The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Joe McNamee brings you the latest news from the Irish food world. 

Veg course

It would appear the trend of eating plant-based food is set to explode in 2018 and The Menu believes it to be a very good thing indeed. As a‘recovering vegetarian’ who still enjoys many meat-free days each month, he knows well the endless culinary possibilities, along with the
environmental and nutritional benefits, of eating such a diet.

Sligo’s Sweet Beat vegetarian cafe offers a six-week course aimed at furnishing you with all the basics, suitable for beginners and experienced cooks. Taking place in the cafe once a week (starting January 17), participants will build up their own recipe books while enjoying delicious samples along with some of Sweet Beat’s own ferments and dips.

Barista training

One result of the coffee revolution is a hugely increased demand for trained baristas. Dublin-based First Draft Coffee has launched a recruitment agency specifically to provide the industry with willing bodies, while also attempting to formalise the craft and standardise training and skills across the industry. Potential candidates will be assessed and offered any necessary training to bring them up to speed, thereby providing potential employers with baristas ready to hit the ground running from day one.

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Email for information.

Stocking up

A most benevolent master, when traversing the highways and byways, The Menu always makes sure to fit in regular rest stops for his faithful steed, The Bould Neidín. One increasingly regular hitching post when heading West is to be found in Innishannon. Rohu’s is a class of café-cum-country market (open every day save Monday) offering a good selection of produce from many of the finest local producers: Fruit and veg from Waterfall Farm and Horizon Farms; eggs from Beechwood Eggs and Devoy’s Organic Eggs; Arbutus Breads; Jack McCarthy butchers and Baltimore Bacon. Master baker Dave Matues provides delicious in-house breads and cakes, and there is a decent range of hot and cold lunches to eat on the premises — or make like The Menu and clan and take exquisite crab salad sandwiches away for an impromptu picnic.

Making magic

Rather last minute but The Menu highly recommends picking up the blower and checking on availability for another Bia Beag event, The Magic of Fermentation (today, January 13), taking place in Highbank Orchard, Kilkenny, with speakers including Joe Fitzmaurice (Riot Rye), Eleanor Duggan (Little Green Grocer), Rod Calder-Potts (Highbank Orchard), and Hayley Milthorpe (The Cultured Food Company).


Down through the years, The Menu never wavered in his loyalty to pure Irish butter and wasn’t surprised at the recent revision in thinking which recognises this product as far superior to any substitute ‘spreads’. But there are gradations of excellence when it comes to Irish butter: At the pinnacle is ‘country butter’ from producers such as Cuinneog, Glenilen, and Glenstal, what The Menu likes to refer to as ‘eating’ butter. But, when any of the above isn’t easily accessed, he will seek out a co-op butter, such as Bandon or Aughadown. The most recent such product to grace his morning toast is North Cork Co-Op Creameries Pure Irish Creamery Butter. Though exceptionally creamy, it has a lovely, clean, and pure finish, brought to the fore with some judicious salting, neither too much nor too little. It’s particularly delicious atop a slice of Irena Tammik’s Norse Rye sourdough.


Kate Tempest’s Vicar Street show began with the mother of all selfie moments. The 33 year-old poet and rapper disapproves of mid-concert photography and instructed the audience to get their snap-happy impulses out of the way at the outset. What was to follow would, she promised, be intense. We should give ourselves to the here and now and leave our phones in our pockets.Kate Tempest dives deep and dark in Dublin gig

Des O'Sullivan examines the lots up for auction in Bray.A Week in Antiques: Dirty tricks and past political campaigns

Following South Africa’s deserved Rugby World Cup victory I felt it was about time that I featured some of their wines.Wine with Leslie Williams

All your food news.The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

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