The Menu with Joe McNamee

The Menu with Joe McNamee
A scene from last year’s Hagstravaganza in Sligo.

Study of culture

The Menu has a hankering to make a return to the halls of Academe, particularly inspired by the prospect of a new Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture which begins in UCC this autumn, though the College of Art, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences.

This two year part-time degree (weekly evening lectures) offers an academic programme studying the development and evolution of Irish food culture, the first such programme with a dedicated focus on Irish food and culinary culture.

It examines food and culinary systems of the past and the present from the perspectives of production, processing, preservation, preparation and consumption and also looks at popular discourses such as farm to fork, ocean to plate and factory to plate.

It will also explore concepts such as identity, tradition, gender, memory, and ethics and their application to the study of food. Areas of study include food and culinary history, food and folklore, food and creative practice, food and literature, nutrition and health, food and the environment, sustainability, food policy, the contemporary Irish food system and research methods in foodways.

Business of food

Also on offer in UCC, this time from the Food Industry Training Unit, their Diploma in Food Science and Technology commences a new cycle of this two year part-time course on October 4, and covers the running of a food business along with food science, microbiology, food processing technology, nutrition and food business and facilitates career development. (

Crafty measures

Whenever The Menu has a lip on him for a fine Irish craft beer — which is pretty much every time he desires a beer — the fine draughts from Sligo’s White Hag Brewing Company are always worthy of consideration,

So he is very much looking forward to Hagstravaganza (July 26-27), an International Brewery Festival that is expected to bring visitors from the US, Russia and all over Europe, with visiting brewers — including some of Ireland’s very finest — trade guests and beer fans, and with a weekend theme, ‘80 Beers You’ve Never Tasted Before’, sounding for all the world like a challenge The Menu would be only to delighted to take on.

Some of the visiting brewers included names as hallowed as Bagby brewing from California, Collective Arts from Toronto, Cloudwater Brew Co from Manchester and Lambrate brewery from Milan.

Also on the programme are a food court of eight local craft food suppliers from the Sligo food trail, beer olympics yard games, the Sligo pub crawl and the noisiest train in Ireland into Sligo town on the Saturday evening. Always a wonderful town to visit at the best of times, a trip to Sligo has never sounded so appealing.

Today’s special

This week’s special has rather restricted retail availability, it being a freshly-baked scone served with jam and cream and procured from the Bantry House Tearooms where The Menu found himself last week having first conducted a most delightful interview with food writer Thom Eagle in an adjoining room.

The scone itself was a light and flavoursome affair, served with good butter, raspberry jam, cream and a decent Americano. But what elevated this simple repast to the pantheon was the location in which it was consumed, on an outdoor terrace overlooking a divine flower garden with exquisite Bantry Bay visible to one side.

The Menu would urge all readers who also share his penchant for gardening and horticulture to take a trip West, most especially while the weather is fine, to take a tour of the house and gorgeous gardens and then pause for afternoon tea, when all but the darkest soul will be forced to admit that it can betimes be a most wonderful world indeed.

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