The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

The Menu has long been a fan of the work of Dr Colin Sage of the School of the Human Environment, in UCC, and also Founder/Chair of the Cork Food Policy Council.

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee


The Menu has long been a fan of the work of Dr Colin Sage of the School of the Human Environment, in UCC, and also Founder/Chair of the Cork Food Policy Council, so fancies a summer school, Restoring Food to the Heart of the Community (June 29-July1), will prove to be both thoroughly enjoyable and deeply informative and it includes tours of the English Market, Elizabeth Fort, St. Stephen’s Sustainable Food Lab, Knocknaheeny Community Garden and Nano Nagle Place, including an evening meal at the very excellent Good Day Deli. (

The sumptuously appointed Cask cocktail bar, on MacCurtain St, in what is now being styled as Cork’s ‘Victorian Quarter’, hosts a number of guest ‘pop-ups’ this summer, and the next one up sees renowned London cocktail outfit Callooh Callay take over the shakers for the night (June 27) (

Cask hosts a series of guest ‘pop ups’ this summer.
Cask hosts a series of guest ‘pop ups’ this summer.

Mescan Brewery, in Westport, Co Mayo, produce some of Ireland’s very finest craft beers (specialising in Belgian style) so their summer programme of brewery tours are well nigh essential for any serious sippers heading West with all dates on the website.


One of Ireland’s oldest and most progressive growing spaces, Hydro Farm Allotments, host an Open Day for Alana (June 30) as a fundraiser for little Alana Reid-Sochan who suffers from a rare and greatly debilitating skin condition, epidermolysis bullosa (butterfly skin).

Along with live music, pizza, BBQ and growers’ stalls, Menu hero Caroline Robinson will give a chemical-free gardening masterclass while Catherine Bourne will give a kimchi and wine making demo (


Westport Food Festival (June 29-July 1) offers a hectic programme of events in one of Ireland’s most beautiful locations including the gala Mid-Summer Banquet, a black tie affair in glorious Westport House, the Fairgreen Food Village with chef demos, children’s workshops (Pizza Making, Cup Cake Decorating) and a fun Fast Food Race, foraging trips (mushrooms; seashore) and local producer’s tours (


The Menu is at times truly mystified by the inner and utterly opaque workings of this State, where one arm works to directly contradict and even negate the efforts of another, the latest being the very sudden go-ahead given to the siting of an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, a profound reversal of tack despite huge opposition from the local population and national and local government policy.

What alarms The Menu most of all is the impact on food and livestock grown in the region which will be hugely vulnerable to dioxin emissions. On the one hand we have Bord Bia busting a gut to promote Ireland, The Food Island around the world, selling a message about the purity of produce, so successfully, in fact, that the food sector was, along with tourism, one of only two native industries to make a positive contribution to our net GDP during the recession. To find out more and contribute to a High Court review, see


The Menu has long been a fan of Zita Dennehy and her Wild Atlantic Way products and recently conducted a spot of ‘foraging and fishing’ at the farmer’s markets.

Foraging at Zita’s stall (Mahon Market) yielded some lovely fresh sea spaghetti (himanthalia elongata), a nutty seaweed with a rather more reserved marine umami than is to be found in other sea plants (‘weed’ seems such a senseless word for these superfoods from the sea) which he paired with just-picked sea purslane, the salty-sweet leaves eventually finishing on the palate with delightful and quite pronounced bright green apple flavours. Warming them in the pan, along with some butter, capers, lemon juice and fennel resulted in a gorgeous ‘sea salad’, especially divine with some simple pan-fried fillets of plaice from fisherman Stephen Joyce (Douglas Market).

Beer of the week

West Kerry Brewery Carraig Dhubh Porter, 6% ABV; 500ml — €4.49

Stockists: Bradleys; Castle Tralee; Baggot Street Wines; Redmonds Ranelagh; and good Independent off licences especially in west Kerry.

Indie Beer week started yesterday and runs until July 1 so take a look at for open days and tastings in local breweries. I’ll be at the West Kerry Brewery in Ballyferriter near Dingle tonight for its 10th anniversary celebrations — probably drinking cask conditioned Uncle Columb’s Dark Mild – a 3.5% porter dispensed via a hand pump (still a rare thing in Ireland).

If you can’t make it try this — rich mocha and roasted malt aromas, full bodied and complex with a pleasing smoky kick on the finish and a properly dry stout crisp finish.

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