The Menu: Foraging for food

Food news with Joe McNamee.

One of the dining highlights of last year was the wonderfully innovative Dillisk Food Project, a communal dining experience sited in a renovated seaside boat shed in Connemara, serving fresh and foraged food from the immediate locality with an emphasis on superb seafood. 

It returns for a second year running, hosting dinners in August and September, with tickets now available to purchase through the website. (

Also, some way off in the future is the Taste of West Cork Food Festival (September 4-13) but The Menu urges all to clear space in the diary for this celebration of Ireland’s original food heaven, involving over 30 towns, 80 restaurants, pubs and hotels and eight of the region’s wonderful islands.

A sneak preview of guest chefs includes Dubliner Andy McFadden (of Masterchef and head chef of London’s Michelin-starred L’Autre Pied), Derry Clarke and JP McMahon and The Menu himself will be involved in a very special dining event, to be revealed in coming weeks. (

Pleasured palate

Two of his most favoured fruits must be the grape and the coffee bean without which The Menu’s world would be an impossibly hellish place but he nonetheless approaches the impending Grape+Bean: Matchmaking With a Difference (July 16) event at L’Atitude 51 with some degree of trepidation.

While the extensive sensory palette of fine wine is renowned, many are unaware that the palette of flavours from premium roasted coffee can be equally far-reaching, yet an attempt to match varietals from each, and to the canapés to boot, has The Menu engaging in hardcore brow-furrowing.


French traditions

The mark of a splendid chef is an ability to perform at any level. Fred Desormeaux, the long-Hibernicised French chef, is supremely comfortable operating at the fine dining end but his take on simple French bistro cooking at the Fir Tree Bar, in Watergrasshill, using fine Irish ingredients is forever a pleasure for The Menu. 

We are delighted to report Fred’s revival of a French rural tradition of feeding farmers and truckers at les routiers, offering a lunchtime special of an excellent main course and coffee, tea or soft drink, all for €10. (The Menu suspects this fine offer may also be open to the public.) (

Buffalo soldiers

West Cork’s original buffalo farmer Johnny Lynch has begun a new venture, Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, which sees him reunited with one of Ireland’s great cheesemakers, Sean Ferry. The Menu was keen to taste the fruits of their renewed labours.

A finely-balanced halloumi proved most popular with The Menu’s progeny and a ricotta was exquisite when whisked in with some puréed rhubarb from the garden but that was merely a prelude to the main event, the mozzarella. 

Worried that it mightn’t pass muster, The Menu secured his ball of same from the very splendid Iago’s cheese emporium, to ensure optimum husbandry of the chalk-white globe, and settled down that very evening, just he and the glistening white orb, bare of all traditional accompaniments, to face the cheese in all its naked glory.

Wonder of wonders, if anything, it went beyond expectations, the gentle ‘rind’ revealing a rich, creamy heart that positively swooned over the tongue, The Menu himself rapidly following suit.


The Menu: Foraging for food

O’Haras Hop Adventure Sorachi Ace IPA; 5% ABV, €3.25

Stockists: Galvins, Matsons, O’Briens, Bradleys, Drink Store, Independents

This is the first in the Hop Adventure series from Carlow Brewing Company — a single hop beer using the newly fashionable Sorachi Ace hop from Japan. 

Seamus O’Hara has also been collaborating of late with Starr Hill Brewery in Virginia so watch out for Foreign Affair launched last weekend.

As is typical with Sorachi Ace beers this has lemon herb aromas, a bright lemon kick on the front of the palate allied with a burst of hops, mellowing a little on the middle palate with lemon oil touches and finishing with a concentrated bitter kick. A bright refreshing summer beer.

— Leslie Williams


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