Autumn Harvest Feast at Camus Farm Field Kitchen (reviewed very positively elsewhere in these pages this weekend) is a Guest Chef weekend (Oct 8, 9 and 10) at a wonderful West Cork hospitality venue sited on an entirely self-sustaining organic farm. This farm sports a splendid purpose-built dining room with open kitchen. The first in a series kicks off with former Irish Masterchef winner and West Cork favourite, Diana Dodog, who will use finest produce from the farm, including Camus Farm 100% organic grass-fed 30-day-aged Dexter beef, supplemented by other premium local organic produce to produce a splendid seasonal feast. (Fri & Sat, open at 6pm, dine at 7pm; Sunday lunch, open noon, dine at 1pm).
While not for a moment casting aspersions on any who understandably felt compelled to jet off to foreign climes, The Menu played it safe this year and remained on the Oul Sod. But given half a chance he would have relished the opportunity visit Spain — one of his most favourite countries in which to eat and drink. Thankfully, however, Spain is ‘coming to him’, in fact, to the entire country with the return of Spanish Food & Wine Week (Oct 4-10) taking place in restaurants, bars and shops around the country with a series of informative, entertaining and always delicious wine tastings and dinners nationwide: with our own Leslie Williams hosting wine dinners in The Mustard Seed, in Ballingarry, Co Limerick, and in Solas, in Dingle, Co Kerry.
For those who would like to bring Spain right into their homes, The Nude Wine Co. hosts a virtual wine course, ‘The Secrets of Spain’ (Oct 8).
The very popular ELY online tastings runs throughout the week, supplying three full bottles delivered to your door for shared tastings on a variety of Spanish themes with friends with the option of adding Irish Charcuterie, Farmhouse cheese and ELY’s famous home-made chutney to complement wine choices.
The Eatyard team’s Sunday Sessions in Pot Duggan’s in Ennistymon in beautifully restored 19th-century barns continue with guest chef Caitlin Ruth (Oct 3), one of West Cork and Ireland’s most intuitive and gifted cooks, who will furnish a menu of finest local fare from West Cork. Designed to be convivial dining experiences, tickets are sold in for tables of six only at €55pp, so time to round up your posse and head west!
James Whelan Butchers is launching, through the JWB Butchers Academy, three-year Butcher Apprenticeship, with structured QQI Level 5 training and qualifications — a very fine prospect for any recent leaving cert graduates interested in a career in the Irish food sector and pondering their next move, most especially one that allows them to earn while they learn. Offering a hands-on practical programme with some of Ireland’s leading master butchers, graduates will be offered positions in James Whelan Butchers’ outlets around the country, with the prospect of then progressing into management roles or product and business development.
jameswhelanbutchers.com or email email@example.com
It is rare enough to find genuine innovation on the retail shelves in that space reserved for condiments, relishes and sauces, for that section of the marketplace is heavily overloaded with too many tired revisitations of overly familiar old tropes.
Which explains The Menu’s current giddy, even febrile demeanour, for he gets most worked up indeed whenever he chances upon that rare beast, a genuine culinary innovator such as Corkman Sean Cotter, who is not only offering something entirely new to the Irish market with his range of Savage Sauces, but doing so with real epicurean aplomb.
The three sauces in the range are all made in small batches from natural ingredients and with no preservatives, meaning they are imbued with ‘life’ and energy.
blends soy sauce with orange and pineapple juices and honey for a salty, fruity sweetness, tart apple cider vinegar cuts through and lifts while a schichimi spice mix and pickled ginger add a peppery, chilli finish, all making for a delicious glaze for grilled fish and meats, a simple yet sublime addition to plain rice and blanched vegetables, delightful as an Asian salad dressing and The Menu has even used it as a glaze on grilled pineapple, as a savoury side.
is an absolute delight, a rather ‘industrial’ version of this Korean classic having become a guilty pleasure for many an Irish punter over the last decade, so this infinitely superior take, is bliss, balanced profile of sweet and spicy garlic, chilli and yellow pepper but what truly elevates is the lactic funkiness that comes from fermenting the chillis, adding a grace note missing from most other condiments on Irish shelves.
Best of all, to The Menu’s mind, is, which blends miso paste with Irish apple cider vinegar, orange juice, honey, pickled ginger and spices, resulting in a sweet citric fruit mouthful of umami, that had The Menu consuming it ‘naked’ by the spoonful as he pondered various potential applications. Naturally, it would gild all manner of vegetables, seafood and other white meats, especially good with a salad of crisp bitter greens and fried pork, and The Menu has had surprising success adding it to a caramel sauce and as a chocolate truffle flavouring. Then he pauses in his reverie to spoon yet another spoonful into his mouth. Instagram: @Savage.Sauces