The Menu: Wine Producers’ Weekend in Co Mayo (Feb 26-27)

The bould Neidín is hardly a very wet week back from his winter sojourn in St Tropez and The Menu is saddling him up once more, this time for a gallop of the west coast to Knockranny House Hotel, for the Wine Producers’ Weekend (February 26-27). 

The Menu: Wine Producers’ Weekend in Co Mayo (Feb 26-27)

It is a splendid event featuring tastings and masterclasses, hosted by one of The Menu’s favourite sommeliers Nick Faujours, and the wonderful Sinead Cabot of Cabot & Co wine importers.

Add sumptuous food from the talented chef Seamus Commons and The Menu can think of no place he’d rather be, lounging around the Library bar with one of its splendid cocktails. ( www.knockrannyhousehotel.ie )

FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT

Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 (February 29 to March 13) is an annual event from Fairtrade Ireland, now operational here for 20 years, that turns the focus on the Fairtrade farmers of the developing world and their achievements and opportunities in the face of myriad challenges, not least the ongoing battle to ensure they are paid a fair price.

The programme includes opportunities to meet some of these farmers visiting Ireland to take part in events in Fairtrade towns, schools and colleges throughout the land ( www.fairtrade.ie ).

Dine in Dublin (February 22-28) Food Festival taking place throughout the Big Smoke and involving 50 of Dublin’s finer restaurants includes live demos from top chefs and deals for some fine eating opportunities ( www.dineindublin.ie )

ALI’S KITCHEN

Granted, Connolly’s Bookstore wasn’t devoted to culinary literature though The Menu acquired many an epicurean tome there and he was greatly saddened when his good friend Adrian Connolly announced its closure.

However, if any news could heal those wounds it was hearing that the new tenant of one of Cork city’s lovelier commercial premises was to be Ali’s Kitchen, brainchild of chef/proprietor Ali Honour, one of the more considered culinary creatives in the country and a baker of the highest order.

The Menu recommends especially her sourdough bread and predicts her ginormous sticky buns will become one of the food stories of 2016 ( www.aliskitchencork.com ).

The Community Foundation of Ireland has opened applications for a number of €250 grants to bolster your Street Feast party next June, community and neighbourhood gatherings designed organised by the citizens themselves ( www.streetfeast.ie ).

Howth Castle Cookery School host Fiona Uyema, author of Japanese Food Made Easy, for hands-on classes/demos (February 25/26) ( www.fionauyema.com  & www.howthcastle.com ).

The Limerick branch of the Hook & Ladder Cookery School presents an ongoing series of cookery classes incorporating a five-course meal, the event (February 26) focusing on Fermented Foods and hosted by Val O’Connor (email sarah@hookandladder.ie ).

The Sternview Gallery at Nash 19 is hosting an excellent exhibition of primitive masks from the private collection of Arbutus Bread maestro Declan Ryan ( www.nash19.com )

TODAY’S SPECIAL

On Thursdays, at Mahon Point Farmer’s Market, one of the longest queues is always to be found at Lolo’s steak sandwich stall, noses a-twitching at the aromas of beef sizzling on the hotplate, but longterm fans come to realise that Lolo’s menu is a fluid affair and keep their eyes peeled for the appearance of random outliers, such as the creation Lolo concocted for The Menu one cold, damp morning. www.facebook.com/LeLoloKitchen

BEER OF THE WEEK

Powers Three Swallows, Single Pot Still Whiskey, 40% ABV, 70cl — €44.95

Stockists: O’Donovans, Bradleys, No. 21 Group, 1601 Kinsale, widely available.

After years allowing Powers to take a back seat to the other Irish Distillers brands Powers Gold Label was re-launched late in 2015.

Gold Label is still excellent with a solid spicy pot-still character, but even better is the new Three Swallows Release.

Three Swallows is aged in Bourbon and a small portion of Oloroso casks and is said to be a revival of the original style (so contains no age statement).

I found a distinct vanilla and spice character with citrus and green apple and a hit of caramel on the finish. — Leslie Williams

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