Skibbereen Farmer’s Market expands and contracts with the seasons, an indicator of its status as a true ‘farmer’s’ market, hosting more producers and growers selling their own product directly to consumers than many urban markets combined and, thus, there is naturally a fall-off in stalls once the growing season ends.
But, one fine morn in early September, shopping for a dinner he was cooking at Taste of West Cork Food Festival, The Menu was again struck by the fecundity and abundance of the West Cork larder, a reminder that a good farmer’s market is the first stop for the very finest of world-class Irish produce.
Aoife Nic Giolla Coda, carrying on in the footsteps of her father, Mícheál, is the 2015 Irish Federation of Beekeepers’ Supreme Champion and her Galtee Honey is The Menu’s pick of the year.
Produced using native Irish Black Bees gathering nectar from a huge variety of flora from three counties, it is a complex affair, a deep golden amber with a taste profile to match, robust toffees and caramels that dissolve into grace notes of clover and blackberry. www.galteehoney.com
The Menu was born into the generation that turned its back on our traditional culinary heritage and instead embraced the first wave of convenience foods from the industrially-processed food sector and may well have been lost forever were it not for a teenage encounter with Veronica Steele and her now legendary Milleens Cheese, the latter rather a shock to the system for a young Menu, heretofore raised on the sweaty orange rubber that passed for cheese at the time.
It was his first introduction to the incomparable pleasures of real food and also to the pioneering Steele, who can be justly regarded as the godmother of the modern Irish food producer movement and one of the greatest of great Irish food heroes.