The arrival of spring proper for The Menu is always heralded by the first stirrings from the wondrous West Waterford Festival of Food (Apr 11-14). Centred in and around the delightful town of Dungarvan, it is one of The Menu’s favourite events in the whole culinary calendar, and he is already salivating profusely over another stellar line-up, including Ross Lewis, Martijn Kajuiter, Rachel Allen, Richard Corrigan, Mickael Viljanen, Garrett Byrne and Martin Shanahan. But this year, The Menu has his eyes firmly fixed on one special event, a recreation of annual NYC food festival FergusStock, to be hosted by Paul and Máire Flynn, in The Tannery Restaurant. There are chefs out there with staggeringly high profiles thanks to the trojan work they put into boosting those staggeringly high profiles even, sometimes, God bless them, at the expense of actual cooking.
Fergus Henderson, on the other hand, appears to believe the cooking part to be more important, but while he may not be a household name, his influence pervades households all around the world. Indeed, it is hard to think of a currently more influential chef than the ‘Father of Offal’, revered by many of the world’s best chefs, author of the magnificent Nose to Tail Eating, and owner of St John restaurant, in London. He is joined on the night by his wife, partner and fellow cookbook author, Margot, another fine chef and co-proprietor of London’s Rochelle Canteen. Quite the coup for the festival, this is beyond mere pleasure for The Menu — we’re talking pilgrimage! www.westwaterfordfestivaloffood.com
There’s a complimentary glass of fizz at The Cliff Townhouse, Dublin, for all female diners in the restaurant to celebrate International Women’s Day (Mar 8) with further bubbly, makeovers and seafood and dessert platters available in a Mother’s Day package (Mar 10). www.theclifftownhouse.com. Mind you, The Menu having weighed up the benefits of undergoing an admittedly rather drastic operation to qualify for Friday’s free bubbly may well opt instead for a gourmet evening (Mar 8) at The Restaurant@Donnybrook Fair, featuring a truffle-infused six courser and some truly, truly stunning Rhone wines. (www.donnybrookfair.ie)
Should you choose to make an unofficial bank holiday out of it, The Menu would highly recommend checking out the Cookbook Club, this month (Mar 11) featuring Paul Flynn and the wonderful recipes from his Surf n Turf cookbook. www.thecookbookclub.com
Making labneh (strained yoghurt, yielding a thick, creamy spread that knocks the socks off most ‘cream cheeses’) may not be the most arduous of domestic culinary challenges but few things are finer on a plain oat biscuit with good jam — and that’s just for starters. Mind you, McCarthy’s Natural Dairy produce a very superior labneh, along with good yoghurt and smoothies all down to their own full cream milk. Straight from a bottle with cream at the top (unhomogenised!), a most nostalgic Menu has now made it the milk of choice for the rearing of his own herd of young humans. www.mccarthysnaturaldairy.com