The Menu has always found Castletownshend in West Cork an intriguing spot and relishes the prospect of an evening there for some fine dining courtesy of one of his most beloved chefs, Caitlin Ruth, of Deasy’s Harbour Bar & Restaurant.
A Night at the Castle (March 6), sees Ruth team up with Flavour.ie for sundowners and canapés followed by a multi-course dinner and the option to stay overnight in the gorgeous venue (cottages also available for groups of four or six) with breakfast also courtesy of Ruth ( www.flavour.ie ).
A similar gourmet extravaganza in salubrious surroundings takes place at Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara.
A gourmet food and wine weekend (March 3-5) includes food sourcing from the shoreline, cookery demos, and a host of other marine-related education and instruction, as well as a seafood banquet from top chef Tim O’Sullivan. (€225pp including two nights B&B ( www.renvyle.com )
The indefatigable GIY has just launched a nationwide Cottage Market programme offering community groups financial support and training to start 20 cottage markets, not at all dissimilar to traditional country markets, and open to hobby growers and those not quite geared up for full commercial trading.
Funding available, courtesy of partners Ulster Bank and the Ireland Funds, amounts to €65,000 over the next two years, with GIY especially keen to see homemade, homegrown food, and craftwork regain a special spot in the heart of local communities.
(Application deadline March 3. www.thecottagemarket.ie/set-up-a-cottage-market
With Good Things Café & Restaurant in Skibbereen reopening for the new season, The Menu is glad to bring details of classes in the in-house cookery school.
Evening courses, including wine and dinner, run each Thursday through March, teaching three quick dishes each night in a highly sociable setting ( www.goodthingscafe.com ).
Nicaraguan Heydi Mairena tells the story of her artisan fairtrade chocolate at Ballymaloe Cookery School (March 1) with all proceeds going to East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.
Booking essential: Tel 021 4646785 or email email@example.com
The Menu was mightily impressed by the Cork Incubator Kitchens, which he toured on a recent trip to Carrigaline.
A Cork County Council initiative, they have been set up to assist new or emerging food businesses who haven’t quite made the leap to forking out for expensive kitchen kit of their own.
With two superbly kitted out kitchens (one bakery, one catering), it affords a new business to test the commercial waters or for small producers or caterers to carry out one-off baking or catering contracts they might otherwise be ill-equipped to expedite.
All in all, a most commendable operation overseen by the eminently capable Brendan Russell, himself a recovering chef of some long standing.
A couple of places remain for the next round (beginning Feb 27), grant funding available (20% for employed, full funding for unemployed).
Snuffling along like truffle-hunting pigs through the stalls at Douglas Farmers Market one recent Saturday morning, The Menu and Son No 2 chanced upon some fine Cáis na Tíre at Mark Hosford’s cheese stall.
One of the finest cheesemakers in the country, Marion Roeleveld, for Barry and Lorraine Cahalan, she uses milk from Friesland sheep on their farm in Terryglass, Co Tipperary.
It is a stunning cheese, earthy, nutty, ripe with a tongue-tingling nip and bright fresh notes of sweet apple that caramelise on the palate, all making for a worthy retort to any Italian pecorino.
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