If ever there was a time to visit the Garden County of Wicklow, then it is in early November as woodlands and forest swap summer green for the unspeakably beautiful autumnal palette, one of nature’s finest shows and a most exquisite closing act to the wild food foraging season.
It is, however, the beginning of the wild game season so perfectly timed for the 2014 Wild & Slow Festival (Nov 8/9), Slow Food Ireland’s biennial celebration of Irish wild game, wild foraged foods and our traditional wild food heritage, all taking place in the delightful Macreddin Village, including myriad Wild Food Stalls at the street market and plenty of educational Wild Foods masterclasses. www.wildandslow.com
Learn how to rear a pig
The indefatigable Carmel Somers of Good Things Café, in Durrus has a few places remaining on her 3-Day Practical Pig Class (Nov 7-9). Having reared two pigs, Somers will be covering classic charcuterie. In a linked event, Gubbeen’s Fingal Ferguson will be slow cooking over the pit fire, Food By The Fire (Nov 8), and all attendees will be allowed to bring a guest along to ‘dinner’ ( www.thegoodthingscafe.com ). Chocolate fanatics would do well to head to Kilkenny for another splendid Bia Beag night (Nov 8) when chocolatiers Mary (Truffle Fairy) and Karen (Bean & Goose) are joined by chocolate maker Lyss (Blyss Chocolate, Germany) for a talk and tasting demo ( www.biabeag.com ). The Menu always enjoys stopping by The Roughty Foodie in Cork’s English Market for a natter with proprietor Margo and to note any new additions to her repertoire of fine local Irish produce. With free tastings every Saturday throughout November, keep an eye out for Heavenly Preserves and their Spiced Plum Chutney.
Mouth-watering Rhone wine prize
The Menu is truly ecumenical in his embrace of the fruits of the vine but confesses to an especial grá for wines from the Rhone Valley, so is most excited by the prospect of winning a trip to the Rhone Valley for the 2015 Découvertes wine fair. The Big Rhone Wine Quiz (Nov 3), in Medley, is part of Rhone Wine Week, and the winning team of four receives a five-day trip, including flights and accommodation, and car hire (www.RhoneWineWeekIreland.com). Mitchelstown’s Eight Degrees Brewing Co have just returned from Mauritius where they acquired some top German brewing kit which should go a long way to making them one of the largest independent Irish craft breweries and they are offering quaffers of fine Irish craft beer the chance to join a crowd-funding drive through Linked finance. www.eightdegrees.ie
As always, The Menu’s Christmas cheese board shall host a mindboggling array of fine Irish farmhouse cheeses with a very special place for one of the finest Irish cheeses, Glebe Brethan, a gruyere-style cheese that scooped Gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2006. It will be far from the first time it has graced The Menu’s table but, poignantly, it shall be the last because its creator, David Tiernan, passed away and the mature Glebe Brethan coming on to the market for Christmas is the very end of any remaining stock as the Tiernan family chose to discontinue production. A stunning creation, The Menu will ensure all guests receive their share and as little mouthfuls of tingling spice dissolve in the mouth to a sumptuous creamy, nutty caramel, he shall raise a glass of good port and toast Glebe Brethan and its creator, David, one last time. www.glebebrethan.com
Beer of the week: N17 Rye Ale, 5% ABV, 500ml — €3.49
Stockists: Cases, Galway; Bradleys, North Main St, Bierhaus, Cork; Baggot Street Wines, McHughs, Independents
Tuam’s N17 Brewery is the fourth in County Galway by my count. Founded by Industrial Chemist Sarah Roarty, this fine Rye ale is a confident start and her award-winning Oatmeal Stout will be available soon. Sustainability is a key philosophy and the spent grain was used for doggy treats, fish farms and a range of useful products.
While most rye beers these days are hop-driven this allows the malt to shine. Aromas of butterscotch and roasted malt with a rounded palate and a relatively subtle dollop of hops and spiciness on the finish.
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