I could hardly believe my eyes… Is this for real?… I had to pinch myself!… Is this possible?… I was traveling in Thailand when the news reached me… I knew it would be impressive but I had never imagined it to be so exceptional!
Reading the programme for the “Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine” sent shivers down my spine, in a good way of course. I have always considered myself a foodie, by which I mean I have been eating for as long as I can remember. I have often strayed far off the beaten track in search of new epicurean experiences, but I had never imagined that the holy grail of food and wine events would blossom on my door step. I had to read the list of speakers several times to let it sink in! The most respected literary figures of food and wine would all be gathering in one place, and all with one aim in mind: To share experiences, knowledge and stories from their craft. My mouth was watering at the thought of such an exciting few days. And luckily for me I live on the very farm where it is all to take place.
I have always considered myself to be very lucky. Allow me to highlight a few examples to stand out in my mind: At the age of four I was lucky enough to meet the amazing Darina Allen. She signed a copy of her then newly published “Simply Delicious” and wrote a message inside the cover saying “To John Robert, who will be a great chef one day”. I was the only one of my friends to have such an inspiring celebrity endorsement at that age. When I was fifteen I luckily got offered a job by Rory O’Connell – the then head chef at Ballymaloe House – to work in the pastry kitchen. A life changing opportunity that opened my palate and mind to the thrilling taste of fresh food. Before I turned twenty I was lucky enough to be taken on a profound food tour of Paris by Myrtle Allen, my food hero. Two years later I was fortunate enough to be offered the head pastry position in her kitchen. And now, three years on, as luck would have it, the ultimate food and wine festival will take place in what I can only describe as the most magical food destination I know, Ballymaloe. So naturally, as you can imagine, I am so totally over the top excited about this phenomenal gathering of minds, and it’s all on my home turf.
The purpose of this blog is to keep you not only informed, but also excited about the festival, that I’m sure you will agree, we have all been waiting for. I will endeavour to share with you my adventure over the next few weeks as the festival draws ever closer, revealing inspiring insights into the events and speakers.
So if you see me at the festival say hi, I would only love to meet others as delighted as myself to soak up every bit of the fun.