The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Here’s what going on this week in the world of food. 


Next Friday is Culture Night all around the country and there is no surprise that many of the Cork events are built around food, not least, one of the greatest annual attractions, the evening opening of the English Market, an event always so wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable, you can’t help wondering why it doesn’t happen more often throughout the year.

Other events of note include a beer /food pairing in the Franciscan Well Brewery, food and art at Nash 19/Sternview Gallery, free brewery tours at the Rising Sons Brewery and, of course, the ever popular Bringing the Wine Geese Home historical walking tour of the city, retracing the footsteps of Cork’s Wine Geese families, ending with a special tasting back at base camp in L’Atitude 51. (

The Pigtown food series continues in Limerick with a Pig in the City parade their contribution to Culture Night (Sept 22) including puppets, pigs, music, dancing and giant balloons while the Milk Market hosts cooking and butchery demos, a photo exhibition from Limerick butchers and local street food stalls.


Screggan, Tullamore, in Co Offaly will once again be the destination of choice for the farming community this week as all and sundry head to the National Ploughing Championships 2017 (Sept 19-21) for the most important event in the Irish agricultural calendar.

All #Ploughing action at the National Championships

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With last year bringing a record-breaking attendance of 283,000 plus visitors spending €36.5m, the organisers will be hoping for more of the same this year.

Attractions include Vintage Displays, Pony Games, Sheep Shearing Demos and sheep dog trials, a ‘Lifestyle Village’, the National Brown Bread Baking Championship and multiple cookery demonstrations.


It would take an extraordinary, perhaps even apocalyptic set of circumstances for The Menu’s idea of city hotel break to ever include an early rising followed by vigorous exercise but, nonetheless, The Marker Hotel, one of Dublin’s funkier new hospitality venues is now offering a number of packages for those tragically afflicted with an addiction to the sporting of sweaty lycra with a range of activities on offer including rooftop yoga, a bike-and-picnic package to explore the surrounding docklands and Grand Canal Square or further afield and, most alarming of all, a ‘running concierge’, available from 7.30am to take guests on a guided 5k run. (


If the old adage, Man does not live by bread alone, holds any truth, then it begs the question, what class of species is The Menu at all, at all, for while he certainly does not live by bread alone, he nonetheless puts the stuff away at an extraordinary rate.

Good, bread, though, real bread made with little other than flour, water and time, not the pappy output of the industrial sector.

Strolling around Skibbereen Farmers’ Market last weekend, The Menu paused at Deirdre& Martin’s Bakeshop to snaffle an exceedingly tasty hazelnut confection to pair with his coffee when he was moved to make an impulse purchase of one of Martin’s ‘freaky’ spelt sourdoughs, rather innocuous in appearance but, when sliced, yielding a truly delicious, nutty flavour and fine airy crumb structure.


Availability of the aforementioned pair’s produce is rather limited to a small area around their Rosscarbery HQ but should that prove too far to travel, then do seek out Real Bread Ireland ( for a member in your own locality.

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