Food news with Joe McNamee

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Neigh­bourly love

As reg­u­lar read­ers well know, The Menu is never done pros­e­lytis­ing on be­half of farm­ers or coun­try mar­kets as the pri­mary port of call for any smart food shop­per look­ing for the very best of lo­cal, sea­sonal pro­duce while also sup­port­ing the lo­cal com­mu­nity. But he equally ap­pre­ci­ates how dif­fi­cult it can be for many to make it to the mar­kets, op­er­at­ing as they do for a short fixed time each week. So he is de­lighted to bring tid­ings of Neigh­bour­, an on­line or­der­ing ser­vice with a reg­u­lar weekly evening pick-up time from a fixed lo­ca­tion. Es­tab­lished by the in­de­fati­ga­ble Jack ‘Rock­et­man’ Crotty and busi­ness part­ner Martin Poucher, hav­ing ob­served the con­cept in ac­tion in Italy, con­sumers sim­ply or­der and pay on­line by Sun­day from a grad­u­ally grow­ing group of pro­duc­ers of­fer­ing a fine range of veg­eta­bles, fruit, bread, meat, poul­try, con­fec­tionery, craft beer, nat­u­ral wines, and more. Col­lec­tion then takes place on Tues­day evening (5pm-7pm) from Crotty’s new mar­ket yard on Cork’s Bar­rack St. The range of pro­duce avail­able can only grow and any po­ten­tial grower-pro­ducer-sell­ers wish­ing to be­come in­volved are very wel­come in­deed.

Good tid­ings we bring

With No­vem­ber’s pass­ing, the gloves are off and the tin­sel is out of the bag as The Menu fi­nally al­lows first men­tion proper of Christ­mas and some of the en­ter­tain­ment op­tions at the top of his pile: No1 Pery Square Ho­tel, a great Menu favourite, in Limerick’s Geor­gian Quar­ter, of­fer a plethora of Yule­tide op­tions in­clud­ing fes­tive af­ter­noon tea; group Christ­mas lunch menus; Christ­mas Opera Din­ner (Dec 23) and Women’s Christ­mas (Jan 6) at Sash Restau­rant ( Dublin’s ever-pro­gres­sive Body­tonic/Eat­yard snug­gle up un­der the mistle­toe with Yu­le­yard, a heated, cov­ered out­door Christ­mas mar­ket of­fer­ing fab­u­lous food, craft beers, cock­tails, win­ter warm­ers (mulled cider, wine, hot whiskey/port) crafts, and Car­a­van Karaoke for chuck­les and cheer. Ad­mis­sion free (the-eat­ Pem­broke Kilkenny Four-Star ho­tel of­fers a plethora of Christ­mas party pack­ages in the cen­tre of one of Ire­land’s great party towns, rang­ing from bou­tique party fin­ger food to a full four-courser along with group mixol­ogy classes, pre-pran­dial fa­cials/ mas­sages, and an end-of-work party (Dec 21, from 1pm) for any­one lucky enough not to have to clock in over the break (pem­brokek­­fer/christ­mas-newyears).

Fi­nally, Inchy­doney Is­land Lodge & Spa’s Christ­mas pack­ages in­clude a Nol­laig na mBan (Jan 6) spe­cial with af­ter­noon tea, gin cock­tails, and overnight B&B (inchy­doney­is­


While some have sug­gested The Menu is in fact the 21st cen­tury rein­car­na­tion of Win- nie the Pooh, it is not, he trusts, a ref­er­ence to his highly em­brace­able ro­tun­dity but rather to his great ob­ses­sion with honey. In­deed, he even­tu­ally hopes to host a hive or two on his own grand es­tates but for the mo­ment makes do and then some by sub­sist­ing on finest lo­cal Ir­ish honey, just about the best to be found in the world (though con­sumers be­ware as cer­tain ‘Ir­ish’ hon­eys are ac­tu­ally vastly in­fe­rior im­ported stuff). John O’Neill from Bantry is one such lo­cal bee­keeper and The Menu and sev­eral prog­eny re­cently ac­knowl­edged that a jar of Beara Raw Honey from his Adrigole api­ary con­tained, with­out doubt, the most ex­quis­ite honey they have tasted thus far this year. This par­tic­u­lar batch is a ‘high’, clean honey of ex­cep­tional pu­rity and none of the wince-mak­ing sac­cha­rin ex­cesses of the cheap stuff, and while bram­ble flower notes are to the fore, there are also hints of gorse and pos­si­bly even a lit­tle bit of lime blos­som — all in all, a su­perb honey. (email: [email protected])

Pic­ture: Joleen Cronin

Martin Poucher and Jack Crotty, founders of Neigh­bour­food at the Cork City launch in the Ap­ple Mar­ket, Bar­rack St.

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