Dishing Up the Nosebag at A Taste of West Cork Food Festival 2015

Cold Smoked Loin of Tuna, Lemon Basil Aioli; Smoked Mackerel, Wasabi Crème Fraiche; Gin Gimlet Scallops, Cucumber Risotto, Pickled Samphire. (Photo: Trish Deseine)

It has taken The Swashbuachaill some weeks to recover from his recent foray back into the professional culinary world when he presented a nine-course menu in the magnificent surroundings of Uillinn, home of the West Cork Arts Centre, in Skibbereen, as part of the Taste of West Cork food festival. He was delighted and honoured to be invited by chairperson Helen Collins and the festival team to participate in this wonderful celebration of some of the finest food to be found anywhere in the world and it was billed as ‘The Menu Cooks The Menu” a nod to his epicurean alter ego and the title of his weekly food column, The Menu, in The Irish Examiner, the idea being to showcase some of the very splendid Irish produce he features each week in the aforementioned publication.

The main gallery, West Cork Arts Centre, ‘dining hall’ for the night

Every ‘guest chef’ visiting the festival is partnered with a ‘hometown’ restaurant to provide logistical support but The Swashbuachaill/Menu truly lucked out in being paired with Chef Siobhan O’Callaghan, the proprietor, along with her husband, Anthony Boyle, of Kalbo’s Restaurant and Kalbo’s at The Uillinn, both in Skibbereen, the latter a coffee dock and sandwich and snack bar with a lovely courtyard, attached to the arts centre. Siobhan and Anthony (also a local organic farmer at Thornhill Organic Farm) have a passion and commitment to the very finest Irish produce that mirrors The Swashbuachaill’s own and it truly was a pleasure to work with them.

 Photo: Anne Minihane.
The Swashbuachaill and Siobhan O’Callaghan with assembled guests on the night. Photo: Anne Minihane

There is no kitchen in Kalbo’s at the Uillinn so The Swashbuachaill was compelled to do the bulk of the prep work and advance cooking in his secret lair further West on Mizen Peninsula and then on the day itself, utilise a single portable induction hob so all fare served was at ‘ambient’ temperature (in other words, room temperature) but that is not to say it was easy to dish up. In fact, it would have been impossible without Siobhan assuming command of all front of house duties, beginning by converting the admittedly incredible main gallery into an even more wonderful dining hall for the evening and then marshalling her superb Kalbo’s crew (Denise Lyons, John Allan, Megels Hurden and Karen Flavin) into a seamless team on the night, not only delivering nine courses to the 30 guests but also pitching in with the plating up.

It also behooves The Swashbuachaill/Menu to pay tribute to Ann Davoren and the staff of the West Cork Arts Centre for allowing their wonderful space to be converted into an impromptu restaurant. (Furthermore, we ‘gatecrashed’ a superb Charlie Tyrell exhibition, his splendid paintings displayed all around the dining area.)

No dogs playing snooker or little boys crying on the walls for The Swashbuachaill; nothing less than the splendid Charlie Tyrell, please

Finally, this event simply would not have happened without the producers themselves, nearly every last one from Cork county, and their magnificent produce shone forth in every dish. (All are listed below, along with the menu served up on the night.) Much of it was procured the day before at the very excellent Skibbereen Farmer’s Market and, all in all, The Swashbuachaill/Menu cannot thank them enough for their support.

The next such culinary adventure takes place in the very lovely L’Atitude 51 wine café (formerly The Lobby Bar), on Union Quay, in Cork city, where The Swashbuachaill/Menu will once again serve up a seasonal menu of tasting dishes while his journalistic compadre, Leslie Williams, erstwhile Irish Examiner wine columnist serves up the wines to match. This takes place on November 19th, with all proceeds going to the very splendid Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre, a charity dear to The Swashbuachaill’s heart.

The real heroes on the night: (from left to right) John Allan, Karen Flavin, Megels Hurden, Denis Lyons, Siobhan O’Callaghan

The Menu Cooks the Menu

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

  • The Gloaming Gulp: Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin, Prosecco, Cucumber, Lime, Honey, Mint
  • Miso & Saffron Butter, Sourdough Bread
  • Chicken, Dillisk, Skibbereen Farmer’s Market Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers
  • Cold Smoked Loin of Tuna, Lemon Basil Aioli; Smoked Mackerel, Wasabi Crème Fraiche; Gin Gimlet Scallops, Cucumber Risotto, Pickled Samphire
  • Smoked Duck Breast, Mushrooms, Leaves, Quail’s Egg, Croutons
  • Spiced Beef, Market Vegetables, Tomatoes, Leaves, Elephant Garlic Bagna Cauda, Sourdough Bread
  • Milleens, Sheridan’s Brown Bread Crackers
  • Sweet Geranium Jelly, Almond Sponge, Rhubarb, Custard, Vanilla Ricotta Cream
  • Golden Bean Coffee Finca La Fany (custom-roasted for The Menu)
    Or Kingfisher Teas Moroccan Mint Green Tea, Honey
    & Siobhán’s Drombeg Truffles
  • WINES (with many thanks to Christine Nagle, Western Beverages, 086 819 8630)
  • White: Albarino, Agnusdei Val do Salnas, 2013
  • Red: Pinot Noir, Domaine Peiriere by Paul Sapin 2013


MUSHROOMS, CEP OIL, CEP VINEGAR Lucy Deegan & Mark Cribben, Ballyhoura Mushrooms

Smoked Duck Breast, Mushrooms (Dried Ceps, Confit Shiitakes & Pickled Chanterelles, Shiitake Dressing), Leaves, Quail’s Egg, Croutons

SKEAGHANORE DUCK Helena & Eugene Hickey, Skeaghanore, Ballydehob, West Cork

SPICED BEEF Frank Krawczyk Charcuterie, Derreenatra, Schull

Spiced Beef, Market Vegetables, Tomatoes, Leaves, Elephant Garlic Bagna Cauda, Sourdough Bread

COUNTRY BUTTER, CRÈME FRAICHE Alan & Valerie Kingston, Glenilen Farm, Drimoleague

SOURDOUGH BREAD Declan Ryan, Arbutus Bread, Mayfield, Cork

Flavours and potions including Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin

VEGETABLES, HERBS Tim York, Lisheen Organics, Skibbereen

BUFFALO RICOTTA Johnny Lynch, Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, Macroom

Sweet Geranium Jelly, Almond Sponge, Rhubarb, Custard, Vanilla Ricotta Cream

SHERIDANS’ BROWN BREAD CHEESE CRACKERS Jane & Richard Graham-Leigh, Cookies of Character, Dunmanway

Coturnix Quails’ Eggs, pickled with Beetroot

BERTHA’S REVENGE MILK GIN Justin & Jenny Green, Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons

CHICKEN, EGGS Dave Louks, Shehy More Free Range Farm, Dunmanway

Chicken, Dillisk, Skibbereen Farmer’s Market Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers

COFFEE Marc Kingston, Golden Bean Coffee Roasters, Ballymaloe

SMOKED TUNA, SMOKED MACKEREL Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery, Castletownshend

SCALLOPS Pat O’Connell, K. O’Connell Fish Merchants, English Market

Ocean’s bounty

CHEESE Quinlan Steele, Milleens Cheese, Eyeries, Beara

The original Irish cheeseboard: Milleen's Cheese, West Cork Honey and Sheridan's Brown Bread Crackers
The quintessential Irish cheeseboard: Milleen’s Cheese, Honey, Sheridan’s Brown Bread Crackers

FLOWERS Mags Riordan & Stephen Davies, Ruby Harte Edible Flowers, Drimoleague

ELEPHANT GARLIC Bryn Perrin, West Cork Garlic, Enniskeane

QUAILS’ EGGS Brendan Ross, Coturnix Quail, Dunmanway

SALAD LEAVES, TOMATOES Anthony Boyle & Morgan Hurley, Thornhill’s Organic Farm, Skibbereen

Nearly there, serving up dessert

MOROCCAN MINT GREEN TEA Mico & Colm Hassett, Kingfisher Teas, Co Wexford

Aftermath, cleaning up—well, The Swashbuachaill observing the cleanup, from his vantage point behind a tankard of wine
One of the finest restaurant crews The Swashbuachaill has ever worked with!
One of the finest restaurant crews The Swashbuachaill has ever worked with!

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