The menu: Mighty mussels

The Connemara Mussel Festival (May 1-3) picked up one hell of an accolade last year.

The menu: Mighty mussels

Winning the McKennas’ Guides Food Festival of 2014, and this year the little community festival punches once again above its weight with a packed programme including an Amateur Chef Competition for the best mussel recipe; Chef Martin O’Donnell and Sally McKenna on ‘Sea Seaweed and All Things Green’; Renvyle House Hotel Chef Tim O’Sullivan’s ‘Sunday Seafood Secrets’; and chef JP McMahon on ‘Contemporary Irish Cuisine’; along with the usual random grab-bag of entertainment including archaeological trips, dancing and literary events ( www.connemaramusselfestival.com )

There’s also a whole heap of things going on at the Roscommon Lamb Festival (April 29-May 4) including a Brazilian Lamb BBQ and an Irish-Maltese Lamb Dinner ( www.roscommonlambfestival.com ) and if you’ve still got the stamina, the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival (April 23-26) is in full swing this weekend, in Howth, offering all manner of magnificent means of digesting splendid Irish seafood with myriad ancillary entertainment, historical, and cultural options to boot, www.dublinbayprawnfestival.ie

VENUE VINO VICI

When The Menu passes on from this world and goes to whatever Valhalla of Victuals will accept his weary soul, he certainly wouldn’t be too disappointed were it to resemble A Celebration of Cheese & Wine at Restaurant FortyOne (April 28),

combining, as it does, so many of his favourite things, beginning with the venue, then the wonderful vino selected by sommelier supreme Victor Nedelea and superb Irish cheese and a three-courser from one of The Menu’s favourite chefs, Graham Neville ( www.restaurantfortyone.ie ). One of the most exciting new additions to the Irish food scene, Real Bread Ireland,

continues the evangelising roadshow with a visit to the Cook’s Academy (April 27) for an event including recipes, tips and a whole lot of bread featuring: Thibault (Tibo) Peigne, Tartine; William Despard, Bretzel; and Eoin Cluskey, Firehouse Bakery ( www.cooksacademy.com ).

TASTY TELLY

RTÉ are once again seeking budding food developers for the Taste of Success TV programme to compete for a prize worth €100,000 by trying to bring their food product to the supermarket shelves. Regional mentors are Martin Shanahan, Domini Kemp, Catherine Fulvio and JP McMahon ( www.rte.ie/thetasteofsuccess ).

The award-winning cocktail mixologists at the Cornstore, Cork, have unleashed their new cocktail menu where you’ll probably find the crew from sister-restaurant, Coqbull, toasting their recent RAI award success as Best Newcomer in Munster with Greene’s talented Brian McCarthy picking up Best Cork Chef, the Bayview Hotel in Ballycotton deservedly winning Best Hotel Restaurant, the wonderful Sage, Midleton, Best Emerging Irish Cuisine, Fenn’s Quay, Best Cork Restaurant.

TODAY’S SPECIAL

Now tis well known to one and all that The Menu is pathologically partial to good bread and a sublime rye loaf from the superb Seagull Artisan Micro-Bakery in Tramore has The Menu utterly besotted with this sublime paradox—dense as a brick yet light and spry in the eating, further elevated by the addition of pumpkin and coriander seeds.

www.seagullbakery.ie

BEER OF THE WEEK

Pokertree Red Earl Ruby Ale, 5.5% ABV; 330ml — €3.55-€3.79

Stockists: No 21 Cork, Bradleys, Matsons, O’Donovans, Castle Tralee, Next Door Raheen, DrinkStore, Baggot Street Wines

Pokertree are based in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, and named after a local tree where you might find the devil promising you your heart’s desire if you can beat him at poker; lose, and he’ll take your soul. This fine bottle-conditioned red ale is named in honour of Earl of Tyrone Red Hugh O’Neill.

This pours a cloudy dark copper colour, has rich malted aromas with spice and caramel and a malt-driven, fruity, earthy palate with good bittering from traditional hops — Fuggles and Northern Brewer. Best served at 10 to 12C.

Leslie Williams

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