The Menu: home cooking

The Bord Bia-organised Ireland stand will feature some of our utterly splendid raw milk cheeses.

The Menu is always delighted to hear of foreign pastures being converted to the wonders of Irish produce and will be doing his bit this week at the Salone del Gusto, in Turin, putting in a stint on the Bord Bia-organised Ireland stand featuring some of our utterly splendid raw milk cheeses. This biennial event is the Slow Food movement’s equivalent of Glastonbury, Knock and Christmas all rolled into one. And it is in this spirit that he welcomes news of two events taking place in Dublin. First up, Fresh —The Good Food Market at Smithfield Market will be showcasing Irish produce at their Smithfield Market store (Nov 1) featuring produce from all four provinces as well as a selection of our national speciality producers on hand to meet and greet. Then, gastronomical temple Fallon & Byrne host their evening Christmas Extravaganza (Nov 8) — meet producers, sample wares and start making pressie lists from over 50 seasonal products and 25 fine wines along with demos from the F&B in-house chefs, as well as the wondrous Diana Henry, signing copies of her new cookbook, Salt Sugar Smoke.


The Menu has received welcome news of the re-emergence of an old favourite, Christine Girault, formerly proprietor of Sugar café in Cork city. Christine has opened a vintage tearoom (Thurs-Sun, 12-5pm) at The House of Franc at Glanworth Mill, offering afternoon tea with a French twist, half savoury, half sweet — and The Menu can personally vouch for Christine’s very fine line in sweet stuff. And speaking of old favourites —how could The Menu allow October to pass without noting the 20th birthday of Bia Blasta café, on Cork’s Douglas St, a regular Saturday morning haunt back when The Menu dwelt deep in the heart of the city.


The Menu can think of few winter pleasures greater than standing at the bar in Blair’s Inn, in Cloghroe, watching a pint of Dungarvan Black Rock stout settling before repairing to his table by the fire to put on a spot of the old nosebag. And when that nosebag is a five-course dinner (Oct 31) paired with wines from Languedoc with Meredith Hyslop from Chateau Lascaux acting as host, well, winter has never been so damned welcome.



The Menu has a quandary, torn between two new loves. Specifically, legendary smoker Frank Hederman’s latest offerings, a smoked sundried tomato tapenade and a smoked salmon crush. The former, a piquant and, yes, smoky offering formed a heavenly match with beef carpaccio but it is the sheer airiness of the smoked salmon crush that enthrals The Menu — crème fraiche replaces butter as one of the primary ingredients but horseradish and dill ensure the palate party proceeds apace.


Smithwick’s Pale Ale 500ml 4.5% €2.49

The choice of beer in your local off licence or supermarket has changed utterly from just a few years ago. The big brands are surrounded by craft beers from Cork, Belfast and elsewhere that are selling themselves on quality and taste. Smithwicks Pale Ale is an attempt to tap into this growing market. While not as packed with flavour as its micro-brew competitors this is made with (high quality) Amarillo hops and is a good introduction to pale ale with good hop aromas and a mildly spicy finish.


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