The menu: Ethical edibles

Betimes, The Menu is inclined to think there are more food awards than actual foodstuffs, so great has their proliferation become in recent years, but The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Community Food Awards remain exceptional and above criticism in his eyes. 

The menu: Ethical edibles

Designed to recognise that food is more than just a matter for palate or pocket, it acknowledges those exceptional individuals or organisations who work with their communities through the medium of food in a manner that is ethically and socially responsible, recognising that it is a fundamental human right for all to access nutritious and sustainable fare.

The 2016 winner, announced earlier this week, is Irish Seed Savers Association, the Clare-based seed bank dedicated to preserving native trees, fruits and vegetables, as well as performing educational outreach work.

The wonderful Organic Centre in Co Leitrim was highly commended and three other excellent organisations were also commended: Loaf Catering in Belfast, working with people with learning difficulties or autism, all profits supporting those same people to enter the workforce; Donegal’s OURganic Gardens, enabling gardeners to embrace organic methods of cultivation; and the Cork Food Policy Council, in particular, their Edible Greening Initiative highlighting the health, environmental and social benefits of growing food.


The splendid Savour Kilkenny food festival (Oct 28-31) celebrates its 10th birthday with another compelling programme of events, demos and dining opportunities in the Marble City including an alliance with publishers Gill Books featuring exclusive demos from many of their featured authors, including Darina Allen, joined by brother Rory O’Connell.

The huge programme defies extensive coverage but special mention must be given to the Pop-Up Café & Bookshop on the Parade, to be staffed by young people who have overcome various challenges and received special hospitality training to work in the festival ( ).

Food on the Edge (Oct 24/25), returns to Galway, sporting some of biggest names in world food, all there to deliver presentations and share ideas but an Irish-dominated panel, moderated by Sally McKenna and featuring chefs Danni Barry, Sunil Ghai, Raymond McArdle and sea plant specialist and GP Prannie Rhattigan discussing the future of Irish food is equally eye-catching.


The Ballinspittle Beef, Bacon, Beer and Barbecue Battle, an event as alliterative as it is carnivorous, welcomes entries from both amateur and professional BBQ chefs, with categories including Thrill of the Grill, Low’n’Slow and Ethnic while Eight Degrees, Blacks and Dungarvan Brewing Company supply the perfect liquid accompaniment. (Tim: 087 975 0557).

Cork-based pop-up caterers, The Sharp Knife, bring a Street-to-Table 9-courser (Oct 22) to Tot’s Pub, Ballygurteen, in West Cork with matching wines from the very excellent Curious Wines ( ).

Dublin’s Slice café/restaurant host a raw food evening (Oct 18) with London-based Jenny Creedon’s Wild Flower Supper Club, ( ) while O’Brien’s Wine Douglas host a Bollinger Champagne Dinner (Oct 20) at Les Gourmandises (Tel Nicolas 021 4369596 or email ).

Finally, the revamped Garryvoe Hotel restaurant, Samphire, kicks off a series of themed dinners with Dinner Table (Oct 21)


As The Menu doesn’t possess a microwave and believes cinema popcorn to be nothing more than anemic pebble-dashing, it is sometime since the notion of its consumption even crossed his mind until he encountered Popsy Daisy’s Whiskey Salted Caramel popcorn, made with Teeling’s Whiskey.

Factor in a splendid commitment to locally-sourced, organic food (including replacing sugar and fats with fruit sugars and yoghurts without any discernable taste difference), Fair Trade imports, all driven by an ethos of social responsibility, and this erstwhile sinful treat becomes positively sanctified.

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