Certainly, there were vegetarian restaurants in Ireland before Café Paradiso but you’d be hard-pressed to imagine any of them being accepted into the fine dining club at the upper end of the market all of 25 years ago when it first opened. CP is one of Ireland’s finest restaurants, vegetarian or otherwise, and to celebrate its 25th year in business will be hosting events throughout 2018, all centred on the no ‘25’, beginning with a Spring Dinner (March 20), five courses for €25. (Tel. 021 427 7939/ www.paradiso.restaurant). The Market Lane restaurant group’s very excellent Chef Sessions returns with another pop-up (March 5) at their Orso restaurant, with a 9-course menu with paired drinks designed to highlight food waste, featuring lesser-used cuts of meat and native fish, more commonly exported, as well as coffee grounds and by-products from their Elbow Lane brewery. Chef Sessions allows MLG’s younger chefs to collaborate under the guidance of their Executive Chef Stephen Kehoe. Booking essential: www.orso.ie
The very wonderful Gregan’s Castle hotel, in the Burren, re-opens for the season with a new chef, Robbie McCauley, upholding impeccable culinary standards and an introductory Clear Out the Cobwebs package offers mid-week stays in March and April that include a complimentary half day’s guided Burren Walk followed by fireside tea and cake (www.gregans.ie). The Twelve Hotel offers Westronomy, a package including tasting menu with matching wines to Galway’s regional gastronomy (www.thetwelvehotel.com)
Dear Old Sainted Mother Menu has been purging in preparation for the gorging, specifically on chocolate received as gifts for Mother’s Day (March 11). The Menu can’t resist once again mentioning Cocoa, chef Brendan Cashman’s delightful little shop featuring exquisite chocolates crafted by master chocolatier Eli Rosales but restaurants and hotels will also be packed to the rafters with the cream of Irish Mammyhood. Longueville House offer a special Sunday Lunch in their President’s Restaurant with the option of acquiring a gift voucher for afternoon tea, dinner or even an overnighter (www.longuevillehouse.ie). The Cliff Townhouse team up with neighbours at the Little Museum of Dublin to offer a ticket for the Fashion Radicals Exhibition for all enjoying Mother’s Day lunch or dinner at €49pp (www.clifftownhouse.ie)
That mighty behemoth, the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair (March 8-10) returns to Dublin’s Convention Centre and along with the humongous selection of craft brewers (more than 400 brews on offer) and distillers in a new ‘Distillers’ Quarter’ and their respective liquid wares will be live music, Six Nations Rugby on three big screens and enough dining options to fell an ox. Winners of the Dublin Craft Cups will also be announced and the festival hosts another round of the very popular Brewers Lectures (www.alltechbrewsandfood.com).
GIY announce applications for their €30,000 Cottage Market Fund supported by The Ireland Funds, open to community groups across Ireland for the establishment of 10 new GIY Cottage Markets during 2018. Last year, the inaugural offer supported the establishment of 15 Cottage Markets, which in turn became the catalyst for 16 new enterprises. Successful applicants also receive specialist training. (deadline, March 23. www.thecottagemarket.ie & www.giy.ie)
The Menu is delighted to welcome yet another native Irish coffee roaster based in Cork. Stone Valley Coffee Roasters are another West Cork-based outfit, helmed by Tom Doherty and John Boyle, and, of his initial samplings, The Menu was most impressed with a Rwandan washed Red Bourbon, Simbi, and though quite robust and well-balanced as an espresso, it really comes in to its own when prepared as a filter coffee with good rounded acidity and grippy, crunchy fruit notes of citrus and cherry. www.stonevalleyroasters.com93
Beer of the week
Ardkeen, Worldwide Wine, Matsons, Bradleys, O’Briens, and everywhere in Dungarvan and surrounding towns.
My first mention of Dungarvan Brewing in a while — this limited edition Hibiscus IPA was released last autumn but there are still some stocks around — arguably it is even more suited to springtime drinking given its fragrant fruity character.
Made with Munich malt and a bunch of aromatic hops including Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe along with some Hibiscus flowers. Pale hazy gold colour, bright tropical fruit and floral aromas, on the palate there is pink peppercorns and bright berry flavours and a supremely dry hoppy finish.
Dungarvan have a few events at the West Waterford Festival of Food on April 20 to 22, get booking!