweet and savoury caramel notes which was quite delicious eaten with a crisp Elstar apple from Knockmealaguala Orchards, in Ovens, Co Cork.


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