ArchiveApril 20, 2013

Ballymaloe Inaugural Literary Festival of Food and Wine

Down here in Ballymaloe we are all so excited about the first ever Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine.

It’s taking place in Ballymaloe House and at the Grain store and Ballymaloe Cookery School.

We have a fantastic line up of speakers – many of my food heroes from all over the world said yes to the invitation to come to Ireland for a gathering of cooks and chefs and food writers over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

This is your chance to meet and mingle and chat to the icons whom we never imagined we’d meet face to face.

And it’s not just food, every wine buff’s hero Jancis Robinson MW and her husband Nick Lander restaurant critic for the Financial Times will give a presentation on the wine book, “Wine Grapes – A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours”,   of which she is the co-author with a wine tasting to illustrate her presentation.

We’ll have a whiskey tasting and Ger Buckley from Midleton Distillery will give a cooperage demonstration and we have a number of iconic craft beer brewers (West Kerry, White Gypsy, Metal Man, 8 Degree…) They will all be part of the fringe events in the Big Shed at Ballymaloe. Madhur Jaffrey is coming from New York to teach a class at the cookery school on Saturday 4th May and on Sunday 5th May she will also do a talk in the Grainstore about our love affair with curry – based on her new book The Curry Nation. You can’t see her anywhere else in the world, she just doesn’t give classes.

Same with Claudia Roden, much loved author of over 18 cook books including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, considered to be the standard work on Eastern food. Claudia was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in 2012 by the Guild of Food Writers. She’ll demonstrate recipes from her new book ‘Food of Spain’ on Saturday 4th May.

For those of you who love Asian food, David Thompson chef owner of Nahm restaurant is coming from Bangkok to show us some of his favourite Thai street food. He’s a super guy and we’ll choose recipes you can reproduce at home.

The new voices in food – Stevie Parle from Dock Kitchen in London, Thomasina Miers from Wahaca and Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes and our own Donal Skehan will strut their stuff.

Alice Waters – author of ten books – of Chez Panisse in Berkley CA, started the Edible School Yard project in California. Bill Yosses, pastry chef at the White House will tell us about Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden. And Stephanie Alexander, bestselling author of 14 books and whose project the development of a primary school kitchen garden program the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is supported by the Australian government and has resulted in 295 Australian schools having gardens and kitchens for the children to learn how to grow and cook. Those interested in the education of our children, both parents and teachers, will find this session totally inspirational.

Budding writers and food bloggers will find much food for thought in sessions like Lucy Pearce’s Workshop, Food Writing for the Digital Generation (with  Aoife Carrigy, Caroline Hennessy and Michael Kelly) on Saturday 4th May. John McKenna In Conversation, Evolution of Food Writing (with Matthew Fort) on Sunday 5th May and In Conversation, How to Get the Best from a Restaurant (with Nick Lander, Tom Doorley and Hazel Allen) on Sunday 5th May.

Michelle Darmody who self-published her Cake Café Cookbook is also happy to share her secrets of how it’s done.

The centre of the gastronomic world has moved from Spain to Copenhagen in the past couple of years. Co-founder of Noma the best restaurant in the world will tell us how this Nordic food revolution came about. Are there lessons for Ireland here?

This session will be particularly fascinating for chefs and cooks, food writers and those involved in the hospitality industry.

Alys Fowler – who was the editor of the Landscape Review and has also presented her own successful TV series, The Edible Garden in 2010. She has published four books including The Thrifty Gardener, The Edible Garden and the Thrifty Forager – will do a foraging master class with Micheal Kelly of GIY (Grow it Yourself). The growing number of people, me included, who are interested in food issues should not miss Joanna Blythman’s workshop Digesting Unsavoury Truths with Ella McSweeney and Suzanne Campbell on Sunday 4th May. Joanna has won numerous awards and accolades including five Glen Fiddich Awards, a Caroline Walker Media Award for Improving the Nation’s Health by Means of Good Food, a Guild of Food Writers Award. Bring your questions… Food historians will be thrilled with the opportunity to hear Regina Sexton – Literary Conversation, The Early Food Writing of Myrtle Allen on Monday 5th May.

And then there are the fringe events in the Big Shed and farmers market and honestly there’s much more but not enough room to tell you about it. We reckon to have many exciting events for all the family, so check out the website for details and deals.

Meanwhile here are some of my favourite recipes from the guests chefs to whet your appetite.


David Thompson’s Nahm Sweet Pork


This sweet pork is addictive.  The sugar balances the heat of the chillies.  It is eaten as an accompaniment to Nam Priks (Relishes).


Serves 4 as a nibble


10 ozs (300 g) pork shoulder or neck

4 ozs (125 g) sugar

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

10 shallots, sliced, dried and deep-fried until golden


Cook the pork in boiling water until cooked, then cut into ½ cm (¼ inch) cubes.  In a small pan combine the sugar and water and cook until it caramelises.  Add the pork, fish sauce, soy sauce and extra water.  Simmer for 5 minutes until sticky.  Mix in the deep-fried shallots and serve.


Thomasina Mier’s Green Chilli Vinaigrette


This is a delicious, bright salad dressing that is perfect for simple green salads.


2 green chillies
1 small clove of garlic
3 tablespoons water

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

a teaspoon castor sugar

a handful of chopped coriander

Roast the chillies and garlic in a dry frying pan until they are blackened, blistered and soft (5-10 minutes approximately).  Remove the garlic skin and de-stem and de-seed the chillies.  Check the heat of the chillies with the tip of your tongue.  If they are hot you may only want to use one.  Roughly chop them and put in a blender with the garlic and the rest of the ingredients.  Blitz to a smooth-ish vinaigrette and serve at once (this dressing does not keep).


Madhur Jaffrey’s Rogan Josh

From  “Foolproof Indian Cookery”


Serves 4-6


5cm (2 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, chopped

7 garlic cloves, chopped

6 tbsp olive or groundnut oil

10 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

2½cm (1 inch) piece of cinnamon stick

2lb (900g) boneless lamb from the shoulder, or beef cut into 2½-4cm (1-1½ inch) cubes

7oz (200g) onions, finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1½ tbsp sweet, bright-red paprika

2 tsp tomato purée

1¼ tsp salt

10fl oz (300ml) water


Drop the ginger and garlic into a food processor or blender, add 4 tablespoons of water and blend to a paste.  Put the oil into a wide pan, preferably non-stick, and set it over a medium-high heat.  When it is hot, put in the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.  Quickly put in the lamb pieces – only as many as the pan will hold easily in a single layer and brown on all sides.  Remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl.  Brown the remaining meat in the same way.


Add the onions to the oil left in the pan.  Cook, stirring, until they turn brown at the edges.  Add the paste from the blender and stir for 30 seconds.  Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and paprika, stir once and then add the tomato purée.  Stir for 10 seconds.


Add the meat and any whole spices that are still clinging to it, plus the salt and water.  Stir well and bring to the boil.  Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.


* If using beef, cook for 1½ hours rather than 1 hour.


Claudia Roden’s Medjool Date and Coconut Chutney


Claudia Roden introduced me to this Jewish recipe when she taught a class at the school in 2007. It’s a gem, keep some in your fridge and you’ll find yourself eating it with everything.  Serve with everything or as part of a plate of mezze.


Makes 3 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars


150ml (5fl oz/1/4 pint) water

125g (4 1/2oz) desiccated coconut

50g (2oz) coriander leaves

juice of 2 limes or lemons

2 garlic cloves crushed

10 Medjool dates, stoned

1 tablespoon tamarind paste dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons water


Pour the water over the desiccated coconut and allow to sit about 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Chop the coriander in the food processor, then add the lime juice, crushed garlic, dates, coconut and the tamarind paste dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water.  Season with sea salt and a good pinch of cayenne, and blend to a paste.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary to make a soft creamy paste.  Fill into small jars, cover with non-reactive lids and store in the refrigerator.


25g (1oz) block of tamarind soaked for 20 minutes in 50ml (2fl oz) boiling water makes 1 tablespoon of tamarind purée.


Claudia Roden’s Fruit Salad with Honey and Orange Blossom Water

From “The Book of Jewish Cooking”


For this delicately scented fruit salad, have a mix of fruit chosen from three or four of the following: peaches, nectarines, apricots, bananas, plums, grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, mangoes, melon, pineapple, dates, and pomegranate seeds.


Serves 4


Juice of 1 large orange

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon orange blossom water

750g mixed fruit

To garnish: a few mint leaves

Mix the orange juice, honey and orange blossom water straight into a serving bowl. Wash or peel the fruits, core or remove stones and drop them in the bowl as you cut them up into pieces so that they do not have time to discolour.

Leave in a cool place for an hour or longer before serving, garnished with mint leaves.



Slow Food International and Sandbrook House are hosting the second International Slow Food Grandmothers Day Celebration on Sunday 21st of April 11am-6pm.  There will be a celebration of Forgotten Skills and a series of workshops and demonstrations from some of Ireland’s most passionate Slow Food experts.

Darina Allen, Pamela Black, Florence Bowe and Niall Murphy and Sophie Morris of the Kookie Dough company…. will do cookery demonstrations. Sign up for a hands on sausage making sessions with Ed Hick and a series of workshops and demonstrations on topics including butter, cheese and chocolate making, preserving, foraging, cooking bastible bread over the open fire will be free to attend.  Grandmothers are invited to bring along a favourite recipe that they would like to pass onto their grandchildren to include in a Slow Food Grandmother’s scrapbook.

Admission is €10 with free entry to all children with one adult, free car parking and free entry to all workshops.  Cookery demonstrations are €10.00-15.00 and are on a first come, first served basis. See  for more details.

Wine events at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine 3rd – 6th May 2013.

The inaugural Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine, 3rd – 6th May 2013 will include well known wine & drinks writers Jancis Robinson MW, Mary Dowey, Tom Doorley, John Wilson, to name but some of the 40 national and international speakers attending.

Two Herbal Health Talks in May by Herbalist Kelli O’Halloran at Ballyseedy Garden Centre – Carrigtwohill.

The Sneezing Season! Saturday 4th May – 10:30am – 11:30am – How to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of hayfever with herbal medicines.

Happy Heart Weekend Saturday 11th May 10:30am – 11:30am To coincide with the Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Happy Heart Weekend’, Kelli looks at the natural herbal and dietary approach to preventing and reducing high cholesterol. Both talks cost €10, Slow Food Members €8, a cup of herbal tea included. Phone 087 965 2822 to book.


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