The Menu retains an especial grá for the West Waterford Festival of Food (April 10-13) — after all, the inaugural opening lines of the very first edition of this column some years hence were a paean to the joys of culinary cavorting in delightful Dungarvan in springtime, a town so beloved of The Menu, the bells and whistles of some of the bigger events around the country are rendered redundant. Alongside this year’s demo tribute to Myrtle Allen, featuring Micheal Quinn, Rachel Allen and Eunice Power, The Menu is looking forward to: a collaborative meal by the splendid Louise Clarke’s Nude and the very wonderful Highbank Orchard’s organic apples and associated produce; Galway’s Aniar posse fetching up to recreate their micro-local magic in the South-East; chomping and chuckling at the Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Comedy Grub Club Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, with Joe Rooney and Danny Dowling tickling funny bones while the audience sup on DBC’s fine ales and nibble on hot snacks. The Travelling Cookery School at The Tannery Cookery School features the ever-splendid Carmel Somers of Good Things Café in Durrus and Lynda Booth of the Dublin Cookery School. Chockfull of child-friendly events, The Menu’s weekend inevitably culminates in the great jamboree on the town square that is the open-air food market. www.westwaterfordfestivaloffood.com
The All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off is the culmination of a festival, family- and food-friendly, in Kinsale (April 12/13) when 32 chefs compete for the title of All-Ireland Chowder Champion with the public sitting in judgement (www.facebook.com/Good.Food.Circle). The Menu will have more details in coming weeks but anyone with the merest hint of direct line from their belly to their brain should know booking is open for the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium (June 3/4), DIT (www.arrow.dit.ie/dgs/). The Tralee IT Culinary Arts Dept Food4Thought (April 9) is arriving sooner, a showcase open to professionals and public featuring workshops and demos — Martin Menher (House of Tea), Alain Bras (Wine), Declan Ryan (Arbutus Bread), the legendary John Desmond (Heir Island) and Martin Bealin (The Global Village) (www.ittralee.ie/en/ food4thought). Chef Glenna Casey does a fundraiser demo (April 11) for Our Lady Of Lourdes NS, Ballinlough, in Cork Constitution Rugby Club and Catherine Fulvio does a Weekend Chef demo at Thomond Park (April 11) in aid of the Clare’s Wish Foundation (www.clareswishfoundation.com).
A fresh, well-made bagel is always a treat and The Menu took great delight in sampling Galway Bay Bakery’s quirky range, newly arrived to Mahon Point Farmer’s Market. Achieving a delicate balance in injecting an ethereal lightness of being into those dense and wholesome bready hoops, The Menu enjoyed his Jalapeno Bagel toasted with a smear of Orchard Dairy Goat’s Cheese and some peppery mixed salad leaves from Greenfield Farm. www.galwaybaybakery.ie
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Brown Paper Bag Project Oxman Ale 5.8%, 33cl — €3.19-3.49
Bradleys, No. 21 Midleton, Matsons Bandon & Grange, Baggot St Wines, Deveneys Dundrum, Hollands Bray.
The Brown Paper Bag Project is from the team at the excellent L. Mulligan Grocer pub in Stoneybatter in Dublin. They use a range of brewers for their beers, including Eight Degrees in Mitchelstown.
Rich brown colour, solid foam head, aromas of nuts, chocolate and spice. Warm and rich on the palate with cacao, spice and almond flavours and a dry finish. Supremely satisfying and strongly recommended. — Leslie Williams