The Menu: Reviewing the yea

Best of the Specials

It’s that time when a body takes stock of the year just passed; it being the tail end of The Menu’s incredible inaugural year, he finds himself taking more stock than an army cook’s chicken soup. So, sparking up a Cuban cigar with yet another alteration bill from his tailor, he presents the best of the ‘Specials’.

Ballyhoura Mushrooms whom The Menu espied at a tiny table on the community stall at Mahon Point Farmer’s Market last spring on their very first public outing have, since then, gone from strength to strength, picking up accolades and awards, their exquisite speciality mushrooms now served up in some of the finest restaurants in the land. The Menu: “A cornucopia of fungal foodstuffs: oysters, sleek as seals; nutty brown shiitakes; sumptuous marinaded mushrooms; the chef’s latest secret weapon, porcini dust; and regular foraged curiosities such as wood sorrel or even morels.” He singled out their Mushroom Ketchup for further attention: “A condiment made from shiitake mushrooms and salt, it is liquid umami, a deep, tawny tang and the secret savoury addition finessing all manner of dishes in The Menu’s kitchen of late.” www.ballyhouramushrooms.ie

On first sampling Treat Petite’s luscious confectionery, The Menu wrote that his “eternal quest for the perfect macaroon near ended on first nibble of Treat Petite’s Orange Macaron (containing tonka bean, milk chocolate, vanilla and satsuma) an exquisite feather-light macaron with stunning tonka bean flavour tying a bow on the whole thing.” www.facebook.com/treatpetite

Mark Kingston of Golden Bean Coffee produces very, very special coffee. The Menu wrote: “One of the finest roasters in the country… with an uncanny instinct for knowing when perfection has been achieved and to stop right there. … There are no over-roasted oral assailants to be found in the Golden Bean stable, rather light, nutty/fruity nectars with sublimely judged acidity and sumptuous chocolate and caramel tones.”

Despite such an august body as The Menu weighing in with lavish praise of Mr Petterson’s Raspberry Vinegar, it continues to maintain a low profile, largely a secret pleasure of the culinary cogniscenti. The Menu: “Mr Petterson’s syrupy nectar, becoming tartness leavened with a soaring raspberry liftoff, perfectly enhances myriad dishes from cheeses to meats to salads and even bellinis.” www.mrpettersens.com

Along with air, water and fine Burgundy, The Menu considers garlic one of the absolute necessities for his continued existence, so ranked his discovery of Ireland’s first garlic farmers, West Cork Garlic, “up there with Alexander Fleming leaving the lid off the jamjar” going on to write: “the finest garlic he has ever consumed, Iberian Wight, Early Purple Wight and Solent Wight, impossibly full of flavour and with a bite that knows exactly when to stop — and all of it local, from West Cork Garlic, in Enniskeane!” www.westcorkgarlic.com

Upon using Dunany Organic Flours, The Menu’s usual brown bread became “…a different beast entirely, nutty, golden-brown crust yet inside, sweet, rich bread, firm yet so coyly yielding, it could pass as a pillow.” Happy New Year!


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