John & Sally McKenna’s Guides have passed the last quarter of a century gently if very assuredly leading Irish diners to some of the finest troughs in the land and the latest tome from the stable, the third edition of Where to Eat & Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way (Estragon Press), maintains the same impossibly high standards.
Commencing in Kinsale, the WAW heads down through the wilds of West Cork and Kerry before gradually wending its way up the west coast through Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, eventually finishing in the wonderful city of Derry where The Menu enjoyed many a skite in days gone by.
While Cork has long enjoyed a reputation for epicurean excellence on a variety of levels, it is the recent emergence of the West that ensures this mighty little tome will keep the nosebag sublimely stocked and the noggin rested on the finest pillows for the entire duration of your journeying through what surely must be a global hotspot in the gorgeousness stakes. www.guides.ie
A rather hectic weekend this, with the Westport Food Festival (www.westportfoodfestival.ie, until June 26) flying the food flag in the west and the World Barista Championship and the World Brewers Cup both to be decided today at the World of Coffee 2016 (www.worldofcoffee-Dublin.com) in the RDS but those with plans already in place might want to enter a few more local dates in the diary as two of Cork’s finer pubs kick up a little market action.
Now a splendid music venue, Coughlan’s, was once The Menu’s local when he lived on wonderful Douglas Street, what is now a ‘Temple of Tunes’, then a sterling ‘local pub’ visible from his bedroom window and they host a Midsummer Market (July 2), a pop-up flea market running all day with plenty of local edible options along with vintage clothing, jewellery, fashion, vinyl and a variety of retro gadgets and gear, the event finally culminating in a gin cocktail hour followed by live music (www.coughlans.ie).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the river in The Friary, now under the aegis of Mike Darcy, Leeside’s ‘Prince of Parties’, something similar is afoot with the Friary Festival (June 30-July4).
Formerly the North Gate Tavern, atop which The Menu and his comrades in one of history’s lesser hymned jazz-flu pop combos rehearsed to little or no avail some 30 years ago, Darcy’s arrival has injected serious new life into this splendid little hostelry at the bottom of Shandon Street and the festival will feature some of Cork’s finest including tastings from Eight Degrees Brewing, Mountain Man and St Patrick’s Distillery, from Douglas, while eats come from Cool Beans and David’s Chocolatiers. (www.facebook.com/TheFriary)
The Menu has a new party piece that appears to work equally well on all ages, from exceedingly minor to especially major.
It involves Buffalo Koftas, made by English Market butcher Eoin O’Mahony using Irish Buffalo meat, reared near Macroom.
The kofta is a class of greatly elongated meatball skewered on a stick, not unlike a meat ‘popsicle’ in presentation.
The Menu takes same and places it on his charcoal grill.
The Menu regularly turns and bastes said kofta until the exterior is browned, carmelised, the interior, a pinker hue.
The Menu administers cooked kofta in warmed flatbread with homemade yoghurt and garden leaves.
He watches with amusement as curious subject takes a first tentative bite and chews, savouring deeply flavoursome, deliciously textured meat, judiciously spiced with a jouncy chilli kick.
Realisation dawning, remainder is finished with indecent haste and aforementioned subject takes to jumping through moon, howling at hoops and doing whatever else it takes to persuade The Menu to render unto them another of these impossibly addictive buffalo ‘popsicles’.
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