Here is all the latest food news with Joe McNamee
Say it with chocolate
The Menu, great big soft-hearted galoot that he is, doesn’t restrict himself to Valentine’s Day when it comes to putting on the woo but will certainly make a special effort on the day as Mrs Menu can take or leave the woo but most definitely expects a surfeit of choccies to wend her way.
The offering from Butler’s certainly fits the bill: Irish-made chocolates in a variety of formats, in packaging designed to suit all wallets and levels of amorous intensities, including a large heart-shaped selection box and a much smaller — but infinitely cuter, according to La Daughter Menu — pink heart-shaped tin for storing romantic keepsakes once the gorging is complete.
The canny swain will always ensure a suitably conducive destination and The Menu has a pocket book full of same: the very lovely Brooklodge & Macreddin Village in Wicklow is always a banker but a special V-Day package of B&B, dinner in La Taverna Armento, its southern Italian restaurant, a rejuvenating vitamin E flourish organic facial, and full use of the Wells Spa facilities for €145 would work very nicely.
The Menu and his beloved Mrs Menu are in full agreement that every day is V-Day at the Mustard Seed, in Co Limerick, and it too provides a lovely package of four-course dinner and full B&B (one of the finest breakfasts around) which is designed to melt the hardest of hearts.
Glover’s Alley restaurant, home to top chef Andy McFadden, has special V-Day menus (four- or eight-course tasting menu) and complimentary bubbles, all to be enjoyed in the swish surroundings alongside St Stephen’s Green, with complimentary parking for V-Day guests in the Fitzwilliam Hotel.
And while it may not be specifically geared towards courting couples, the popular Richy’s Restaurant and Café, in Clonakilty launches ‘Richy’s Curry Club’ on V-Day (and every second and fourth Thursday of the month thereafter) — sounds like a rather fun night out.
The Menu, however, finding it beneath him, leaves you, dear reader, to make with the too obvious wisecracks about ‘love’ and ‘spice’ and ‘hot’ etc.
The Virgin Mary
The Menu is highly intrigued to hear of the Virgin Mary Bar, on Capel St, in Dublin, the country’s first permanently alcohol-free bar which, if nothing else, is set to become an international news story, tagged on to some lazy national stereotypes.
Equally, however, he salutes the notion, knowing more than a few people who would relish the opportunity to venture out for the night to somewhere that isn’t always a pub but still goes that extra mile with some very fine-sounding alcohol-free ‘cocktails’, beers, and wines.
The ‘humble’ spud seems rather a bizarre soubriquet for one of the cornerstones of our national cuisine and The Menu is far more likely to employ the word ‘noble’ when referring to the National Tuber, such is his love and admiration for this wondrous foodstuff.
Accordingly, he has long been a supporter of the great work in reviving old heritage varieties and is also ever on the lookout for new varieties to expand the palate.
His latest discovery is the Lady Claire, from Ballycurraginny Farm, in Killeagh, East Cork, grown by Joe and Sandra Burns, of Joe’s Farm Crisps renown.
This particular variety, low on natural sugars and erring on the dry side when cooked, is specifically geared for crisp production so The Menu suspected it would make an equally fine chip.
More than fine, just two dunkings in the hot oil instead of the three more commonly employed around these parts yielded just about the crispiest chip yet sampled in Menu Towers, and, despite the low sugar content, neither did it disappoint when it came to tasting, most especially dipped in aioli spiked with smoked jalapeno, procured at the Cork Chilli Farm stall, also at Douglas Farmer’s Market.
Beer of the Week
Yellow Belly in Wexford are one of the most creative craft beer houses and I could put a new beer of theirs in here every week.
This is a limited edition so apologies if it is gone by the time this appears but always feel you can take a risk with this producer.
On the Fritz is brewed with German and Belgian malts and dry hopped with Huell Melon hops from Germany.
The beer pours a dusky pale lemon colour with aromas of lemon zest, pine and grapefruit, crisp and fruity with a pleasing lightness of touch.