Food news - Aoife Carrigy: A Taste of the Hedgerows
We're well into foraging season, with the late spring wild garlic making way for the early summer elderflower blossom. If you're after a taste of the hedgerows, many restaurants are making great use of nature's seasonal offerings. In Galway, Aniar, Kai, Loam and Ard Bia are all good hunting grounds. Dublin has Bang Café where head chef Niall O'Sullivan is a co-founder of Nadúr Collective, a collaboration between three chefs and wild food enthusiasts. And at Wicklow's Brooklodge Hotel, the menu at the Strawberry Tree restaurant features wild food year-round thanks to an impressive pantry of preserved pickings replenished through the seasons.
If you'd like to try your own hand at foraging, Brooklodge (above) also offers a one-day wild food masterclass that is accessible, entertaining and delicious. Hotelier Evan Doyle is co-author of the excellent Wild Foods books (with food writer Biddy White-Lennon) and knows his stuff. After a tour of the kitchens, bakery and wild food pantry with Evan and his chefs, you'll learn how to identify, gather, cook and preserve seasonal wild foods throughout the year before setting out on a gentle hedgerow forage with the restaurant's resident forager. The day costs €95 pp and includes a specially prepared two-course lunch in the Waterside Lounge. Upcoming dates include Tuesday May 24 with further dates in June and July. (brooklodge.com)
Alternatively, forager Mary Bulfin offers wild food workshops in Offaly. On Saturday June 11, she will focus on early summer flowers and fungi (€40 pp, or €30 early bird offer if you book and pay by tomorrow, see wildfoodmary.wordpress.com). She also produces a gorgeous Wild Beech Leaf Liqueur that is available to buy in Dublin's Celtic Whiskey Shop - perfect for sipping on while you browse @NadurCollective's Twitter feed for inspiring shots of wild fennel and sea beet, or check out their guide to Dublin foraging at visitdublin.com/foraging-in-dublin.
Falling Apple Medium Gravity Cider
€3.69, 500ml, 5pc ABV, from good off-licences
Bring on the summer with this medium cider, with its refreshing blend of sweet and dry apple flavours. Produced by the Carlow Brewing Company in the Barrow Valley with Irish apples, it's based on Armagh Bramley apples blended with Michelin and Dabinett cider apples and nearly a dozen varieties of eating apples for a little sweetness and complexity. A touch of tannic grip keeps things food-friendly: perfect for pairing with slow-cooked pulled pork or juicy bangers fresh off the barbecue.
GET YOUR GOAT
The annual Foxford Goat Fair takes place in Mayo on Monday (May 16). Established back in 1683 for buying and selling goats, it's now the place to pick up anything from a horse to a loaf of freshly baked bread. But if it's goat meat you're after, you can catch the Antrim-based Broughgammon Farm at Temple Bar Market in Dublin every Saturday. They'll sell you fresh cuts of kid goat to cook up at home, or serve you their best-selling Billy Burger.
HIP HIP HOORAY!
The Cookbook Café in Glasthule, Co Dublin celebrated its first birthday last weekend. Not every restaurant can say they've fed Bono, Edge, Gavin Friday, Marian Keyes, Cillian Murphy and Kevin Thornton in their first year of business. But then The Cookbook Café isn't your average restaurant.
Chef-owner Audrey McDonald worked as a private chef to the rich and famous before deciding to open her own joint, with a menu inspired by her favourite cookbooks. Expect treats from Thomasina Miers' cookbooks, Wahaca and Chilli Notes, as well as inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver and other popular food writers.
Music at the restaurant is provided by her husband, the Newstalk presenter and former Something Happens front man, Tom Dunne, who compiles the playlists as well as spinning tunes for their weekly Vinyl Brunch on Sundays and the newly introduced Wineyl Fridays. These early evening sessions are dedicated to favourite albums, with next Friday (May 20) earmarked to honour the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album on its 50th anniversary. Tom is often joined by guest DJs such as Steve Wall of The Stunning and diners are welcome to bring along their own vinyl too. cookbookcafe.ie