The Menu is forever harping on about the still largely untapped potential for Irish food tourism, where (invariably high-spending) visitors come specifically to a destination for the food and food culture.
So kudos to the third Boyne Valley Food Series. Events kick off this weekend with blossom walks in Boyne Grove Farm with a further 40-plus events until the end of September across the region, including a Mad Hatter’s Dinner Party, Braveheart Banquet, Gourmet Electric Bike Tour, and six food festivals.
Having it on reliable authority from an aging relative that their shared ancestors were bards to the High Kings at Tara, The Menu feels a mystical compulsion to return home, with a Taste of the Estate dinner at Tankardstown House, under the stewardship of chef Robbie Krawczyk, a likely bet. www.boynevalleyfoodseries.ie
The Menu is taken with two new horticultural initiatives. The first, a joint venture between GIY (Grow It Yourself) and Cully & Sully invites Irish office workers to take up an ‘al desko’ food-growing challenge, Give Peas a Chance, with up to 500 teams of five workmates ‘farming’ peas in the workplace, each team receiving GIY packs of containers, seed and soil plus expert advice from GIY founder Michael Kelly and prize worth €5,000 (www.cullyandsully.com/ourgarden).
And the GroMór campaign, supported by Bord Bia, operates out of 65 garden centres nationwide, encouraging novice growers to grow food, offering a knowledge bank on www.gromor.ie and, finally, the Forage at Dromana House (May 3), on the Waterford Garden Trail, includes a talk on growing and foraging herbs and wildflowers followed by a foraging expedition and a culinary demo in this exquisite location (www.waterfordgardentrail.com or www.dromanahouse.com).
GRACE AND FLAVOUR
Regular Nash 19 customers will know, of course, that not only will they receive excellent nosebag and equally excellent service under the watchful eye of recently crowned RAI restaurant manager of the year (Munster) Mairead O’Brien, but can also avail of a delightful little Sternview Gallery space with Brass Tacks, Femke Vandenberg’s first solo exhibition, well worth a look (www.nash19.com). Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel kicks off a Princess Grace-inspired afternoon tea for the month of May, recalling its renowned and most regal former resident (www.shelbournedining.ie).
Those wishing to learn more about the art of coffee-making, would do well to check out the barista skills course at Orso Kitchen & Bar, an evening devoted to theory and practice, ideally suited to those seeking to perfect skills, for either professional purposes or domestic delectation. (Next dates: May 11 & June 8. Email: barista@ORSO.ie). Clonakilty Chocolate offer a superb bean-to-bar chocolate-making course (May 9). www.clonakiltychocolate.com
There is no gainsaying the butterscotch and vanilla sweetness of Déise Honey, produced by Pat Deasy’s native Irish honey bees in West Waterford, but there remains an ascetic purity to this amber nectar, fresh blossom notes and even the faintest hint of cleansing clove. All of which makes it harder again for The Menu to restrain his inner Winnie the Pooh. For the moment, however, exercising what he believes to be monastic levels of self-denial, he more than makes do with a tablespoon of Déise Honey mixed with creamy natural Irish yoghurt and some toasted, flaked almonds.
BEER OF THE WEEK
Longueville House Medium Dry Cider, 5% ABV, 500ml, €4.59
Widely Available. Stockists include Bradleys, Matsons, Galvins, Castle Tralee, O‘Briens, Redmonds, Baggot Street Wines, www.longuevillehouse.ie.
Craft cider is a vintage product that can only be made once a year – in many ways it is the closest thing we have to Irish wine. Let’s hope this week’s frost doesn’t damage the crop which is now flowering. Longueville House Cider is made from Dabinett and Michelin cider apples from trees planted at Longueville by the late, (great) Michael O’Callaghan. The current vintage is their best yet I think – bright, clean, aromatic apple and pear essence aromas and flavours, richly satisfying with a dry fresh finish.
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