The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Over the decades, at home and abroad, The Menu has always attempted to support refill shops, where the consumer brings along their own containers thus negating the need to wastefully dispose of excess packaging.

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Over the decades, at home and abroad, The Menu has always attempted to support refill shops, where the consumer brings along their own containers thus negating the need to wastefully dispose of excess packaging.

And he always pondered their seemingly inevitable failure, even in times of recession when shopping in emporiums seemed a no-brainer for most ordinary consumers.

But he now suspects successful longevity for such enterprises won’t be the prospect of saving pennies —although that too is often a natural consequence of informed sustainable shopping — but of saving the planet, one piece of single-use, non-recyclable packaging at a time.

West Cork, one of the true testing grounds of the modern Irish food movement, is, naturally, once again to the fore in such an initiative.

The Menu has been meaning for over a year to make some mention of the very excellent Twig (theolivebranch.ie), billed as Clonakilty’s Minimal Waste Shop, an adjunct of the excellent little Olive Branch health food store and deli, which also does a very nice line in reusable, refillable containers.

Shannen ‘Diva Boutique’ Doherty has added Leafling Mercantile (facebook.com/LeaflingMercantileBallinspittle) to her own splendid Ballinspittle-based food portfolio, also offering some very nice local produce, while the uber-progressive Organico (organico.ie), one of the country’s leading edible emporiums of all things delicious and healthy have opened their own ‘refillable’ wing with an excellent range available.

A Cask-full of brunch

Cork cocktail bar Cask is now open for weekend brunch which can be enjoyed in tandem with its seasonally-changing cocktail menu based around wild, foraged flavours, which sounds like a mighty fine prescription for ‘breaking the fast’ in a most leisurely fashion.

caskcork.com

Dining all together

The Menu will be up to his oxters in his Grub Circus at next weekend’s All Together Now music festival in Waterford, and his many star guest speakers and performers from the Irish food world will include Darina Allen, Paul Flynn (The Tannery), Kevin Thornton, Martin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy), Kevin Aherne (Sage Midleton), Holly Dalton (Gertrude, Dublin), JR Ryall (Ballymaloe House), Enda McEvoy (Loam, Galway), Anna Haugh (Myrtle, London), Oisin Davis (The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin) and Belfast’s Bia Rebel, all involved in what promises to be a weird, wild, and wonderful weekend of culinary high jinks and he highly advises any and all festival-goers to pop in and say hello!

Today’s special

Mooching through the town of Bantry last week, The Menu and a pair of the progeny were still at a loss as to what they might constitute dinner that evening until they found themselves outside the premises of a very fine local family firm, Paddy O’Donoghue & Son.

Now, O’Donoghue’s is a million miles away from those ‘butchers’ selling nothing but pre-packed clingfilm-sheathed packages of meat, Irish, usually, but provenance after that is vague at best.

O’Donoghue’s is an actual butchers, selling all parts of the animal from nose to tail, hoof to head, and with the oink, bleat, or bellow thrown in for free.

It took No 2 Son mere seconds for his gaze to alight on some very fine looking aged rib eye steaks, flesh of deep vermillion and gorgeous creamy yellow fat, from beef cattle finished on their own farm and only crying out for a brief encounter with the pan.

That evening, back home in their West Cork lair, he and said progeny whipped up a lovely champ of steamed local Queens, Glenilen butter, and scallions, and dressed a salad of fresh crisp organic lettuce and greens, procured in Organico, for a West Cork dinner of sublime proportions, most especially the funky, rich beef flavours of some truly exquisite meat.

facebook.com/O’Donoghue’sFamilyButchers

Spirit of the week

Stockists: Bradleys, The Loop Dublin and Cork Airports, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin/Killarney, L Mulligan Grocer, DrinkStore

Cloudberry Gin was launched in November 2018 by Dundalkbased Nicola and Tom Grills — Nicola is a Cork native and the gin has finally arrived in the real capital (Bradleys, North Main St).

While juniper-driven, this has wild Cooley elderflowers with coriander and Cassia bark — its points of difference are grapefruit and cloudberries to add a pleasing bitter-sweet tinge.

Aromas of juniper, ripe fruit, and spice with floral touches — on the palate the juniper hits first, followed by herbs and spice, smooth (almost creamy), with rounded citrus and herb flavours on the finish.

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