In the dark days of January, The Menu is often tempted to take the ursine option and opt for a bear-like hibernation until the Irish culinary calendar begins to once more throw up attractive options.
Should he choose to do so, it will only be after midday next Tuesday when the box office opens (January 12) for one of Ireland’s finest food events, the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest 2016.
The Menu is especially excited at the prospect of seeing the greatly celebrated South American chef Francis Mallman, the maestro of cooking over naked flame; the wonderfully entertaining Kamal Mouzawak, polyglot founder of Souk el Tayeb, in Beirut, a multi-pronged operation dedicated to preserving the local Lebanese food heritage; and the legendary Prue Leith, novelist, cookbook author, founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine and all-round force of nature. www.litfest.ie
Patrick ‘Firehouse Bakery’ Ryan, The Menu’s old comrade-in-harm, is never a man to sit still and The Menu is greatly taken with his efforts to bring proper doughnuts to the nation, via the Revolution Bakery.
If you’ve only ever endured the sub-standard industrial stodge from garage forecourts or similar outlets, prepare for a brush with the divine as Ryan’s are the real thing, made from slow-proved handcrafted dough using natural ingredients and quality fillings, including salted caramel, toffee apple crumble and vanilla custard, very much The Menu’s idea of a New Year’s Revolution. www.revolutionbakery.ie
The Menu still has memories of Father Menu bringing home finest French nougat for his progeny to maul and has ever since vainly attempted to find the equal of that childhood chomp, a fruitless quest until he received delivery of Miena’s almond and pistachio nougat, from Co Wicklow.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted same in The Menu’s recent 2015 Christmas hamper but it deserves further mention, hailing its playful pull in the chewing rather than the belligerent tug-of-war so common to industrially-produced inferiors and its soft honey-induced sweetness and delicious toothsome nuts. www.mienas.ie
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