Neidín is on extra rations for he is going to have to hightail it west next week bearing his most corpulent master to the truly wonderful location of The Burren, in Co Clare, for the 11th Burren Slow Food Festival (May 12-14) where this year’s focus is very firmly on Irish Raw Milk Cheeses and Irish Gins. 

Other highlights include: a seagoing Champagne Picnic under the Cliffs of Moher; cookery demos from chefs Jonathan Keane and Peter Jackson; the Burren Slow Food Banquet and of course the very splendid Artisan Food Producers’ Market, featuring the very finest of local fare 

Rising at an hour when he is more likely to be rolling home may pose some challenges for The Menu but he may well make an exception for the annual guided dawn chorus walk (May 14) through the magnificent 500-acre Longueville House Estate, followed by a delicious country breakfast back in the great house itself. 


To suffer from coeliac disease would rank up there as The Menu’s idea of deep, deep purgatory and he has enormous sympathy for all sufferers. Of course the waters have been greatly muddied of late with many self-diagnosed ‘gluten-intolerant’ diners seemingly more driven by the latest food fad than a real underlying medical issue so a new online self-assessment tool is to be launched as part of the upcoming Coeliac Society of Ireland’s Coeliac Awareness Week (May 8-15) as a starting point to answer questions that may lead to a proper medical diagnosis. 


Another of the great old country homes, Ballyvolane House, hosts a fundraising long-table lunch (May 13) and guided garden stroll as a fundraiser for schoolchildren heading to Armenia for two weeks this summer with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in some of the most deprived areas of that country. 

Along with a three-course lunch, diners will be greeted with a cocktail featuring Ballyvolane’s very own Bertha’s Revenge Gin. 

The White Horse in Ballincollig does a decent job of turning out the nosebag so readers would be well advised to check out the monthly supper club, The Grub Club, the latest iteration, an Urban Street Food (May 11) four-courser featuring some intriguing offerings including fish tacos with jalapeno margaritas and charred banana lollipop with coconut, and all for the criminally low price of €20 (food only) or €30 (food and cocktails) with music to follow. 


The Menu recently happened upon a bottle of Forgotten Fruits Éire Apple Juice made from handpicked (non-certified) organic Irish apples, from Future Orchards, just outside Cork city. 

Any prolonged samplings of apple juice are a rare occurrence in Chez Menu for The Menu Progeny take to the stuff like vampires self-administering a blood transfusion. 

The juice itself is excellent, a complex medium acidity pressing of multiple apple varieties which presents with a tartness breaking through to sweet dessert apple but there is a lot more going on in the dusky, almost coffee-like notes that linger on the palate. 

Equally interesting though is that Future Orchards operate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programme, that allows interested persons to contribute a fixed sum at the beginning of the year towards labour, materials and other fixed costs and then as produce comes in over the course of the growing season, they subsequently claim their share. It is a truly enlightened system. 


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