When students require a part-time job to pay for the Pimms and lager, or whatever it is the youth drink nowadays, foraging wild flowers and herbs for Patrick Guilbaud’s Michelin two-star restaurant will rarely spring to mind.
But that’s precisely what Giles Clark did while studying philosophy at Trinity College. Since graduating, he’s translated his amour for all things epicurean into stints cooking in some of the world’s finest restaurants, including Noma, in Copenhagen; Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, California; River Cottage, in Devon; Chicago’s Alinea; and he now works with the Young Turks in London. Michelle Darmody, Irish Examiner regular and proprietor of The Cake Café, is bringing him back to Dublin to cook a seasonal banquet on June 1 in an old primary school on Pleasant’s Place. With talk of homemade seasonal cocktails, honey and nettle eau de vie, hors d’ouvres followed by multiple courses, some foraged, most organic, and a variety of wines, ‘The Menu’ is already packing his bags for the big smoke, especially as the whole thing comes in at an exceedingly democratic €30 a skull. Booking by credit card: The Cake Café, 01-4789394.
‘The Menu’ is a big fan of the slow food ethos and an equally big fan of a slow-roasted pig on a spit, so hopes to join up with the Cork City Slow Food convivium for their trip to a pig farm on May 27, for a farm walk, a visit to the farm’s allotments and a pig feast. Tickets €30; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How about these for novel takes on risotto: Clare Island organic salmon with dill and lime; dry-aged Irish beef with horseradish? Well, Il Primo chef/proprietor and Irish queen of risotto, Anita Thoma, is devoting May to the classic Italian comforter in her Harcourt St, Dublin, restaurant — and those dishes are just the opening salvo as ‘The Menu’ hastens to place himself in the line of fire.
‘The Menu’ must ‘fess up to an inordinate epicurean love for all things piggy’ but there are some days when only a sausage sandwich will sate the great porcine hunger. But it has to be the finest sausage in the country, a Woodside Farm 90% meat-pork sausage. They may be a small operation’ but Noreen and Martin Conroy run the best commercial free-range rare-breed pig farm in Ireland — just ask Richard Corrigan, who slow-roasted one of their pork bellies for 60 hours at the recent Waterford Food Fest in Dungarvan. Some days, ‘The Menu’ gets that faraway look and only one thing will bring him back: those succulent glistening Woodside pork sausages, steaming meat-bursting forth from the casing, melting butter all over thick-cut white bread, too hot to consume immediately but ‘The Menu’s’ burnt tongue is invariably a martyr to his insatiable haste. (Woodside Farm retail at Mahon Point, Midleton and Douglas farmers’ mkts.)