The Menu: West Cork Literary Festival to interview Thom Eagle

Chef and food writer Thom Eagle, author of ‘First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal’ (Hardie Grant) who will be in conversation with Joe McNamee at West Cork Literary Festival, in Bantry, next week.


The Menu returns once again to the West Cork Literary Festival (until July 19) to conduct another public interview (July 16), this time delighted to have the pleasure and privilege of talking to Thom Eagle, a chef and food writer whose debut book, First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal, arrived to The Menu’s eyes as a fully-fledged classic of the food writing genre.

Ostensibly, it is a cookbook, though the entirety of its actual recipes and specific technical instructions could probably be transcribed on a sheet or two of paper, but what causes this tome to truly soar is the exposition of Eagle’s culinary philosophy, an eloquent and seemingly effortlessly literate deep dive that goes far beyond the mere mechanics of delivery and taste to explore, amongst other things, what it means to cook and our relationship with, and responsibility to and for, the ingredients we use as part of our greater responsibility to the world we now live in. (


Kate Ryan’s renews an ongoing alliance with Tots Pub, in Ballygurteen, near Clonakilty, for another of their renowned pop-up nights, this one featuring Rocksteady Food Co, who bring

their Jamaican-inspired Grub N Dub Club (July 20) to West Cork, with the on-site barn transformed for an evening of West Indian-style food and roots, reggae and ska on the sound system with the outdoor courtyard serving as the Grill Kitchen for open-fire cooking and, as regular readers will be aware, the Rocksteady Food Co do an especially fine line in Caribbean-style sauces, rubs and cocktail mixers which will feature heavily on the plate and palate. Tickets (€55pp) include welcome drinks, snacks, starters and family-style serving of main course with sides, desserts, sweet petites and music. (


Remaining in near enough the same locale, some intriguing dishes on a new summer menu from Clonakilty’s Richy’s Restaurant ranging from considered vegan offerings to heartiest carnivorous fare, all delivered with a pronounced Asian accent, with dishes such as a Fish Cake with Turmeric Bread with Sambal, especially catching The Menu’s eye, suggests a return visit is well overdue. (


While The Menu would happily guzzle good coffees and teas all day long, his stout little heart, plucky and all as it is, begs to differ, believing palpitations at this time of life are best restricted to those triggered by the nearness of his beloved Mrs Menu which is why he is betimes fond of a good herbal tea, sampling of late the range from Java Republic.

JR, first, deserve acclaim for their role as trailblazers in the area of sustainability and social responsibility around food production, establishing it as a core company ethos decades before it became the done thing. But a social conscience will only get you so far; the product itself needs to be able to stand equally on its inherent epicurean qualities.

While The Menu has enjoyed the panoply of flavours, he finds it hard to look past the organic herbal tisane that is Mint & Lemon Verbena, using finest Moroccan mint to deliver an exquisitely refreshing beverage which The Menu normally enhances further with a spoonful of good local honey, occasionally even making of a large jug of same to be served as a chilled drink on a hot day. What’s more, each tea bag is a hand-stitched and fully bio-degradable silken ‘tea pillow’, adding a sense of occasion to the consumption and salving the conscience of all guilt in its subsequent disposal. (

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