Festival season

The Menu would scarcely have thunk it a few short years ago but Irish festival season, most definitely upon us, is coming to be dominated by food-related events, a cause for rejoicing.

Sheridan’s Cheesemongers’ 3rd Irish Food Festival 2012, a mere stripling but already one of the country’s standout food events, takes place at their Virginia Road Station HQ, Co Meath, with gourmands travelling from the four corners of Ireland. A massive array of our top producers, plus some superb workshops, including Bridgestone Chef of the Year (from Aniar Restaurant, Galway) Enda McEvoy’s culinary tour of the hedgerows and smoker supreme Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery in West Cork on Irish fish, and Kevin Sheridan tasting Irish Raw Milk Cheese. With free children’s entertainment, live music, traditional fair games and a dizzying array of eating options, the e5 family entry fee, including parking, seems ridiculously cheap. www.sheridanscheesemongers.com

* Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, run in conjunction with Baltimore Seafood Weekend, May 25-27, in the heart of epicurean West Cork, offers multiple options for maritime mastication: restaurants, bars and a pier-side food fair. www.baltimorewoodenboatfestival.com/

* Wexford Food and Wine Festival, May 24-27, in Wexford town, has a sterling programme with The Menu especially taken with the opportunity to sample food as it was cooked in 500BC. www.wexfordfoodfestival.ie/

Ireland’s top carvery

The Menu has betimes shuddered at the threat of a carvery lunch, so is delighted at a competition promoting high standards, the Great Carvery of the Year competition, a nationwide search for Ireland’s best pub carvery and best hotel carvery. Overall winners receive e5,000 worth of PR/marketing each. Registration deadline is Jul 13 with the Grand Final in September. www.unileverfoodsolutions.ie/greatcarvery.

Bird food?

Still time to nip down to Longueville House to listen to native birds with ornithologist Michael Cobley, followed by some lovely food. The Dusk Chorus walk takes place this evening at 7pm, followed by supper while The Dawn Chorus walk is tomorrow Sunday, at 4am, followed by country house breakfast. e55 (children e20-25) per event, or e100 for both. www.longuevillehouse.ie/events

Today’s special

On any given day, The Menu would be hard-pressed to single out one item from the cornucopia of fungal foodstuffs purveyed by Ballyhoura Mushrooms: oysters, sleek as seals; nutty brown shiitakes; the chef’s latest secret weapon, porcini dust. But a staple in The Menu’s larder is their Marinated Oyster Mushrooms — silken mushrooms in cider vinegar and olive oil with fresh herbs providing sumptously deep umami flavours with a tart finish. And all that lovely oil to soak up with a simple salad and some toasted sourdough — a mycophagist’s (mushroomheads!) Michelin star dinner.

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