West Waterford Food Festival, always one of The Menu’s most favourite events of the annual food calendar, has adapted to Covid conditions by creating Festival Spirit — a series of curated talks, experiences and workshops, virtual and socially distanced.
Prime place in the programme goes to a six-course meal kit experience, Taste of the Festival (April 23, €165 for two, available for delivery nationwide). This is a collaboration between chefs Roisin Horsom (Crews Restaurant), Paul Flynn (The Tannery), Ian Doyle (Cliff House Hotel), and Judit McNally (Ormond’s).
Irish Gourmet Butter provides its signature butter and Eunice Power, her Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout bread, while Two Sisters Restaurant create petit fours, and Eamonn Lonergan of Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese and Susan Denn of Interlude provide the cheese course.
Mixologist, John Coleman (The Old Bank, Dungarvan), creates a special bespoke aperitif cocktail using Blackwater Distillery gin.
When The Menu was first introduced to the term, ‘smash burger’, purportedly a comparatively new concept growing in popularity on the back of the US Smashburger chain’s huge success, he believed he was learning of some entirely new and enlightened method of cooking a burger and the elemental pleasures of a good burger, if done properly, can on its day, satisfy a primal hunger like no Michelin fare will ever manage to do.
But as he listened, he realised that the technique, in which the meat patty is flattened into a flat-top grill to carmelise the exterior and seal in the juices, was no more than a rebranding of a technique generations older than Smashburger, established in 2007, and which he in fact used himself when cooking in a US-themed grill bar in London many decades ago — back then, it was just a plain old ‘burger’.
Nonetheless, when done properly, it makes for a very tasty burger indeed and The Menu will be putting on his boot skates and zipping down to Clonakilty to taste the offering from 8020 — a new LA-style click&collect burger van, using their own 80:20 blend (hence the name) of Allshire’s superb local beef, from Rosscarbery.
And, by all accounts, they are doing a very fine job of rendering it as a delicious burger eating experience. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 4pm to 8pm, in the Scally’s Supervalu car park.
Speaking of burgers, Ballymaloe Relish have teamed up with chicken and burger specialists, Coqbull restaurant, operating outlets in Cork and Limerick to put together a limited edition combo, a rotisserie pulled chicken and beef burger topped with Ballymaloe Fiery Relish, Dubliner Cheddar Cheese, crispy tobacco onions, mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion, which all makes for a rather mighty mouthful.
Order from Coqbull at the door, by phone, or click-and-collect.
Finally, on the burger trail, following the West Limerick Food Series, The Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, County Limerick has created a West Limerick Spring Lamb Burger kit made from finest meat sourced by butcher Brian Costello and with Menu favourite, Rigney’s Farm rashers and wild garlic aioli as toppings. Click-and-collect.
SECAD (South East Cork Area Development) has launched a free Sustainability Training Programme for food businesses in South and West Cork, offering practical training to small, medium and specialty food producers covering areas such as sustainable sourcing and supply chain practices, packaging, energy, water and waste, consumer education, carbon emissions, renewable energy and climate change.
Employing an expert panel of trainers, the courses will help deliver on Irish commitment to the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals, which must surely be at the heart of all commercial operations in the future, not just food and hospitality if we are to have any hope at all of leaving our children with a planet in better shape than we found it.
Food and hospitality, however, offer huge scope for improving current practices to make a serious difference, most especially in the area of food waste, which will be an integral part of the training programme.
The Menu is a great admirer of his culinary comrade, the indefatigable Ellie Kisyombe, End Direct Food Provision Activist, and founder of award-winning non-profit social enterprise Our Table, Ellie Kisyombe.
Ellie’s latest venture, Ellie's Kitchen Home Edition, is a range of signature sauces available online and in select food stores, including pasta sauces ((Roast Vegetable, Chicken flavoured, Beef & Mushroom) which received the ‘smear of approval’ from La Daughter Menu (a splendidly messy eater when enthused by a dish) while The Menu and No 2 Son, took to the lab with the ‘hot’ condiments, Extra Hot Chilli Sauce, Smoky Lemon Hot Sauce and Mild Lemon Herb Hot Sauce.
All three proved most efficacious, enhancing an array of dishes, from simple scrambled eggs to slow-cooked stews and casseroles but it was the Smoky Lemon Hot Sauce which most took their fancy — a winning combination of citric zing and booming smoky depth with plenty of chilli bang for one’s buck, absolutely splendid on freshly grilled fish served with rice and beans.
Ellie also set up Our Table with food writer Michelle Darmody, a regular elsewhere on these pages, to build awareness of the tribulations of Direct Provision and ultimately hasten its end, so Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition will donate a percentage of profits to OT to help sustain its work.