Celebrity chefs include Derry Clarke, Rachel Allen and Martin Shanahan and new arrivals to the festival include Dani Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin-starred chef, and Takashi Miyazaki, currently the McKennas’ Guide Chef of the Year 2016.
The Menu himself will also be strapping the pots, pans and kitchen sink across the back of the near-buckling Neidín, as he sets off to add his own culinary contributions, but the extensive programme also includes plenty of intellectual food for thought and other daylight activities, including foraging walks, seminars, discussions, masterclasses and garden visits, all to be enjoyed before sticking on the nosebag each evening.
As it becomes more widely available, sourdough is growing increasingly popular with bread consumers around the country, not only for its superior taste and texture but also for the nutritional bio-availability that, unlike industrial bread with its myriad additives, comes from a bread that has been properly fermented over a prolonged period with nothing added save flour, water, and possibly a pinch of salt.
However, this popularity also encourages the less scrupulous to view it as nothing more than a licence to print money and a number of sourdoughs (dubbed “pseudoughs” by bread guru Andrew Whitley) currently available on the market, particularly from larger commercial concerns, are nothing more than cheap rip-offs with none of the attendant benefits so The Menu strongly advocates purchasing from members of Real Bread Ireland (RBI).
Better still, try baking your own sourdough, surprisingly straightforward after a few attempts, and the latest RBI initiative, Sourdough September, makes it easier still by offering potential bakers the opportunity to pick up starter dough (the rising agent in sourdoughs) from their nearest RBI member (list on www.realbreadireland.org/sourdoughseptember) and there are also two excellent — and non-labour intensive — recipes from RBI members: the Common Loaf, from Riot Rye’s Joe Fitzmaurice; and Real Bread Rising, from Firehouse Bakery’s Patrick Ryan.
The Sheridan’s Homegrown Harvest Market (September 3) may be tiny in comparison to other initiatives from the cheesemonger brothers but the idea is potentially far wider-ranging.
Very simply, Sheridans provide tables and location and the punters supply the produce, the only stipulation being that it is either homegrown or home-produced ( www.sheridanscheesemongers.com ).
The Menu reminds all that the closing date for the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Social Responsibility award is fast approaching (August 31) should readers know of any worthy food-related organisation or individual worth nominating ( www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie ).
An ambitious food tour from East to West (September 3) kicks off with a guided tapas trail in Dublin before bussing to Galway for a Connemara Pub Tour and on to Galway City. The next day takes in the Galway Food Tour before returning to Dublin once more.
The Menu’s Belly also moonlights as a quasi-travel agent, with all manner of fabulous foreign foodstuffs inspiring further notions of visiting original sources and one such putative destination is Ethiopia.
Nearly two decades ago, in the US — where Ethiopian food culture is surprisingly vigorous — he first fell deeply in love with this elemental, ancient cuisine and its deceptively simple tastes, all shared from a single communal plate.
Emye Vegetarian Food’s chef/proprietor Fitsum ‘Fizzy’ Teklegiorgis serves up delicious examples of her native cuisine from her market stall and her Shiro, a gloopy ‘dip’ made from chickpeas, is a splendidly earthy rendition of a classic dish The Menu could devour by day or night, and quite possibly, even while sleeping.