Eventually, the main house was sold and, in 2004, its central protagonists, Karen Austin and Con McLoughlin, set up Lettercollum Kitchen Project, a ‘healthy deli’ in Clonakilty with an on-site kitchen, ever since, a beacon for all that is best about West Cork food. The Lettercollum Cookbook: Recipes from the Kitchen Project (Onstream Publishing), by Karen Austin, is a new cookbook echoing those fine meals served in the original Lettercollum House. The Menu always relishes the autumnal arrival of earthy root vegetables, real comfort food for winter ahead, and Austin is no different, but he is equally entranced by her propensity for delicate Asian- and Indian-influenced additions; ‘Grilled Prawns with Whiskey Mayonnaise’ has The Menu pining once more for that delightful old West Cork dining room where he first tasted this delightful dish. www.lettercollum.ie
Elaine Walsh’s highly entertaining Cookbook Club returns to Dublin’s Radisson Blu (www.radissonblu.ie/royalhotel-dublin) with a four-courser menu derived from cookbook The Happy Pear: Recipes & Stories From the First Ten Years, by David & Stephen Flynn, of The Happy Pear restaurant, in Wicklow. With the Flynn brothers being big cheerleaders for all manner of local, organic and healthy foods, the occasion (December 1) should combine a splendid evening’s epicurean entertainment with an opportunity to ‘re-consecrate the temple’ and get New Year’s Resolutions off to an early start. www.cookbookclub.com
Bizarrely, once again, there appears to be no room at the inn this Christmas for the stallholders of Douglas Farmers’ Market, at their usual Douglas Court Shopping Centre car park pitch but an alternative nearby venue is set to be confirmed. No such worries for the sublimely-located Killavullen Farmers’ Market, in the Nano Nagle Centre, near Mallow, with their December markets (December 6/13/20) ( www.facebook/Killavullen-Farmers-Market ).
Heartiest of congratulations to 22-year-old Matthew Logan, of Chapter One Restaurant, Dublin, for scooping the very prestigious Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2014.
And while we’re at it, an equally hearty bula bas for CIT Tourism & Hospitality students Saoirse O’Brien and Finbarr Collins, who both took European Gold at the annual Association of European Tourism & Hospitality Schools, this year held in Belgrade.
The Lismore Food Company do a most intriguing Dark Chocolate & Cardamom biscuit, packaged in very becoming livery, to boot. But betimes it is the simple, old pleasures that most appeal and LFC also produce a commendably old-school All Butter Irish Shortbread using just flour, sugar and so much delicious Irish butter that The Menu’s only option was to allow the aforementioned shortbread to melt away to nothing atop his ecstatically slavering tongue. www.thelismorefoodcompany.com
Bradleys, Matsons, Galvins, Independents, Redmonds, Deveneys Dundrum, Carryout Group, O’Briens, Molloys,
‘Tis the season for seasonal beers and many Irish Craft Brewers have brewed Christmas ales and winter warming stouts perfect for gifting and some even match mince pies. Smithwicks have brought back their Winter Spirit and the likes of Trouble Brewing and Whitewater Brewery’s offerings should be available now. Hoppy Christmas is made from Simcoe hops and packed with pine and tropical fruit aromas on a solid malt base, and with a refreshing bitter clean finish.