The Menu: Cork Midsummer Fest

The Menu enjoyed a splendid repast, cooked by some of Ireland’s finest chefs, including Eurotoque Ireland General Commissioner, Graham Neville, of Dublin’s Restaurant 41, at Ballymaloe House this week. 

The Menu: Cork Midsummer Fest


It celebrated the 30th anniversary of Eurotoques Ireland and its founder, Myrtle Allen, also one of the key figures in establishing this pan-European chefs’ organisation. The occasion also marked the 12th edition of the Eirgrid Eurotoques Food Awards, another Allen innovation, with all winners independently nominated by Eurotoques’ chef members.

This year’s winners were: Fergus & Sandra Dunne, Pigs on the Green, Co Offaly, and Dave & Diana Milestone, Andarl Farm, Co Mayo, jointly awarded for their free range pork; Aisling and Michael Flanagan, Velvet Cloud Irish Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Co Mayo, for excellence and innovation in dairy; James Gannon, Cloonconra Cheese, Co Roscommon, for raw milk and raw milk cheese made using his own Irish moiled cattle; Hugh O’Malley, Achill Oysters, Co Mayo, for excellence in aquaculture; and the founders of Real Bread Ireland for excellence in baking and educational initiatives; while a special commendation went to Ardkeen Quality Food Stores, Co Waterford, for their support of Irish speciality food producers.


Sadly, a clash of dates with the Euros 2016 means it appears there will be no reprise of last year’s very successful Long Table dinner event in Cork’s city centre as part of the Cork Midsummer Fest but there is an edible angle to one very intriguing literary event, Crosstown Drift (June 25) that commences in Alchemy coffee shop, on Barrack Street, and sees a plethora of writers on a day-long ambling ‘read’ through the city with a pitstop in the Farmgate Restaurant, in the English Market, one of the highlights of the intinerary.

Another old favourite, the Picnic in the Park, is unmissable family fun, most especially if we should see a reprise of the recent fine weather ( The 2016 Cork & Kerry Food Forum (June 26/27) in Cork’s City Hall is a most pleasant way of taking the temperature of the local food scene with a large indoor food market featuring 75 producers from the region, tastings and cookery demos, including chef Kevin Dundon and The Happy Pear’s David and Stephen Flynn. (


If they were to serve only sawdust, The Menu would still happily travel to the lovely town of Westport for The Westport Food Festival (June 24-26) but with the West increasingly becoming one of the hotspots of Irish food, The Menu expects to be putting away infinitely more appealing and substantial fare for both body and soul and is especially keen to partake in a Clew Bay Kayaking Tour & Gourmet Picnic (

Finally, Annam Kitchen, host a Cook Your Indian Takeaway Favourites cooking class (June 25) in their Cork venue ( tel. 087 685 6315)


The Menu has always been overly fond of ‘mother’s ruin’, most especially since the arrival of a whole new wave of excellent independent Irish craft gins and while he makes great sport inventing all manner of creative cocktails utilising same, his default concoction remains the trusty G&T but such is the calibre of these new gins, the usual suspects on the tonic shelf grow increasingly underwhelming which is why The Menu delights so much in Poacher’s, the very first Irish tonic water on the market.

Made from Irish spring water, it is sweetened with sugar beets, the traditional quinine is administered with restrained hand, and the blessed addition of orange and astutely selected botanicals make this a very refreshing beverage in its own right but paired with a fine Irish gin, such as Shortcross, yielded a truly vibrant G&T that had The Menu’s recent guests clucking with appreciation and banging the table for more.

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