The Menu is becoming increasingly persuaded of the merits of fine beer as an occasional substitute for his beloved vimto when dining. He recently washed down some al fresco smoked mackerel with a bottle of the superb White Gypsy’s Dubbel, a crisp, sharp hoppy brew picked up in the wonderful Bradley’s, of North Main St, and from that very emporium picked up two more terrific new local Cork additions to the Irish craft beer world, Mountain Man Pale Ale and the very fine Kinsale Pale Ale. We truly are in a golden age of Irish brewing, but those still in need of some persuasion would do well to get themselves to The Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival, RDS, Dublin (Sept 5-8), featuring an assembly of superb Irish brewers and distillers, showcasing beers, cider and whiskey along with live music and artisan food stalls. Also, Irish Craft Beer Week (from Aug 30) in selected independent pubs and off-licences nationwide. www.irishcraftbeerfestival.com.
It has pained The Menu in recent times to sound the death knell for some fine Irish restaurants, so it is gladdening in the extreme to report one such obituary is to be rendered redundant as the very popular Cava Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Galway which closed earlier in the year will reopen elsewhere in the City of the Tribes as Cava Bodega. Owned by restaurateurs Drigin Gaffey and JP McMahon (Aniar Restaurant, Eat Gastropub), culinary polymath McMahon plans to further explore the shared Irish/Spanish cultural heritage with a particular look at the historical food link, with The Menu particularly excited about the new Pinxtos bar. www.eatgalway.ie
If ever The Menu were called upon to list his heroes, Myrtle Allen would be right up there at the very top, for truly she rises above all when it comes to delineating the history of modern Irish food, so he’ll be fiddling mightily with the rabbit ears next Tuesday (Sept 3) trying to tune in the old goggle box to watch Myrtle Allen: A Life in Food (RTÉ). As the international renown of our exceptional produce grows with each passing year, it behoves the reader to remember it was Allen who bucked all prevailing culinary trends when she began what would become a Michelin-starred restaurant in her living room at Ballymaloe House and birthed the notion of the primacy of fine Irish produce as being utterly essential to the creation of a good dish on any Irish menu.
A regular and deeply committed sinner, The Menu appreciates full well the value of occasional atonement, particularly when sins are of an edible nature. So healthy and beneficial is Dermot Twomey’s Sesame Seaweed Salad, its consumption is the culinary equivalent of having the pope himself rattle out a few novenas for one’s penitential soul, rarely has absolution felt so good: a sweet, nutty crunch, a massive umami hit and the merest hint of salty sea. Why, this could near cause a body to turn his back on sin entirely! www.seaweedsalads.ie