The menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Do, please, come in and sit down, 2018! Extend your palm thusly, that Mystic Menu might divine your path over the coming 12 months. As always, this Al-Menu-nac for the year ahead begins with a brief look at predictions delivered in January last year, the hits and the misses.

The menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Again, it looks as if The Menu remains ahead of the curve for his predicted embrace of goat meat by the Irish dining population has yet to take place on any large and meaningful level but he remains certain this is a meat that will increasingly gain prominence on the Irish dining table, alongside a whole host of other carnivorous options.

It would certainly be more sustainable than the State’s current over-enabling of the cattle and dairy sector, continuing to drive livestock numbers higher and higher, making it harder and harder to achieve our targets when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, no matter that the ‘greenwashing’ of Origin Green would have you believe otherwise.

Last year, Mystic Menu also made predictions for two of Ireland’s best chefs. The first, concerning Rob Krawczyk, formerly of Tankardstown, didn’t pan out exactly as predicted nor in the expected time frame: instead of Dublin, Krawczyk is now set to open in his native West Cork, sometime in late spring and The Menu can’t help but feel this is an infinitely better outcome.

The Menu also thought 2017 would be the year the country at large discovered the truth worth of the superb Kevin Murphy, erstwhile chef/proprietor of Idá’s, in Dingle, Co Kerry.

Sadly, The Menu received a call from Kevin in early December to inform him he was going to have to close up shop for good as it was simply not viable to deliver his rarified offering in a small town so remote from the rest of the country, for all its much deserved reputation as an epicurean epicentre.

However, The Menu predicts this is far from the end for one of Ireland’s most original and talented chefs and that he will return better than ever in 2018.

The coffee revolution continues apace in Cork. The Menu will soon tell more about, Velo, another new addition to the county’s portfolio of fine local roasters and also suggests readers watch out for Tom Doherty and John Boyle’s Stone Valley Roasters.

While the increasingly schizoid DUP may shudder at the notion, the 32 counties has continued to get on with a cultural reunification that is especially notable from a culinary perspective, for there is nothing to unite people like the shared breaking of bread. Real Bread Ireland’s membership, for example, now includes multiple members from the North while the standard of northern chefs continues to rise.

It should be a big year for two in particular: the wonderful Danni Barry who has called time on her stint with Eipic, Michael Deane’s Belfast restaurant, for whom she earned a Michelin star in the first year of opening, retaining it in the following two, is now helming Clenaghan’s restaurant in Aghalee, Co Antrim, delivering a rustic bistro-style cuisine closest to her heart.

Chris McGowan returned home after 20 years in London, including time with Richard Corrigan, and set up Wine & Brine in the postcard-pretty village of Moira, in Co Down. A former participating chef in Great British Menu, he brings his consummate skills on an increasing availability of fine local produce and also offers serious masterclasses.

The Menu fancies we’ll be hearing a lot more about both.

Finally, something of a no-brainer, for Takashi Miyazaki is already a national star, but The Menu predicts his new fully-seated restaurant (formerly Fenn’s Quay restaurant), will cement his position as one of the country’s foremost chefs. Happy New Year to one and all!

Spirit of the week

D.W.D.Heritage Edition Irish Whiskey, 40% ABV, 70cl — €48

Stockists: The Loop Dublin and Cork Airport, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin and Killarney and available in selected Dublin bars.

Yet another new Irish Whiskey, this time a revival of the old D.W.D brand that died in 1946. DWD mirrors are at the back of the bar of many a traditional pub in Dublin so a revival makes sense.

A blend of malt and grain whiskies some double distilled (probably old Cooley stock) and some triple distilled, and matured for five to 10 years in first-fill Bourbon casks. Aromas of vanilla and sweet apple and pear fruits, soft and supple on the palate with a pleasing toffee and tarte-tatin character. Smooth and satisfying and a good beginning.

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