New urban market garden in Cork; and see the dawn choir at Longueville House

The menu timed its arrival perfectly the other week to miss all the hard work and show up as the arc was practically linked to the Cork Urban Soil Project’s magnificent effort to create an urban market garden. It is based out of the Marina Business Park headquarters of one of Ireland’s most progressive food companies, My Goodness Foods. It uses soil made from collecting months of compostable food waste and converted packaging in a giant anaerobic digester – a process that takes just a few weeks, from waste to soil.

The menu promises to provide more detail in the near future as this is the type of initiative that should be replicated nationally, given that around 60% of Irish food waste still ends up in landfill.

Dawn Chorus at Longueville House

Longueville House returns with its annual Dawn Chorus weekend package, combining the beautiful natural world with fine dining.

Longueville House in North Cork is a heartwarming treasure and is one of the original and finest Irish country houses that changed the landscape of Irish hospitality forever.

The 11th annual Dawn Chorus Walk offers a great opportunity to experience its charms, including a 4.5-hour walk through the 400-acre estate guided by ornithologist Calvin Jones.

The all-inclusive package includes two nights of an always lovely four-course dinner, B&B, and the Dawn Chorus event.

Go bananas for zero waste food products Cream of the Crop

Cream Of The Crop, maker of zero waste food products using excess ingredients that would otherwise end up in landfill, has partnered with Fyffes. Each month, Fyffes will donate up to two tonnes of perfectly ripe but discarded bananas (which Fyffes would have otherwise converted into biofuel) – these bananas are perfectly fine other than meeting the supermarkets’ “rigorous specification criteria”.

The retail giants’ ‘specification criteria’ are, of course, the cause of far too much global food waste each year, as products are rejected for being too ‘ugly’. Giselle Makinde’s pioneering business, Cream of the Crop, aims to save 24 tonnes of food waste each year that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

To achieve this year’s ambitious goals, Giselle launched a crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter.com (until June 16) to raise €14,500 — Bananitas: Made With Surplus Bananas.

This is to help with the purchase of specialized equipment and the launch of a brand new zero-waste snack, Bananitas, healthy dried banana bites coated in 70% dark chocolate, which will be available for delivery in all the countries.

Farewell to Square Table in Blarney

Menu was far from the only one to feel huge disappointment upon learning that Blarney’s Square Table was closing its doors for good, due to unfortunate personal circumstances.

Sisters Patricia and Martina Cronin ran this charming little venue on a corner of Blarney Village Square.

Tricia ran past the house with such charm and poise, it was like you were welcomed into her own home and in many ways you were.

In the kitchen, Tricia’s twin, Martina, was a veteran of three very fine kitchens (Ciaran Scully’s Bayview, Ross Lewis’ Chapter One and Graham Neville). Martina has learned well from her three mentors, sourcing superbly, always using locally sourced seasonal produce and delivering understated but utterly delicious dishes to the plate.

They’re ending now, including a commendable offer to redeem some outstanding gift certificates and while The Menu wishes them well in the immediate future, it also can’t help but think the Cronin sisters haven’t completely finished and sincerely hope that they will be able to stage an ‘encore’ in the years to come.

Well-deserved honors for Indie Füde online food

Laura Bradley and Johnny McDowell of Indie Fude.
Laura Bradley and Johnny McDowell of Indie Fude.

The Menu recalls receiving communications from Indie Füde, a Belfast-based online catering start-up in 2014 when it was taking its first steps in spreading the food gospel north of the border. So to see them now crowned Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion for 2022 is an indication of the superb performance of business partners Laura Bradley and Johnny McDowell over the years to promote the best of independent Irish food producers, the same people who nominate the Producer’s Champion each year.

The duo have been so successful that in 2018 they moved to larger retail premises and in 2020 opened The Cheese Edition, dedicated to the best of Irish farmhouse cheese. They now stock over 700 independent Irish specialty food items and continue with a huge online offering to boot.

THE DISH OF THE DAY

Menu and its offspring are more fond of a cup of hot chocolate on cold winter nights and almost equally fond of a cup of hot chocolate on hot summer nights. Dublin-based Spoond has a very tasty little kit, offering the two hot chocolates from Irish-Japanese young lady Emi Takakura.

This week's Table Menu favourite, Spound Hot Chocolate, is also available in very becoming gift sets, including very attractive ceramic hot chocolate mugs.
This week’s Table Menu favourite, Spound Hot Chocolate, is also available in very becoming gift sets, including very attractive ceramic hot chocolate mugs.

Malted milk chocolate is a real pleasure for the youngest, a simple sweetness; while the dark milk chocolate has just a bit more bite and both have a hint of salt to amp up the flavors. Favorite menu option was to mix the two evenly, then top with chocolate shavings and whipped cream.

The kit comes with two cute little ceramic cups in which to serve a mini-hit of chocolate treats, but The Menu has instead relegated them to espresso functions for those who, in their good sense, might limit themselves to one serving. so ridiculous of Spoond!

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