The Menu: All the latest food news from around the world

Food news with Joe McNamee.

The Menu: All the latest food news from around the world

Food news with Joe McNamee.

Mmm for mum

With Mother’s Day (March 31) fast approaching, the phones will no doubt be hopping in every restaurant the length and breadth of the land as dutiful offspring endeavour to repay their debt with a good feeding followed by the traditional administration of flowers and chocolates.

The Menu takes note of several attractive offers including a special five-course tasting menu at Greene’s Restaurant, in Cork, including a post-prandial gift from the Lismore Food Company at €45pp from 12.30pm to 2.15pm while an overnight package includes B&B accommodation in adjoining Hotel Isaacs along with lunch for €259pps. (

The Cliff Townhouse, on St Stephen’s Green offers a three-courser at €55pp along with a €15 voucher for a spa treatment at sibling establishment Cliff at Lyons, a handmade lavender pouch and an opportunity to win a Champagne Afternoon Seafood experience for four people. (

Meanwhile, a stone’s throw away in The Shelbourne’s Saddle Room, there’s a three courser on hand for €45pp (

But for those really wanting to push the boat out, The Menu highly recommends checking out Carmel Somers, formerly of the late, lamented, Good Things Cafe, now offering private cheffing experiences in the comfort of one’s own home or some very Mother-centric cooking course including The Gut Class (in tandem with nutritionist Majella O’Neill) covering cooking for optimal gut health, while Of A Certain Age, is for older people and includes guest experts providing advice on nutrition, acupuncture and skincare. Somers also offers certain courses in private homes. (

Local hero

One of The Menu’s most favoured annual traditions, repairing en famille to L’Atitude 51 post-St Patrick’s Parade, had to be put on ice after the very shocking news of a fire that broke out in the upper floors of the premises that very morning. Thankfully the fire brigade, stationed just across the road, arrived in double-jig time to prevent an even worse conflagration and The Menu and many, many other fans, supporters and customers of one of Ireland’s very finest wine cafes trusts Beverley Matthews and her team will be back and open for business as soon as possible.

The next in a season of very splendid collaborations at multi-award-winning Pot Duggan’s, in Ennistymon, Co Clare, Sunday Sessions, sees top chef Enda McEvoy (Loam, Galway) fetch up to cook a one-off dinner featuring finest local produce in their beautifully restored 19th-century barns. (

Today’s special

In The Menu’s kitchen, the general rule is, if you want mayonnaise, you have to make it from scratch as those jars to be found on the supermarket shelves always contain far more than the three principle ingredients required —oil, egg yolk and acidity, be that vinegar or lemon juice —invariably adding creations from the murkier end of industrial food manufacturing.

Now, The Menu equally acknowledges that unless you prepare it in advance, it can be a royal pain to have to whisk up a fresh batch every time you fancy a quick sandwich so very much welcomes the arrival of Ballymaloe Mayo, a creamy full-bodied emulsion (thanks to the addition of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to sunflower oil) with a real ‘eggy’ taste and a gentle tang of white wine vinegar.

Yes, there are additions to the ‘holy trinity’ of oil, egg and vinegar but they are all natural and as flavour enhancers, sea salt, whole grain mustard, grape must and cracked black pepper and while it will never take the place of the real home-made deal, it is a very fine substitute in a pinch.

Beer of the week

Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin, 40% ABV, 70cl - €39.00

Stockist: SuperValu

The huge explosion of new gins is showing absolutely no sign of easing off at anytime soon.

Normally, I would just ignore celebrity drinks but BBC chat show host Graham Norton being from Bandon (and seeming to put a bit more effort in) makes this one a special case.

It also helps that this is made by West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen from their own grain distillate.

The 12 botanicals include the usual suspects.

There are Juniper, Orris and Angelica along with Basil and Liquorice, plus distinctly West Cork hedgerow specialities — including fuchsia flowers and rosehips.

The floral notes hit the nose first and are then followed by juniper, anise and liquorice, smooth and creamy on the palate with a touch of sweetness.

Refreshing and crisp with a spicy kick on the finish.

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