The Menu has a long and storied history with the venerable former Metropole Hotel in Cork City celebrating 125 years in business this year.
Unsurprisingly, much of this centers around the Cork Jazz Festival, which first saw the light of day within its hallowed walls in 1978, but there have been many other events, including a very fine night at the Cáis National Irish Farmhouse Cheese Awards, most recently. . It was, of course, designed by the father of the late Myrtle Allen, Arthur Hill, and still struts around with all the aplomb befitting the most striking elderly person on Cork’s MacCurtain Street.
The Menu will make a special visit to taste the new cocktail menu launched to celebrate this August anniversary.
Killarney’s hugely impressive hotel operators continue their extraordinary pivot away from the traditional US coach travel market, increasingly offering for the local and domestic market and a more contemporary class of international traveller.
Now it looks like they’re even reaching out to the canine contingent: Café du Parc is offering a Puppy Love Brunch, complete with a puppucino and a locally sourced Irish dog treat for your pooch while you’re seated at the outdoor patio. heated at the intersection where Killarney’s busy main street meets Ireland’s oldest national park, eat your own breakfast, brunch or lunch and watch the world go by.
Despite being one of the world’s most cosmopolitan men, with a passion for travel and sampling the global pantry, The Menu, as regular readers know, maintains an almost entirely hiberno-centric focus when it comes to written in that particular corner of wood and is generally particularly repulsive. to cover import restaurant models arriving on these shores looking to suck up the local dollar, with several disappointing high-profile UK operations of late.
But it must be said that the impending arrival of the Hawksmoor steak restaurant group may well herald an alternative and more welcome operating model, at the very least, improving the game of various national operators.
Co-founder Will Beckett, son of legendary food and drink writer Fiona Beckett, has a real grá for the city of Dublin and he and co-founder Huw Gott have managed to secure a wonderful home in Dublin. former National Bank at 34 College Green.
Hawksmoor’s accolades include being named the #1 Steakhouse in the world and their focus on sustainability and supporting local producers is very genuine (and the Irish supply chain is being built), and having recently become carbon neutral they plan to be Net Zero by 2030 so their opening will be anticipated with keen interest and at the very least it will be good to see such a venerable building receiving some of the TLC the band is for known to lavish in its other premises around the world.
World Chocolate Day will take place next Thursday, July 7 — a rather ridiculous concept in the eyes of The Menu, which has been fussing for years for the creation of the World Year of Chocolate, which will be held at Chez Menu on an annual basis, 365 days a year. But, in the spirit of things, he’s very excited to introduce a relatively new Irish producer, Wicklow-based Nibbed, and their new 200g pure organic cocoa block this week.
It never ceases to amaze how hard times over the years seem to inspire the emergence of new Irish food producers and hospitality businesses and Nibbed is in the same bracket. This is a chocolate bar business founded by aunt-niece duo, chef Lisa Kleiner and Anna O’Sullivan, in 2021 during the pandemic. Nibbed’s Cacao Blocks are classic examples of chocolate as a superfood and are handcrafted in small batches from single-origin cocoa beans that are ethically sourced, fair trade and certified organic.
Cocoa is rich in theobromine, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine but without the nervous effects and is also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants and many minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium, among others, and well-documented research shows it to be a powerful prebiotic. and cardioprotective, and can have a positive impact on blood pressure, mood and concentration.
This cocoa block is truly the real deal made from a Trinitario-Criollo hybrid bean from the Dominican Republic and what’s more, every taste offers a compelling masterclass in the true taste of real chocolate, as it is completely free of of one of the additives. (e.g. sugar, dairy, soy, etc.), even the “good” ones that turn “raw” chocolate into the more familiar sweet confection. (For a simple experiment, break off a piece of the Nibbed chocolate bar and put it in your mouth with a little sugar and you’ll start to feel the “chocolate” as you probably know it.)
100% cocoa can be too drying, even powdery on the palate, but it’s very nice, bright, creamy and with smoky notes of dark cherry and a slight saltiness, but it really starts to make sense once The Menu introduced it into the laboratory and manages to concoct various modes of consumption.
It makes quite a delicious hot chocolate, not too cloying and was very smart grated over a lemon pie, but most intriguing of all was a ‘mole’ or salty chocolate sauce.
It was not until the 16th century that sugar was added to chocolate; before that, for thousands of years, cocoa was considered a gift from the gods and eaten as a salty food. So the menu did a delicious Mexican-inspired mole with chicken broth and chipotle peppers that was only exquisite when served with grilled chicken. .