With a saddlebag full of chocolate and a straw bonnet on the bould Neidín, The Menu is taking to the highways and byways once more.
He is seeking out the finest culinary Easter treats this fair land has to offer but chances are he’ll struggle to get much further than The Franciscan Well Brewery on Cork’s North Mall, where the Easter Beer Fest (April 4/5) should be in full swing.
With guest brewers aplenty setting up in their droves, choice shall be overwhelming; from the more established outfits such as Dungarvan Brewing, Co Carlow Brewing Co, White Gypsy, Stonewell Cider and Trouble Brewing to some of the emerging new stars such as Ballyvourney’s wonderful 9 White Deer, Bo Bristle, Torc, West Cork, 12 Acres, Four Provinces, Black Donkey and Independent and, of course, one of The Menu’s favourite new arrivals, Black’s of Kinsale.
There will also be a chance to sample the Well’s own brews including the thirst-quenching Friar Weisse and the Chieftain IPA. Providing splendid soakage will be the super in-house Pompeii Pizza mob. www.franciscanwellbrewery.com
You didn’t think The Menu would forget to make mention of the good old chocolate egg, now did you? Do try and purchase from an Irish chocolatier, with Skellig Chocolates, from Dingle, turning out some tasty little numbers. Dublin-based egg-hunters should check out the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail (April 4), in Merrion Square, all in aid of Barnardos. www.eastereggtrail.com
The Limerick Strand Hotel has Easter accommodation and dining packages, including two night’s B&B, one dinner and a chocolate treat, with chef Tom Flavin also putting on the traditional spring lamb and some decadent chocolate dishes. And if that’s not enough for ya, there’s a variety of child-friendly packages and a Vintage Mad Hatter-themed Afternoon Tea for two on Easter Saturday for €30 per couple. www.strandlimerick.ie
n Meanwhile, down in the lovely Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa in Killarney, Co Kerry, they’re getting into the movie business, having teamed up with 20th Century Fox to celebrate the release of the movie Home, there’ll be a supervised children’s screening and dinner along with other child-friendly weekend activities along with the usual fine hospitality offering. www.aghadoeheights.com
n The Gaslight Bar and Brasserie at Hotel Meyrick, in Galway, is joining with another of Ireland’s growing band of bean-to-bar chocolatiers to offer a chocolate-inspired tasting menu, A Taste of Chocolate (April 4), for €36 a head (www.hotelmeyrick.ie) while another Menu favourite, Good Things Café, in Durrus is open for a wonderful Easter sunday lunch. www.goodthingscafe.com
The Menu is in danger of mixing up his festive dates as the next item would most probably have been a grand fit for a Paddy’s Day special but then The Menu’s belly lives by its own calendar.
The item in question, the latest from the Ballyhoura Mushrooms’ lab, is a Wild Garlic Salt, lovely crystals of sea salt turned green and possessed of a deep, aroma of garlic and chlorophyll that is nearly a meal in itself.
The Menu has taken to grinding it down to a fine powder and using it as a last-minute addition, it proving a very fine grace note to a smoked garlic and thyme cream, recently slathered all over some very fine Ballycotton Free Range chicken breast. www.ballyhouramushrooms.ie
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