How time passes when you’re having fun. And time has certainly passed for the 11-year-old West Waterford Festival of Food 2018 (April 20-22), an event at which The Menu has, in years gone by, put away more fun than a clown school on nitrous oxide. With this year’s theme a celebration of the local ‘farmers’ of land and sea, the community-driven gathering is the usual mix of local and ‘imported’ attractions, discussions, debates, demos’ and, as always, some very top nosebag.
The Waterford Way Tapas Trail offers participants a ‘hero’ dish in a selection of different restaurants while Cliff House Hotel chef Martijn Kajuiter, himself celebrating a decade in situ at his Michelin-starred restaurant in Ardmore with his freshly unveiled spring menu, celebrates his own strong links with local producers with a Chef’s Table Dinner. Secret Suppers sees chefs Eunice Power, Shane McGrath (Cliff House Hotel), Arun Kapil (Green Saffron), and Chris McGowan (Wine & Brine) each cook a secret dinner party for a small group of guests in local homes.
The Tannery hosts Chris McGowan for its legendary Saturday night dinner while Catherine Fulvio and Derry Clarke join Paul Flynn in the kitchen for a ‘lords and ladies’-style Sunday lunch. (westwaterfordfestivaloffood.com)
If irony were a foodstuff then The Menu more than had his fill upon realising, while world-renowned Michelin three-star chef Alain Passard (L’Arpege) was going to be in Belfast to cook alongside his old friends and former protégés, Stephen Toman (chef) and Alain Kerloc’h (sommelier), co-proprietors of OX, one of Ireland’s finest restaurants, The Menu would be in Paris missing two evening dinners (April 22 and 23) celebrating OX’s fifth birthday, with all proceeds going to the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
The Menu will have to make do with pressing his nose up against the cold, darkened glass of L’Arpege and making an online donation but the rest of you would be well advised to seek out tickets for what should be one of the finest dinners served in Ireland this year. (oxbelfast.com)
The eighth annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-off (April 22) takes place in Acton’s Hotel, Kinsale, an increasingly popular fixture on the culinary calendar that sees chefs compete to become Chowder Champion, with the general public acting as judge. It’s all part of a weekend of activities including a Taste of the Wild Atlantic Way street food festival. The winner receives the Derek Davis Perpetual Trophy and represents Ireland at the World Chowder Championships, in Rhode Island, next year. (kinsalerestaurants.com)
The Menu is a great man for taking stock but an even better man for making stock. So much so that human bones are just about the only ones that haven’t wound up at some time or other in his giant pot. Not only does a good stock offer unsurpassable depths of flavour to any dish but it can also supply life-affirming nutritional benefits, none more so than a good bone broth. The Menu well appreciates the time and effort involved in creating a good bone broth may appear prohibitive so suggests the ‘stock-curious’ might first sample Carol’s Stock Market Bone Broth, courtesy of Donegal-based Carol Banahan.
Carol’s range (including beef, chicken, vegetable) is produced using highest quality produce (free range, organic) to yield a fine product. The Menu was taken with the Beef Bone Broth, with the aforementioned quality produce and many hours of cooking time resulting in an umami-rich nectar that enabled him to turn out a healing beef noodle broth for a posse of post-school and extremely hungry progeny in just 15 minutes, their approval manifest in bowls scraped clean through to the table beneath. carolsstockmarket.com
Spirit of the week
Bradleys, Redmonds, Baggot St. Wines, Irish Whiskey Museum, Findlaters Limerick, Selected O’Briens, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin and Killarney.
Earlier this year Glendalough launched a new slimmer bottle for their full range (including their fine wild botanical gin), plus, a new 7-year-old Double Barrel whiskey and this 13 year old single malt finished in (expensive) Japanese Mizunara oak barrels. Mizunara barrels are made from 200-year-old Japanese oak and this is the first Irish whiskey to use it.
Coconut and chocolate aromas along with soft vanilla and lemon peel — richly honeyed on the palate with butterscotch and lingering cacao. One of the most intriguing (and pleasing) Irish whiskies I’ve tasted in the last 12 months.