The summer festival season is already under way with more of the big guns readying themselves in the weeks ahead.

Cork Summer Show (June 17-18) may be a mighty agricultural celebration but it is also a family-friendly event of equal appeal to the non-farming community. 

(Mind you, as ‘eaters’ all, The Menu reckons every last citizen on the island is a ‘member’ of the farming community.) 

Along with the usual live entertainment and livestock, there are myriad options in the on-site food market and food tents including talks (‘The importance of Bees & Butterflies’, UCC Biodiversity Talk), demos (Paul McDonald, Bastion, Kinsale) and tastings (The Square Table, Blarney, A Taste of the Old Butter Roads). 

Cork Midsummer Arts festival is always good for a nibble-friendly event and while the humongous Long Table (June 18) dinner on Cork’s South Mall sold out immediately, the Picnic in the Park (June 18) is a free event (bring your own family picnic) with arts entertainment and activities all day. 

Taste of Dublin (June 15-18) returns with another stunning selection of chefs from home and abroad in the Iveagh Gardens. 

Guests include Ross Lewis, Kevin Dundon, Darina Allen, Neven Maguire, Daniel Clifford (Two Michelin-starred Midsummer House, England) and his fellow Irish Masterchef judge Dublin chef Robin Gill, Sunil Ghai (Pickle) and Ireland’s only female Michelin-starred chef Danni Barry, of Eipic, in Belfast. 

Taste of tapas

The second annual World Tapas Day (June 15) celebrates Spanish small plates and The Menu is all in favour of the Irish version, featuring fine local produce, with events throughout the country including the Spanish Tourism Board hosting a stand at Taste Dublin. 

Year of the Soils

2015 was the UN International Year of the Soils and the near-universal lack of interest or enthusiasm for the event was almost as horrifying as the continuing degradation and disappearance of one of the fundamentals of our existence on this planet. 

So The Menu is delighted to draw some belated attention to a campaign being supported by Darina Allen and environmentalist Duncan Stewart among others to urge the EU to take steps to protect our soil. 

The Environmental Pillar NGO has launched a social media campaign, #Selfie4Soil, to boost public awareness of the People4Soil campaign, seeking signatures for a European Citizen’s Initiative petition, with 8,000 signatures required in Ireland for the petition to pass. 

Blythman in Ballymaloe

One of The Menu’s great food heroes, Joanna Blythman, returns to Ballymaloe, this time to the Cookery School to deliver a talk, The Big Food Lie (June 13) in aid of East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. 021 4646785

Carmel Somers and Good Things Restaurant & Café in Skibbereen offer a Man Never in the Kitchen course (June 17), including takeaway lunch for four, potentially a fine Father’s Day gift for the culinary illiterate male in your life. 

Today’s special

Burren Gold Cheese, made in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, since 1985, is the epitome of a local cheese deserving of a larger national audience. 

A firm gouda-style cheese, The Menu was especially drawn to the cumin version, the spice laying down an earthy foundation for sweet, fruity, and nutty notes in a cheese that melts away to a creamy caramel finish on the palate if you can restrain yourself at all from chewing like a hyena. 

Back at base, The Menu made a fine toastie starring Burren Gold, most delicious washed down with a couple of glasses of delightfully gluggable Un Litro (Azienda Ampeleia, Costa Toscana), a fruity and fresh natural wine from 


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