The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Not that The Menu ever needs an excuse to head west to the City of the Tribes but surely the return of the annual Galway Food Festival (March 29-April 2) is as good a reason as any.

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Not that The Menu ever needs an excuse to head west to the City of the Tribes but surely the return of the annual Galway Food Festival (March 29-April 2) is as good a reason as any, particularly as 2018 is the year Galway shares the mantle of European Region of Gastronomy, a programme to promote the unique food culture of the region and further develop its economic potential (

This year’s festival theme is ‘Planting Seeds’, a literal and metaphorical interpretation focusing on education and awareness. More than 100 events include tastings, meals, and talks, and several growing events will be targeted at children. As always the entire schemozzle winds up on Monday night with the Festival Table Quiz in the King’s Head (

Food and power

Registration has opened for the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2018 (May 29-30), at Dublin Institute of Technology, this year’s theme being ‘Food and Power’. With more that 50 Irish and international speakers, this year’s keynote speaker is Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, at New York University. ( And, on matters educational, commendations to the UCC Green Campus Committee for its new on-campus farmer’s market. Potential stallholders should contact

Best of the best

Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Best of the Best offers a personal selection of the very best places to eat, drink, and stay, throughout the length and breadth of this glorious green island. It being nearly a decade since the volume was last published, the updated version is an accurate reflection of the relentless march onwards and upwards of the hospitality sector. (Available in bookshops and via with free P&P in Ireland.)

Wine tasting

O’Driscoll’s independent food and wine store, in Cork’s Ballinlough, hosts another wine tasting (Thursday, March 29) with accompanying titbits from its in-store treasure trove, this one featuring Spanish and Chilean wines.

Cottage industry

For all that he owes Dear Old Sainted Mother Menu, his love of cooking is one thing that derives from elsewhere and on more than a few occasions, he took her to the Cinnamon Cottage in Rochestown to pick up some tasty pre-cooked meals for her freezer. A recent sampling of an Indian butter chicken and a cracking orange and pistachio polenta cake reminded him of just why she was so attached to same. Its splendid little wine list was equally enticing to The Menu himself and that remains as alluring as ever. ( Having recently enjoyed a most relaxing sojourn at The Mustard Seed, in Co Limerick, The Menu highly recommends its upcoming Easter break package, with two nights’ B&B plus one dinner, €190 pps (

Today’s special

With two younger progeny who diverge on the chilli question — one addicted, the other, a more sensitive soul, deeply and fundamentally opposed — The Menu tends to stockpile chilli sauces and other similar condiments, the better to administer a last-minute blast of ‘heat’ once Daughter Menu has been served her own ‘uncontaminated’ portion. Beagh Herbs (Mad for Chillies) Sweet Chilli Sauce offers the required heat from homegrown Thai chillies without losing the run of itself but it is the rich palette of underlying flavours (lemongrass, lime, ginger, garlic, and soy) that marks it out, sweet bass tang that makes it an excellent last minute addition to a homemade mayonnaise or even, as The Menu recently did, providing the coup de grace to a fine fish stew.

Beer of the week

Hopfully Brewing Sakura, 5.4% ABV; 33cl — €2.99

Stockists: Mainly Dublin — Fresh, Mace SCR, McHughs, Martins, Kellys, Drink Store, Deveneys.

Hopfully are based in north County Dublin and take almost as much pride in their design aesthetic as they do in their beers. As well as their own range they do occasional contract work — eg, the excellent beers they produce for the Klaw seafood restaurants.

Sakura (cherry blossom) is a ‘California Common’ style (cf. Anchor Steam) single hop beer made solely with Sorachi Ace hops — the unusual Japanese variety championed by Brooklyn Brewery among others.

Malty tropical and citrus tinged fruity aromas (lemon peel and apricot) with a herbal and noticeable floral overlay, lightly hopped and flavourful with a lingering hoppy and herbal malty finish.

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