Every now and again for the past year, I’ve been googling “Darina Allen” looking for a blog. Surely Ireland’s most celebrated cookery writer and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School would have one. Then, last month, I noticed a comment about Darina Allen and her relatively new blog whilst looking at the Irish Food Bloggers Association website.
It seems Darina started blogging on 14th June last year. In her own words, “it was a rough start initially” but in the last eight months she’s really taken off…literally. Darina’s blog reads more like a journal of food travels than recipes. To date she’s taken us to such places as Cambodia, New York, Sri Lanka, Mexico and, of course, all around Ireland in search of discovering food trends.
For those who don’t know her, Darina is to Ireland what Alice Waters is to America. She is credited with starting up the first Irish farmers market a decade ago. There are now over 150 of them across Ireland. Three years ago, she and Waters put forward an idea that lead to the Slow Movement’s Annual Grandmother’s Day, with the hope that grandmother’s could help end child obesity by teaching their grandchildren to plant and cook dishes made with fresh local ingredients. She is author of 16 books, including Forgotten Skills of Ireland, Ballymaloe Cookery Course and, an old standby, Simply Delicious.
I had the good fortune of meeting Darina while attending the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shangarry, County Cork many years ago. She’s a quick wit, a wonderful teacher, and a food activist in Ireland and beyond. Ballymaloe is one of the only cooking schools in the world located on an entirely organic farm. In fact, it was my time spent at Ballymaloe which led to me developing organic kitchen gardens at our home in Ireland and in America.
If you visit Ireland and have an interest in cooking, consider a trip to Ballymaloe…there is a 12 week certificate course, over 60 shorter courses, and many afternoon classes to enjoy. And, if you’re just a fan and want to know what Darina’s getting up to, check out her blog.
And, if by chance you’re visiting the Cork area this weekend, Darina is hosting the first ever Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine at the Grain Store, Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School.
There will be an incredible line-up of over 40 speakers including: Alice Waters, Madhur Jaffery, Claudia Roden, Bill Yosses (The American White House Pastry Chef) Stephanie Alexander (from Australia), Claus Meyer, Camilla Plus, Rowley Leigh, and David Thompson. Jancis Robinson MW and her husband Nick Lander are coming over from the U.K., as are Joanna Blythman, and some of the new young voices in food: Thomasina Miers, Stevie Parle, Alys Flowler, and Claire Ptak. And, that’s just the beginning. This international cast will be matched by a strong Irish presence. You’ll have to look at the Litfest.ie website to get the whole picture. It’s quite a tempting line-up!
Happy reading and cooking.
- Ballymaloe Cookery School – Anticipation! (cynthiacathcart.wordpress.com)
- T Magazine: Ireland’s New International Food Festival (tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine (jrryall.com)