The menu: Start-up stalls in the English Market, Cork

English Market: short-term start-up stalls are available.

The Menu recalls a time, a few decades ago, when the English Market was on its uppers, seemingly in terminal decline. 

Some years after that, a fresh influx of traders, in particular Toby Simmonds (Real Olive Co), Sean Calder-Potts (Iago), Isabelle Sheridan (On the Pig’s Back) and sisters Maróg O’Brien and Kay Harte (Farmgate Café), gave a new lease of life to the venerable institution.

Working nearby as a chef, The Menu’s daily shopping expeditions took on a different, and most inspiring dimension. 

The influx was to prove the beginning of the English Market’s present incarnation as one of the flagships of the modern Irish food movement.

Nothing ever remains the same, however, and the latest reinvention involves a ‘start-up stall’, a specially designed unit on short-term offer, for fixed periods, to new, local, innovative food businesses that want to try out their new concepts in a trading environment.

Especially welcome are applications from businesses or enterprises that have a demonstrable commitment to sustainable food practices and local, seasonal produce.

Further details: 


The Menu leaves the job-centre shenanigans to others better-suited, but couldn’t fail to flag an upcoming position with what he considers to be one of the most important new Irish food organisations of recent years: the post is centre manager in the GIY Food Education Centre, GROW HQ, which is set to open in Waterford, in September ( ).

Galway Food Tours host a highly recommended tour (May 5) of the ‘West End’, in the City of Tribes, kicking off in the impossibly fabulous Kai restaurant, where The Menu recently enjoyed an utterly splendid solo meal, and carrying on to a plethora of other fine eateries and watering holes (tickets:  or Sheena on 086-7332885).

Future Farming: What Will Ireland Look Like in 2040?

(May 5) is an intriguing discussion in the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, featuring Café Paradiso chef/proprietor, Denis Cotter, ecology researcher, Dr Jane Stout, and John Muldowney, an inspector from the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 


The Connemara Mussel Festival (April 29-May1) might be small, but it is perfectly formed, and, as well as celebrating the magical mollusc, there will be plenty of family-friendly high jinks to be had, including a chance for children of all ages to marvel at Ella, the world’s smallest cow, a 31-inch-tall Dexter ( ). 

Congrats to Nancy’s Barn, of Ballyliffen, Co Donegal, very worthy winners of a highly competitive, sixth annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off, in Kinsale last Sunday. 

Twenty four secondary school students from around Munster compete in the Apprentice Chef Grand Finale (May 6), at the Institute of Technology Tralee, a competition, supported by Flogas and Failte Ireland, designed to encourage the young students to consider a culinary career ( ).


In the Middle East, the retailing of hummus has to be accompanied by grandiose claims for the innate superiority of one’s own recipe over all other competitors. 

In another lifetime, when The Menu sold his own hummus from a market stall, he gladly abided by tradition, happy to claim his as the best hummus in the world.

By comparison, Anna Lehane, of Anna’s Authentically, says hers is merely the best hummus in Ireland, and even qualifies that with a ‘well, maybe’ — a ‘shrinking violet’ in the hummus world, it seems she is content to leave her creation do the talking for her.

And it does just that, her sublimely balanced nutty concoction alive with texture and taste. 

The confident and deftly handled addition of garam masala to her fusion version bespeaks a willingness to tamper with tradition. 

That could yet see her installed as creator of the best hummus in the world — now that The Menu has relinquished his crown, of course!

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