The menu: Dingle pie will be highlight of food trail

Currently basking in the glory of the recently-awarded accolade, ‘No 1 Food Town in Ireland’, this year’s incarnation of the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival (Oct 3-5) looks set to surpass previous triumphs with a humdinger of a programme of events.

The menu: Dingle pie will be highlight of food trail

Though The Menu is personally glad not to have to compete in the inaugural Dingle Culinary Pentathlon, with culinary students from around the country racing through town, on foot or wheel, a pair of each, collecting mystery ingredients en route for a two-course lunch cook-off. The Taste Trail will be in situ in over 80 venues about the town while The Menu is especially keen to sample the indefatigable Derry Clarke’s especially created Dingle Pie, with the Michelin-starred chef raising funds for charity on the Taste Trail at Liam O’Neill’s Art Gallery. There will be demos, workshops and book signings, mixing local and national stars, including Martin Bealin (Global Village) and current RAI best chef Nevin Maguire. The Menu will be checking out the mighty craft beer and cider event and is considering dragging a brace of progeny in his wake, the weekend being choc-a-bloc with free entertainment for all the family, including falconry, puppet shows, honey, chocolate and bee keeping demos and culinary tales in the park. The festival also plays host to the 7th annual Blas na hÉireann Awards, winners to be announced on Saturday.

Young chef of the year competition

Eurotoques, Ireland chefs’ organisation are once again conducting their annual search for the nation’s finest with their Young Chef of the Year 2014, open to chefs aged 18-26. The overall winner will get an all-expenses-paid stage at world renowned restaurant, this year, the two-Michelin-starred Square, in London. This year’s theme is “No Chef is an Island’, with entrants asked to devise a recipe based on their interpretation of same. Entry closing date is Sept 30.

A perfect autumnal evening

A Harvest Wine Dinner, featuring wines from James Nicholson, and taking place in the exquisite Mustard Seed, in Co Limerick is The Menu’s idea of the perfect welcome for the autumnal nights ahead.

Organic produce fresh from the farm

Returning from glorious Kinsale, last weekend, where The Menu hosted a most enjoyable breakfast event with Seb Emina, author of the estimable Breakfast Bible, in the very lovely Black Pig Wine Bar, the realisation dawned that he was too late to conduct his usual Saturday morning shop at Douglas Farmer’s Market, so took a detour at Belgooly, heading for Gort na Nain Farm, on nine acres in Nohoval and home to The Menu’s old friends, Ultan Walsh and Lucy Stewart, and their wonderful vegetarian B&B. Walsh is one of the finest and most progressive growers in the land and anyone can purchase from the stall at the farm’s entrance. Eggs, carrots, spinach, kale, cucumbers, chillies, garlic, peppers, all superb, as well as Irish-grown aubergines.

Beef dripping makes a wonderful comeback

While The Menu never really heeded ‘expert’ opinion that long deemed saturated animal fats to be some class of death-dealing devil food, he is pleased to note the revision in medical thinking and is very much enjoying James Whelan’s new Beef Dripping, a dinger for the roast spud.

Beer of the week

Galway Hooker Pale Ale, 4.5% ABV, 500ml; €3.29-€3.49

Stockists:Widely available at O’Donovans; Bradleys; McGoverns, Ballyvolane; 1601, Kinsale; McCambridges, Galway; Macs, Limerick.

Galway Hooker was founded in 2006 just months after the introduction of the tax rebate for microbreweries, and is considered the first of the second wave of Craft brewing (we are now in the third wave according to the recently published guide to craft beer Sláinte).

Galway Hooker Stout is the second beer in their core range and has rich dark caramel and chocolate aromas, a very smooth palate and considerably more hop character than most stouts. The hops provide a welcome dry finish after the silky soft palate, a very well crafted beer.

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