The splendid Taste of West Cork food festival (Sept 4-13) rolls around once more with yet another celebration of the food culture of Ireland’s original larder and the mighty programme is more ambitious than ever, 140+ events spanning 32 towns and villages, along with eight islands, throughout West Cork.
Visiting chefs include Derry Clarke, JP McMahon and Kevin Aherne, while The Menu himself will be doing his fancy fry-up thing for a tasting supper of fine West Cork produce in the Uillinn Gallery in Skibbereen.
A rare cookbook workshop collaboration between Urru, in Bandon, and Skibbereen’s Time Traveller bookshop (Sept 5) invites you to bring along any culinary treasures, including old handwritten recipes to be appraised by the experts.
A sustainable farming conference (From Irish Cow to International Table) and the Belling Forum conference on achieving PDO/PGI designations to protect the integrity of unique local food products. are two timely events for any with serious concerns for the future of Irish food and farming.
There’s also a closing day market in the festival’s Skibbereen HQ. www.atasteofwestcork.com
CRAFT CIDER MAKES A WELCOME RETURN
The recent craft beer revolution has seen the accompanying return of superb craft cider (Longueville, Stonewell, Highbank, Craigies, to name a few), a tradition in Ireland stretching back centuries, and it pairs most splendidly with fine Irish food so the inaugural Irish Cider & Food Day (Sept 3) is promising indeed.
It takes place throughout the country, including: La Pigalle, on Cork’s Barrack St; Arundel’s on the Pier, in Ahakista; Longueville House (producers of their own fine cider); and The Cornstore and the Strand Hotel in Limerick. www.greatirishbeverages.com
PERMACULTURE TALK AT UCC
Internationally-renowned permaculture educator Warren Brush, gives a permaculture course (Sept 4-6) at The Hollies, in Enniskeane, and the inspirational speaker also gives a free talk (Sept 3) in UCC Boole 1 Lecture Theatre ( www.thehollies.ie ).
Another route for would-be chefs arrives with the announcement of 16 places on a fully certified professional culinary course in Kilkenny’s The School of Food, in gorgeous Thomastown, with admission granted on an interview basis ( www.schooloffood.ie ).
Dublin’s Cliff Townhouse kicks off its Oyster Festival (throughout Sept) with an Oyster Opening Competition with competitions for the general public on the evening, prizes including a stay in the venue’s sister hotel, in Ardmore ( www.theclifftownhouse.com ).
Beginning with a splendid base ingredient — delicious milk from grass-fed cows — Irish butter is a world-class product, easily seeing off international competitors and even some of the industrially-produced offerings more than hold their own.
But to The Menu, butter is more than a foodstuff; it is a fundamental life-force. So, when he happened upon Cuinneog Irish Farmhouse Country Butter, long-forgotten synapses began spluttering into life once more, as he was drawn back to the creamy golden slabs of childhood memory.
Unsurprisingly, Cuinneog passes the basic taste tests (melting over floury new potatoes; dripping through the potholes of toasted sourdough bread) but The Menu finds himself eating little shavings entirely on their own, relishing the heft of a deep, dense butter lightened by a lovely fresh lactic undertow and the merest hint of salt. www.cuinneog.com
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