Results tagged Darina Allen from David Lebovitz

Midleton Farmers’ Market, Ireland

Midleton Farmers market greens

How excited was I to get an invitation to be a speaker at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest festival at the Ballymaloe Cookery School? It popped into my mailbox a few months ago and although I had been to Ballymaloe a few years back, I remembered the exceptional food of Cork, Ireland, and the lovely people – which meant there was no way in heck I was going to refuse.

Irish bread

Yesterday, which was the first full day of the event, I took 350+ pictures; as I said to someone here, “You can’t take a bad picture in Cork.” The intense green fields and trees, the low-lying landscape, and the pristine fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats, remind me in many ways of Northern California, with a chill passing through the air every once in a while alternating with moments of sunlight and brightness before the sun retreats again.

Ballymaloe lunch salads

But it’s mainly the food that I come back for – fresh goat cheeses, a strong commitment to sustainable meats and fish, liberal use of fresh vegetables, and a pride of ingredients that shines through every plate of every meal that’s set down before us.

Ballymaloe house bread and butter-4

Even breakfast at Ballymaloe House, their restaurant, is made with free-range eggs laid by chickens just around the corner, bacon from rare-breed pigs that tastes better than anything you can imagine, and sausage that you don’t feel guilty biting in to, because you know that everything in there isn’t a mysterious blend of dubious meat scraps from who-knows-where. But skillfully blended and seasoned, making it the perfect accompaniment, and a hearty start to the day, along with the eggs and freshly baked whole grain bread that I’ve become addicted to.

Irish breakfast

While every moment of the weekend is jam-packed with talks, tastings, and socializing with old friends and new, Friday night we’d decided to get up early and hit the nearby farmers’ market in Midleton on Saturday morning, which I’ve visited once before. With a jam-packed schedule, we didn’t have much time to spare before the festivities started and we figured arriving at 8am would give us enough time to get a good look at everything.

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Ballymaloe Cookery School

Darina Allen at Ballymaloe organic beetroot

When Darina Allen sat down to talk to us, a small group of food writers, it was just after her son and daughter in law, Rachel Allen. It was definitely nap time, and I put my camera in my bag along with my notepad, and contemplated having a little bit of a mental break while sit around in a kitchen, listening as Darina planned to tell us about her Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Well, that was the wrong idea. Because within seconds after Darina started talking, I scrambled around in my messenger bag for my notepad and pen because every word and phrase that came out of her mouth was note-worthy.

learn to cook squash

I’m not a reporter and can’t write very fast (thirty five years working in professional kitchens seem to be taking their toll), plus I’ll never be a journalist because I always get too involved in what I’m seeing or who I’m talking to rather than focusing on taking notes and zeroing in on facts and figures. But I tried to catch as much as I could as she spoke faster than I could jot things down.

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Plum and Rhubarb Crisp

serving crisp plum rhubarb crisp

I’m not sure if I just returned from lunch, or if I was privy to a top-secret breeding ground for a race of super attractive people, that also happen to be amazing cooks. When I walked into the home of Rachel Allen, who’d invited a few of us traveling through Ireland for lunch, I was stunned by A) The stunning kitchen, b) The stunning view, and C) The stunning people.

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