The Menu: The Listowel Food Fair

Food news with Joe McNamee
The Menu: The Listowel Food Fair

Listowel delights

As home to the late, great John B Keane and an august literary festival, Listowel has long adopted the mantle of literary capital of The Kingdom, but is increasingly making a name for itself on the food front, most especially with the upcoming Listowel Food Fair (November 9-12). While Neidín travels under duress, still bristling at Keane’s decision to have his fictional characters from The Field, Bull McCabe and son, kill a donkey and chuck the carcass in a lake, The Menu is keen to put on his own nosebag for a series of local Dining Circle events

including A Novel Supper, as Lizzy’s Little Kitchen devise a menu based on food allusions in Limerick author Roisin Meaney’s novels and an intriguing night of Armenian dishes, at Gapo’s. The child-friendly festival includes workshops for children as well as demos for adults, with actor Simon Delaney putting on the apron. A market fills the town square on Saturday and all proceeds from Allo’s Charity Cook & Wine Book Sale, go to the incredible Doctors without Borders charity. The flagship event is the Food Fair Awards Dinner, a seven-course tasting menu incorporating produce from this year’s winning food producer with gongs also handed out for Food Book of the year, Local Food Hero & Lifetime Achievement Award.

No whining about wine

Grape gluggers will surely flock to the Clayton Hotel, for the Cork Winter Edition (Novemebr 9) of the annual O’Brien’s Wine Festival, featuring over 100 wines and 25 winemakers and a complimentary Tipperary Crystal wine glass and wine guide for attendees ( The Menu offers sincere congratulations to Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, of FoodCloud and FoodCloud Hubs (formerly, the magnificent social enterprise, Bia Food Initiative, which began in Little Island, Cork) who have joined an illustrious group of former winners of the EY Special Achievement Award 2017, past winners spanning the spectrum from Fr Peter McVerry to former EU commissioner Peter Sutherland.

Popping up for drinks

Fleeting mentions for two equally fleeting Dublin-based offerings: 16-61 is a pop-up Poitín Bar (until November 25), located under the Berlin Café serving cocktails and 18 different poitíns while The Shelbourne are putting on a Paddington Bear Children’s Afternoon Tea to tie in with the release of the movie, Paddington 2, The Menu very much shares the ursine Peruvian’s penchant for marmalade, featuring here as an Orange Marmalade & Chocolate Cup.


The Menu is delighted to recommend yet another fine baker to the table, Moray Bresnihan, familiar to many for his sterling contributions to the Cork arts scene and a man, like many fellow artists, drawn to baking bread by the enormously tactile nature of the work. Trading as Bread & Roses, his range features some inspired creations, including Rye, Sesame & Carrot and an equally appealing Polenta & Pepita.

By the time The Menu arrived at the Coal Quay Farmer’s Market, last Saturday morning, the cupboard was pretty bare, as B&R fans are very early risers indeed. He still managed to snaffle three delicious loaves (two for the freezer), Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies and a Buchtein, a jam-filled, sweet yeast roll that went very nicely with a filtered coffee from the newly opened and quite excellent Priory coffee shop around the corner on North Main St.

That evening, The Menu slow-braised (with Wildwood Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar) delicious short ribs procured from English Market butcher Eoin O’Mahony, making good use of the leftovers for next day’s Sunday lunch, cold beef, pickle, lettuce and aioli on Moray’s delicious, dense rye sourdough, the finest sandwich he has put away in many a moon. Good bakers, like their slow-proving doughs, tend to evolve over time but Moray appears to have arrived fully formed and The Menu highly recommends setting the clock for an early Saturday trip into town.

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