The Menu: The Square Table restaurant, a Lobster Festival, and more

Food news with Joe McNamee

On the road again

The Menu is long overdue a return match at one particularly fine little establishment, The Square Table restaurant in Blarney, where he has enjoyed some very splendid food in the past, all derived from a deceptively simple menu studded with the offerings of some of the finest local producers.

Chef Martina Cronin and sister Tricia are not only proprietors of the aforementioned establishment but are also co-founders of a wonderful new initiative, The Old Butter Roads Food Trail (to be officially launched in Blarney on April 29) which to date features 25 dining establishments and producers from the Muskerry, Duhallow, and Avondhu regions. The Cronins will host a showcase Old Butter Road producers dinner (April 30) at their bijou premises on the corner of the square, a tasting menu featuring many of the great names of Cork food, including Ballinwillin House Wild Boar Farm, Toonsbridge Dairy, Coolea Cheese, Hegarty’s Cheese, Macroom Mills Flour, McCarthy Natural Dairy, butchers Twomey’s (Macroom) and Jack McCarthys’ (Kanturk), and a couple of ‘blow-ins’, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and O’Connell’s Fish, from the English Market.

Off the books

Jess Murphy, chef/proprietor along with husband David at the wonderful Kai Restaurant, in Galway, finishes her season of evenings cooking from featured cookbooks with a night of dishes (April 24) from Travis Lett, chef/proprieter of LA’s hip Gjelina restaurant and his Cali-Med style farm-to-fork cooking (

Lobster festival

Those with the wherewithal for a trip out west could do worse than visiting The Tavern Lobster Festival (April 28-May 1), in Murrisk, Co Mayo, with chef/proprietor Myles O’Brien offering a series of dishes featuring the captivating crustacean as well as competitions, giveaways, and music.


Waste not, want not

One of the most egregious iniquities of the modern industrialised global food system is that although 1bn people go hungry every day, we jettison 1.3bn tons of perfectly edible food each day around the world. This is why The Menu will be packing beats and a bowl, seeking out the very first World Disco Soup Day (April 29), a global happening organised by the Slow Food Youth Network encouraging young people all over the world to organise and make their own ‘protest soup’ using food destined for dumping to show that ‘waste’ food is often perfectly edible .

To organise your own event or find others in your area see

Today’s special

The Menu has always been fond of a post-prandial snifter but, of late, has been quite mesmerised by his tastings of silky smooth Longueville House Apple Brandy. Twice distilled, then put down in French oak red wine casks for four years, this is one of our very finest native spirits, fit to hold its own with any of the world’s great alcoholic beverages. The Menu not only tasted sweet, tart apples but the saddle leather of a horse that might be partial to such an apple and the faint whiff of a farmyard lustily fertilised by the aforementioned steed. Left unchecked, The Menu’s mental maunderings would soon have him crying ‘tally ho’ as he rode steeplechase through the fields around Mallow but, even without his guff, there is no denying the complex tastes and aromas of Longueville Apple Brandy are deeply imbued with the terroir of its North Cork home. Nor is it just for sipping: A couple of tablespoons added to an orange zest and anise syrup in which The Menu gently poached some rhubarb fresh from his garden made for one of the finest fruit crumbles scoffed around these parts for years.


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