Always something of a trailblazer, The Franciscan Well brewery continues in this vein by hosting Fem-Ale Fest (August 10-11), Ireland’s very first festival dedicated to celebrating the women of Irish brewing, with over 15 participating breweries and a full programme of speakers, panel discussions and entertainment along with gallons of great beer. Participating breweries include Rising Sons, Metalman Brewing, Two Sisters Brewing, Longueville Cider, West Kerry Brewing and Black’s of Kinsale. Speakers include Melissa Cole, UK-based beer writer and lead partner in dedicated beer tasters, LoveBeer@Borough, Christina Wade, founder of the Ladies Craft Beer Society of Ireland, Edana Hinchey, director of Craft Brew Labs with plenty of opportunity for audience involvement and interaction. Entertainment on the weekend includes the truly wonderful Christina Underwood and She Said while Pompeii Pizza will be dishing out their wonderful creations (www.franciscanwellbrewery.com).
The poor old honey bee has been taking a prolonged global battering for quite some time, the biggest culprit being the ravaging effects of chemical pesticides and, with a State long subservient to the demands of the industrial agri-biz sector despite the honey bee’s estimated €53 million annual contribution to Irish agriculture, it has been most often left to individuals in this country to fight back on behalf of one of nature’s most essential creations. Hive Mind is an initiative from Beekeeper Mark Riordan who has his hives and a wild meadow at the family farm, Myrtleville House, in Myrtleville, Co Cork, where he produces an unfiltered honey. Hive Mind offers individuals and commercial enterprises the chance to sponsor hives in exchange for the honey produced and Cork restaurant Elbow Lane have been one of the early adopters, sponsoring three hives and attempting to use Hive Mind honeys in their dressings, sauces, ice creams and cocktails. This support allows Riordan to build up bee stocks, engage with the beekeeping community and the general public at large, all the while promoting community involvement and sustainability. Anyone wishing to sample Riordan’s honey can complete an online ‘expression of interest’ and will be contacted at the next honey harvest, at summer’s end (www.hivemind.ie).
A Taste of Cavan (August, 10-11) food festival returns with yet another packed programme featuring some fine local produce and a cracking line-up of star chefs including Richard Corrigan, Rachel Allen, Neven Maguire, Gearóid Lynch, Simon Delaney, TV chef Adrian Martin, Pastry maestro Shane Smith, Donegal Table author, chef and hotelier Brian McDermott, while over 120 exhibitors will be displaying their wares, including the very splendid Cavan cheesemakers Corleggy. The Cavan Taste Trail offers an abundance of fine fare and a Kidzone is available for children to work up an appetite (www.tasteofcavan.ie).
Playstival with The Happy Pear (August, 11-12) at Dublin’s Airfield Estate sees the healthy eating gurus participate in a new summer festival celebrating play, fun and imagination with over 600 hands-on games, interactive ‘play universes’ and creative workshops including a kid-sized food market and the food offering includes a BBQ grill, ice cream, homebaked treats and sandwiches with brunch available all day from Airfield’s Overends Kitchen and The Stables Café offering picnic options to enjoy on the estate’s 38 acres (www.playstival.ie).
There may have been something of a return to normal service in the weather department but The Menu remains in a Hawaiian Tropic frame of mind, his eating habits largely centred around summer picnicking and cold buffets and a jar of Wild About’s Hot & Minty Jelly, a bright, fresh apple and mint jelly given a turbo boost, courtesy of cayenne chilli flakes made with Wexford-grown chiles is proving very popular with all and sundry, as a condiment for cold meats, to ratchet up the flavours of a homemade mayonnaise or to add another dimension to a lovely mature cheddar (www.wildabout.ie).
SPIRIT OF THE WEEK
Dingle Whiskey Bar; Bradleys; O’Briens; Selected SuperValu; Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin & Killarney; Wine Centre.
It is so sad that the late Oliver Hughes did not get to taste some of the more mature iterations from the distillery he created in lovely Dingle. It is hard to imagine how the Irish whiskey revival would have turned out if he hadn’t taken the first plunge.
This is Dingle’s third small batch release (13,000 bottles) and was created by marrying bourbon and port casks. There is also a bright spicy limited edition cask strength version (59% ABV) released in 500 bottles for €125. This 46% version has blackberry, vanilla and honey aromas, citrus and tangerine fruits and lovely balance and elegance.
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