The menu: Kinsale Gourmet Festival

The Kinsale Gourmet Festival (October 7 to 9) hits 40 this year and the promised shindig should be a mighty and deservedly celebratory affair indeed for this historical little port and fishing town spent many years to the very forefront of Irish food and in recent times has been doing much to regain its masticatory mojo.

The menu: Kinsale Gourmet Festival

Hosted by the ten member restaurants of the Kinsale Good Food Circle, it kicks off with a champagne reception and a Taste of West Cork black tie dinner in Acton’s.

The bacchanalian boisterousness of the fancy dress Mad Hatter’s Taste of Kinsale, a day-long tour of Kinsale, sipping and sampling for the entirety of the day, is not for the faint-hearted, but like climbing Everest or sailing the Atlantic singlehanded, is the class of epicurean endeavor that should be on every right-thinking Gael’s adventure sports bucket list.

Festivities conclude with a celebration of the produce that first made Kinsale’s culinary reputation with a Fruits de Mer Spectacular luncheon featuring all manner of marine magnificence on the plate.


The Menu has been meaning to make mention of a fascinating tome that landed on his bureau some months back, Food and Drink in Ireland (Royal Irish Academy), edited by Elizabeth Fitzpatrick and James Kelly, a collection of essays examining the consumption of food from Mesolithic times to the present.

These are serious academic studies, trailing footnotes near enough on every page, archaeological and historical evaluations of our food culture down through the ages. The Menu indulged himself academically in this sphere during a recent return to academia and was amazed to discover the scope and complexity of the traditional diet. Susan Lyons’ Food Plants,

Fruits and Foreign Foodstuffs is one such essay to give examples of just how far-ranging that diet was, switching effortlessly between cultivated and foraged foodstuffs


The Menu is of course kicking up his heels in Dingle this weekend but for those unable to make it, perhaps an alternative weekend trip to this wonderful destination would be in order, and for those hell bent on self-improvement in the kitchen, a most wonderful aspiration, a class in the Dingle Cookery School comes highly recommended.

Upcoming classes include Winter Fermentation, Traditional Irish Cooking and a Two-Day Butchery & Curing Course with Gubbeen’s Fingal Ferguson

The Coeliac Society of Ireland and Supervalu are hosting a series of in-store events offering gluten-free samples and advice from the Coeliac Society on treatment and what to look for on produce labels


It was the name that first caught The Menu’s attention, America Village Apothecary, which turned out to be a reference to Baile Mheiriceá, a historical townland, in Connemara, but it was Claire Davey’s foraged botanicals that maintained his interest, a collection of syrups and bitters all obtained from wild produce in her West of Ireland hinterland.

The aromatic cocktail bitters will set aspiring mixologists into ecstatic creative overdrive and certain of the floral syrups are a must for any decent pastry chef but The Menu keeps returning to the Pine Syrup No 1 Séasúr, finding multiple applications for its clean astringency, from cordials to cocktails, meat glazes and as a sweetener for desserts, it boasts myriad uses, but he is having especial fun pairing it with chanterelle mushrooms.

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