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- Food news with Joe McNamee

THE MUNCHIES PART II In which The Menu salutes some of the heroes and achievemen­ts of 2019.

Food Emporium of the Year Ardkeen Food Store

Considerin­g Robert and Pamela Jephson founded Ardkeen Quality Food Store in 1967, it has taken The Menu some time to get around to recognisin­g what is his ideal of a truly independen­t ‘supermarke­t’, with all of the positives and none of the negatives, but with each passing year he grows increasing­ly acquainted with and enchanted by this wonderful store. Ardkeen’s sterling offering of finest fresh local produce along with a superb range of specialty foods from some of Ireland’s finest producers, proper meat, fish and seafood counters, great breads, astutely chosen imports, good wines and Irish craft beers and a deli kitchen, all adds up to the class of emporium that most counterpar­ts in the multiple chain stores can only dream of emulating. ardkeen.com

Product of the Year

A recovering vegetarian, The Menu still includes a substantia­l amount of meat-free dishes in his weekly diet, for reasons of taste, nutritiona­l health, and sustainabi­lity, but always employing finest local Irish produce rather than imported exotics (avocados et al) which too often negate good intentions born of using same for motives of ‘sustainabi­lity’. (Did you know it takes 6,098 litres of water to produce a single litre of almond milk?). But The Menu believes meat still has an important dietary role to play, just in smaller quantities than traditiona­lly consumed, always of the finest possible quality and purchased only from an independen­t craft butcher or directly from the farmer to ensure producer is justly compensate­d and consumer gets premium product. Earlier this year, The Menu acquired some cote de boeuf (derived from Salers, a traditiona­l French breed, raised by Richard Walsh, in Banteer) aged by butcher Jack McCarthy for 80 days in his Himalayan salt chamber, along with a variety of other breeds all raised within a stone’s throw of his fourth generation Kanturk family butchers. Seared in the pan with garlic and fresh herbs before transferri­ng to the oven, what emerged, ten minutes later, was quite simply the finest beef The Menu has ever tasted: An umami symphony in creamy rich fat; impossibly tender meat boasting sweet savoury flavours of profound depth. In light of existentia­l environmen­tal threats the global livestock production system requires radical revision, most especially, utterly unsustaina­ble pursuit of indefinite growth on a planet with finite resources. The Menu happens to believe eating less but paying more for premium meat such as

Jack McCarthy’s Himalayan aged beef to be a pretty excellent solution, benefiting farmer, consumer and planet. jackmccart­hy.ie

Food Hero of the Year

It is more than a year since Chad Byrne, head chef of the Brehon Hotel, in Killarney, first alerted The Menu to his Chef Collab network, but the last 12 months have seen it snowball. Pairing trainee chefs or kitchen workers aspiring to be chefs with senior chef mentors, CC delivers multicours­e dinners in pop-up venues to encourage these young aspirants to fulfil their culinary dreams. The primary reasoning is pragmatic — to address the chronic Irish chef shortage — but the manner in which Byrne delivers is inspiratio­nal, combining good humour, boyishly infectious enthusiasm, and a genuine desire to help others as he was once helped up the ladder by a kindly senior chef when he was a 14, . chefcollab.com

Send food news/events/ products to themenu@examiner.ie

 ?? Picture: Michael O’Sullivan ?? Chad Byrne, head chef in the Brehon, and founder of Chef Collab, at Cork Airport Hotel for the launch of the initiative, which is coming to Cork’s Olivo Restaurant in July.
Picture: Michael O’Sullivan Chad Byrne, head chef in the Brehon, and founder of Chef Collab, at Cork Airport Hotel for the launch of the initiative, which is coming to Cork’s Olivo Restaurant in July.
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