Back when The Menu roamed the professional kitchen ranges, he had the pleasure of working alongside the very excellent Mags Curtin and it was no great surprise that she went on to become the very first Pastry Chef at Café Paradiso, for she is a fine producer of sweet baked comestibles.
While The Menu has hitherto survived by procuring Mags’ delightful confections at farmer’s markets or in retail outlets such as Ballintemple Food Stores, he no longer needs to even leave his home for Mags has set up a vintage afternoon tea service brought to wherever you desire, including cakes, biscuits, sandwiches, savouries and even a glass of bubbly or vino, if required, all served on vintage china and she does the washup to boot ( www.facebook.com/thepastryfork )! For those with a hankering for similar up in the Big Smoke, SocialBee are offering same, including picnic hampers to cart off to the nearest park. ( www.socialbee.ie )
From virtual shop to bricks-and-mortar presence
While astute homecooking Gaels with a penchant for Mexican food will be aware of Lily Ramirez-Foran’s online shop retailing all authentic Mexican ingredients, she and husband Alan have converted virtual presence into a bricks-and-mortar retail establishment on South Richmond St, including a kitchen where Lily delivers superb demos and classes ( www.picadomexican.com ). If ever proof positive were needed of the efficacy of the Diploma in Speciality Food Production course in UCC, it may be found at the foot of this very column, today’s featured product, Nusli, the excellent work of former course graduate Dermot Hanley. Applications are now being taken for 20 places available on the next course, due to run again this coming September ( www.ucc.ie/en/fitu/courses/specialityfood/ ). The Menu, a keen imbiber of fine craft beers and an equally keen fan of Donegal, has his heart set on a trek Northwards for the inaugural Wild Atlantic Craft Beer festival (Aug 1-3) with fine native and foreign beers to be had along with topnotch food and entertainment (wildatlanticcraftbeerfestival.com). But, should he fail to obtain the required travel visa in time, he shall console himself with the prospect of soon sampling five new beers from the soon-to-be-opened Rising Sons brewery in Cork city ( www.facebook.com/risingsonsbrewery ).
The Menu is betimes a cautious type, immediately suspicious when encountering any foodstuff that has undergone any process not of his own devising. Furthermore, he is warier still when aforementioned foodstuff is presented as a ‘healthy option’ but, upon encountering the Nusli range, his suspicions were for once not ill-founded. Nusli is a variation on bircher, an Alpine favourite, whereby fresh oats are soaked overnight — in milk, yoghurt, fruit juice, whatever you’re having yourself — to render a fine breakfast treat. The Nusli boffins add chopped hazelnuts and almonds and fruit to wonderful Killowen yoghurt, Ballycross apple juice, Kells wholemeal wheat and Flahavan’s oats, resulting in a splendidly creamy concoction with a substantial and satisfying texture. ( www.nusli.com ).
BEER OF THE WEEK
Kinnegar Rustbucket Rye Ale, 5.1% ABV, 500ml — €3.95
Stockists: Bradleys, Abbot Ale House, McHughs, Celtic Whiskey Shop, Ardkeen Stores, World Wide Wines, Independents.
Kinnegar are based in Rathmullen on the Fanad peninsula in north Donegal and opened their own 10 hectolitre brewery in the past year. Rustbucket Rye ale was originally commissioned by An Grianán theatre in Letterkenny but is now widely available.
Rye is around 20% of the brew and gives a light spicy character to the beer but the hops give the dominant citrus aromas and complex bitter character, particularly on the finish.
Perfect for summer drinking.
— Leslie Williams
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