The Menu astride the bould Neidín is heading for Lisnavagh House, in Co Carlow, for a splendid evening of wining and dining at the monthly Supper Club (March 31) featuring a menu of locally grown organic produce and the fruits of the Lisnavagh walled garden.
Beginning with cocktails in the library before repairing to the dining room, The Menu is going the whole hog and booking in for an overnight stay with a choice of the ‘big house’ itself or the stableyard apartments, both coming with the offer of a fine cooked breakfast in the morning.
Speaking of stately old Irish homes, ‘Devonshire Day’ (March 19) is upon us again, offering a preview of the exquisite gardens at Lismore Castle followed by Devonshire Cream Tea in the Pugin Room, overseen by the Duke of Devonshire’s butler, all in aid of the Immrama Festival of Travel Writing, taking place in June, in Lismore.
Bookings: tel 058-53803 or 058-54975 www.facebook.com/lismoreimmrama
Of late, The Menu has lost the run of himself with the pie-making, turning out Tartes Tatin to beat the band, using James Scannell’s deliciously tart Bramley apples from his Knockmealaguala orchards, west of the city, so a clever little competition organised by the Irish Apple Growers Association to tie in with World Pi day (the number 3.14), celebrated annually on the 14th day of the third month, offers free apples for tart-making on the condition each baker then ‘pays it forward’, gifting the pie and the baking public are encouraged to interact (or even nominate a ‘baker’ online) with Bord Bia organising a prize of a weekend cookery course with Catherine Fulvio
(participating growers www.facebook.com/FreeApplesForTarts)
Chef Sunil Ghai’s justly lauded Pickle restaurant, in Dublin, celebrates the Hindu Spring festival of Holi (Indian festival of colours) with a lunchtime tiffin box (March 14-16) and while The Menu is saddened to learn he won’t be allowed to indulge in traditional pelting of powdered paints and spraying of coloured waters, he still very much looks forward to noshing down on a host of North Indian street food treats.
The Wise Traditions conference (March 25 & 26) returns once more with another international line-up of speakers covering the healing power of traditional foods and challenging mainstream nutritional beliefs.
Good luck to all competitors, most especially student Kyle Lynch, from Glencree, in Mayfield, who will represent The Menu’s old alma mater as CIT Food, Tourism & Hospitality Dept host the 20th Knorr Student Chef of the Year 2017.
The Menu has real sympathy for coeliacs and those with genuine gluten intolerance for it takes a baker of especial talent to make a sufficiently workable gluten-free dough.
Luckily, Clare O’Brien, of Gan Gluten, is such a talent and her pastry is excellent and, in the form of a savoury pie housing a spicy lentil and veg filling, makes for a most splendid lunch, served with fresh salad leaves from Derek of Greenfield Farm and a nice homemade aioli. (Contact 086 233 9519).
The Menu also very much enjoyed a range of gluten-free beers, Stag Saor, from the very fine 9 White Deer craft brewery, in Ballyvourney.
When co-founder Don O’Leary was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance shortly after the brewery opening, it seemed the gods of temperance were playing the cruellest of jokes but necessity was very much the mother of this particular piece of invention as the excellent range will appeal to all beer drinkers, gluten-intolerant or not, most especially a crisp, clean red ale, a bright and peppery IPA and a silky sweet Double Chocolate & Vanilla stout.