The Menu: Loving the spud

Waterford-based GIY are joining forces with Bord Bia to search for Ireland’s favourite potato, a quest for inner ‘spudlove’, encouraging the growing, cooking and consumption of the National Tuber and participation in a ‘Spud-Off’, whereby local winners compete in a national competition at the GIY GROW festival, in Waterford, in mid-September.

The Menu: Loving the spud

Open to individuals, families, friends, groups and communities, online tuition is available from Spudmeister Dermot Carey, curator of the Lissadell Heritage Potato Collection (

For those unable to make the Big Smoke for the Bloom Garden Festival this weekend, the Mallow Home and Garden Festival (June 5-7) has plenty for the keen grower/gardener as well as a tidy Specialty Food Zone, featuring some fine local nosh ( Speaking of GIY, one of its many community groups, an integral part of GIY’s gameplan, has been established in Mitchelstown with guest speaker Mary Ellen Kenneally talking Herbs/Kitchen Gardening (June 4, 8pm) at the Ozanam Centre, Thomas St, Mitchelstown (also seeds/seedling ‘Bring’n’Swap’).


To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Diploma in Speciality Food Production, UCC hosts a one-day symposium especially aimed at speciality food producers, including former students who have completed the course and are working in the industry along with stakeholders from support agencies, government departments and businesses. The central focus is the continued key role of education and training to growing this particular food sector and features keynote industry speakers, concluding with an open panel discussion (email:

If in Limerick today check out the World Chip Championships, seeking the finest chip/frite (or, heaven forbid, wedge?) on the planet, all part of the Culture & Chips festival, a wonderful blend of music and mastication, sited in the Spiegeltent until June 2, including Caberet des Frites, an inspired combination of music, burlesque and, yes, more chips (


The Menu loves nothing more than sitting down to a meal cooked by one who loves him dearly which is why he so greatly enjoys dining solo and highly recommends the latest cooking class, Cooking for One (June 6), from the very splendid Carmel Somers, down in her Good Things Café Cookery School, in glorious Sheep’s Head. As well as learning how to cook two week’s worth of dishes (meat, fish and vegetarian) in a single day, there is also a very smart module on avoiding waste, including saving dinner should evening plans alter (

The Cornstore, in Cork has launched a new Early Bird menu, a three-courser for €25 being a most competitive offering indeed (, while Dublin’s Cliff Townhouse chef Sean Smith has added a Halibut Gravlax to his ever expanding RAW food menu for the summer months (


The Menu is very partial to snacking on Gidi Gur’s Middle Eastern spiced lamb and beef kebabs at various farmers’ markets and is always mindful to pocket a little tub or two of Gidi’s splendid Zhoug, a spiky chilli sauce, native to Yemen. Made with fresh herbs, spices, olive oil and plenty of green chillis, this simple little condiment may appear a rather benign pesto but a mighty chilli kick has a defibrillating effect on all manner of dishes (

Beer of the week

Reel Deel “Irish Blond” Amber Ale, 4.5% ABV, 500ml - €3.69


Abbot Ale House, Bradleys, McHughs, Cork’s Terenure

Widely available in Mayo and Sligo Reel Deel were founded last year in Crossmolina in County Mayo (on the River Deel), and the first beer from Marcus Robinson’s 16hl kit was this amber ale.

Despite being called a Blond, as it says on his website: “like most Irish blonds, at heart, she’s a redhead!”.

Light copper colour, citrus and spice aromas, soft malted palate with some spiky edges and a crisp hopped finish. This is a well-constructed beer well worth seeking out along with Jack the Lad Pale Ale and the soon to be released Say Nowt Stout.

— Leslie Williams

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