The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

We are heading into that time of the year most dreaded by the doughty Neidín when the Autumn festival season takes flight and he once more bears the burden that is his mighty master around the nation’s highways and byways.

However, The Menu may well sling the faithful beast over his shoulder the better to make good time to theDoolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival (Aug 25-27), in glorious West Clare, finding a combination of truly Irish beer, top tunes and some first rate noshing, all in one of the most exquisite parts of the world, a nigh unbeatable combination. 

Closer to home, The Great Irish Beer Festival(Aug 24-26), taking place in Cork City Hall, features another great lineup of craft breweries and tunes a go-go along with food and beer demos and lectures and with Stiff Little Fingers on the bill, The Menu is set to be truly transported to an extremely bygone era in his former life. 

Neidín has been chugging back a daily cocktail of steroids and EPO with the last couple of weeks in preparation for a further extended hike right up the West coast for the Taste of Donegal Food Festival (Aug 25-27). Other than the opportunity to put down some handy atin’ and drinkin’, the festival programme reads like one long masterclass with demos from a myriad of Ireland’s top chefs including Chefs Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, local boy turned national star Gary O’Hanlon, Derry Clarke, Gearóid Lynch and celebrity masterchef star Simon Delaney and Shane Smith, from the very splendid Airfield House, in Dublin.

You’ll be wanting to look lively but three of the ‘Character Cafes of West Cork’ a splendid new initiative created by Ruth Healy, of Urru Culinary Store, in Bandon, set up temporary home today (Aug 19) in the recently opened Nano Nagle Place centre, on Cork’s Douglas St. Featuring a superb trio of Bantry’s Stuffed Olive, Clon’s Lettercolum Kitchen Project and Healy’s own Urru, it is an excellent opportunity to sample West Cork’s finest fare in this wonderful new venue.


While it is a marvelously versatile and, at times, even essential product, The Menu is not alone in believing there is far, far too much plastic needlessly produced and then discarded all over the globe but it is when you learn that plastic waste in the world’s seas has now broken down to a level that has allowed it to enter the food chain, that we should really start worrying.

Plankton have been filmed eating polystyrene particles, 83% of Dublin Bay Prawns in the Clyde in Scotland were found to contain plastic particles in 2011 tests and it is estimated that 1/3 of all fish in the Irish Sea do likewise. 

A diet of plastic, surely not? After all, The Menu fails to recall Dear Old Sainted Mother Menu forcing him as a boy to follow up the gallon of cod liver oil with a couple of plastic shopping bags for good measure! 

Holly Cairns, who runs the very wonderful Brown Envelope Seeds, along with her mother Madeleine McKeever, is similarly concerned and, in response, has created a splendid little product, Wrappies, reusable and even washable waxed cloth sheets designed to act in a fashion similar to clingfilm, sealing jars and containers containing food for temporary storage. 

Granted, they don’t have quite the same multiplicity of applications as the aforementioned clingfilm but they do what they do with admirable efficacy and, coming as they do in a gorgeous range of colours and patterns, also introduce a bit of necessary pizazz and glamour to the family fridge!

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Stiegl Weisse Beer, Austria, 5.1% ABV, 500ml - €3.35

Stockists: Wine Centre, Drinkstore, Jus de Vine, Blackrock Cellar, McHughs Martins, Joyces Knocknacarra

The Stiegl brewery was established in Salzburg in 1492 around the time that that Italian lad was setting out to find a new route to India. 

Stiegl is still family owned and imported by Carlow Brewing Company (O’Haras) – they also import Stiegl’s fairly straightforward Goldbräu Helles Lager.

Unfiltered and unpasteurized this pours a hazy gold colour and is a nicely classical fruity Weiss beer. 

Aromas of banana and stone fruit follow through onto the palate, this has a pleasing lightness of touch on the middle palate and a clean fruity finish.


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