The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

The latest food news with Joe McNamee.

Chefs serve up awards 

Yet another of Myrtle Allen’s great contributions to Irish food, the chefs’ advocacy group, Eurotoques, have just announced the winners of their annual food awards, as sponsored by EirGrid, at a ceremony held in Hugo’s restaurant, in Dublin, this week, overseen by Irish Eurotoques Commissioner General, chef Graham Neville.

This year five awards — all nominated, judged and then delivered by member chefs — were given to: Gannet Fishmongers, of Galway; Crawford’s Organic Farm, Tipperary, for their gorgeous raw milk; Eavun Carmody’s Dundrum Dexter Beef, also from Tipperary, whose zero waste policy sees them using every part of the animal, even the leather for artisan craftwork; Marita and Peter Collier’s Drummond House Garlic; and Becky and Charlie Cole’s Broughgammon Farm, for their exquisite Cabrito goat meat, incidentally, a particular impetus for The Menu’s new year’s prediction that this would be the year the Irish consumer took to delicious goat meat with a vengeance.

A special commendation was also awarded to the late Veronica Steele of Milleens Cheese, honoured by the Euro-Toques Food Awards for her significant and lasting contribution to the Irish farmhouse cheese industry here.

London’s man-of-the-moment, Dublin-born chef Robin Gill will be at the Big Grill BBQ & Craft Beer Festival
London’s man-of-the-moment, Dublin-born chef Robin Gill will be at the Big Grill BBQ & Craft Beer Festival

Fire and smoke

The Irish infatuation with cooking with smoke and flame continues apace with the fourth return of the annual Big Grill BBQ & Craft Beer Festival (August 17-28) as Europe’s biggest such gathering takes over Dublin’s Herbert Park for another splendid assembly of some of the leading Irish and international chefs and pitmasters, cooking only with natural charcoal or wood, no gas or electricity allowed, including London’s man-of-the-moment, Dublin-born chef Robin Gill and Cork-based John Relihan, of Holy Smoke.

25 of Ireland’s finest craft brewers will be joined by some of the boutique distillers to slake thirsts and along with the huge lineup of DJs spinning tunes, there will be plenty of demos and debates with Sunday down as family day (weekend entry for all children under 12 is free) with a special area for activities and entertainment including The Great Herbert Park Bug Hunt and Bushcraft demonstrations on how to survive in the wilderness.

Tasty treats in Cavan

The Taste of Cavan (August 11-12) returns with a star-studded line-up including Celebrity Masterchef star Simon Delaney and chefs Gearóid Lynch (The Olde Post Inn), Neven Maguire (MacNean House), Richard Corrigan, The Happy Pear and Catherine Fulvio.

Neven Maguire’s Home Chef of Cavan competition is for amateur chefs using local produce, over 130 stands offer top-quality local fare and a Fun Zone is packed with activities for kids. The festival is also being used to launch a very foresighted County Cavan Food Strategy, to grow the local sector over the coming years.

Listoke Distillery & Gardens offer a Gin School Experience (Aug 12), including your own station at individual copper pot stills for a gin masterclass, plus G&Ts, finger food and a bottle of your own bespoke distilled gin to take home (


The good people of Poacher’s Well, producers of fine mixers, not least their splendid range of tonic waters, have done much to elevate the standard of Irish cocktails, most especially when combined with some of the finer spirits from Irish boutique distillers and the latest addition to the stable, Ginger Ale, continues to uphold the standards set. Other than a wonderfully spicy African ginger to set the tongue a-tingling, ingredients are few and all Irish, with sweetness delightfully underplayed, arriving courtesy of sugar beets and Irish apple syrup, and The Menu especially relished a glass of fine Irish whiskey mixed with polar-cold Poacher’s straight from the fridge, no ice needed, as effervescent ginger set to work opening up the spirit’s aromatic volatile oils, dispensing glorious flavours right to the epicentre of his giddy soul.[/url]


Beer of the Week

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Dungravan Turning Tide Lemon Wheat Beer 4.7% ABV; 500ml — €3.95

Stockists: Bradleys, O’Briens, World Wide Wines, Carry Out, Next Door, Martins, Deveneys, McHughs

Turning Tide is Dungarvan Brewery’s small batch summer thirst-quencher which they describe as reminiscent of a Spanish Clara — Spain’s beer and lemon soda summer drink.

Typical wheat beer aromas of citrus and spicy bananas come first but on the palate this has a distinct bitter lemon character that almost places it in the sour category. A bitter hop middle and finish make this supremely dry so you might want some cheese on the side (Dungarvan recommend Knockalara) — failing that perhaps Tayto Cheese and Onion!

— Leslie Williams


For an instant supper or lunch, fishcakes can be nourishing, warming and tasty. To complete a balanced meal, all it takes is some stirfried or roasted root vegetables.Taste of the sea: Top 8 fish cakes

My seven-year-old stood tall, whispered “bravery” to herself and stepped into the pitch-black dungeon. I stood there and watched her disappear.Learner Dad: I hate nostalgia, I think it’s mawkish and sentimental

Dr Phil Kieran says head lice is incredibly common among school children and offers practical advice on how to remove the crawlers with easy treatments.Tackling head lice: Easy treatments to remove itchy creepers

Gráinne Healy only started running regularly a few years ago. She’s already completed 50 parkruns. She tells Rowena Walsh what motivates her.Ageing with Attitude: Parkruns and quiet Friday nights

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