The Menu: Clonakilty Walking Tour returns as one of West Cork’s flagship food tourism events

The latest food news with Joe McNamee.
The Menu: Clonakilty Walking Tour returns as one of West Cork’s flagship food tourism events

Walk this way

There’s nothing like a brisk stroll to work off a few pounds but The Menu is equally partial to the class of stroll whereby you refuel on the hoof, as well as feeding the mind, and two of West Cork’s prettiest towns are now offering guided food tours. Kinsale Food Tours is a new arrival, conducted by experienced guide Suzanne Burns, visiting four eateries for light tastings followed by a more substantial main course and dessert at the end, all the while meeting local producers and learning about Kinsale’s food culture and history. Suzanne also offers food and foraging tours, ideal for private or corporate groups, including visits to pubs and restaurants. (Tours can cater for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free walkers)(

The Clonakilty Walking Tour returns once more for a third season having grown to become one of West Cork’s flagship food tourism events, approved by Fáilte Ireland and listed on the Wild Atlantic Way website. Guided by founder Kate Ryan and taking in butchers, bakers and bean-to-bar chocolate makers via cheese, ice-cream, craft beer producers and Clonakilty Farmers’ Market, it is an excellent overview of the rich local food culture. (

Champagne picnics

Muckross Park Hotel & Spa are putting their stunning location alongside Killarney National Park to good use with a number of ‘summer experience’ packages, ideally suited to swains up to a spot of the old wooing. The Gap of Dunloe package sees loved-up couple chauffeured from hotel to the Kate Kearney’s Cottage from whence they will be taken by jaunting car through the Gap and the Black Valley to Lord Brandon’s cottage where their personal butler will serve up a gourmet champagne picnic as they drink in exquisite scenery, followed by a post-prandial boat trip through the three lakes before being finally chauffeured back to the hotel. (

Afternoon tea

Back when The Menu had youth on his side and was putting down 12-plus hours in the kitchen, five or six days a week, a routine that kept him hale and hearty under such duress was his daily visits to the old Jury’s Hotel, on Lancaster Quay, for swim, sauna and coffee before work. The old hotel has long since been replaced by a sleek and splendid new riverside establishment but the prospect of afternoon tea with a heavy emphasis on local produce, including Cork Spiced Beef and Barry’s Tea Cake while watching the Lee flow is, to The Menu’s mind, an equally beneficial class of ‘fitness regime’, most healing for the soul (

Sweet treats

School may be over for the summer but The Menu had to hastily retrieve already packed-away lunchboxes for the progeny are now off to various summer camps and requiring sustenance in the middle of the day. Fruit of choice has been exquisite cherry tomatoes from one of his favourite new local growers, Stephen Sinnott, of Food for Humans, in Ballygarvan, just outside Cork city. Producing a wide range of exquisite and flavoursome vegetables and fruit using organic chemical-free growing methods, the Menu is thrilled to be able to so readily access the produce of yet another splendid local grower. These little flavour bombs taste as tomatoes should, a refreshing mouthful of summer sweetness.

Beer of the Week

Costello’s Red Ale, 3.8% ABV; 500ml — €3.65

Stockists: O’Briens Off-Licences, Ardkeen Stores, World Wide Wines, Wine Centre Kilkenny

There is still time to experience the third annual Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival which runs until Sunday, July 8.

There is a craft beer trail and lots of opportunities to taste a range of micro brews. Breweries involved include Hope, Rascals, O’Brother Brewing, Trouble Brewing, Stone Barrel and of course Costello’s.

Costello’s Red Ale has long been a favourite of mine — rich malty aromas and flavours and good use of bittering hops to give freshness. This is also a pleasing 3.8% ABV so makes a fine session beer.

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