Scott, a colleagues of mine, was once overheard saying “JR would go to the opening of an envelope, on an island, at midnight in a storm!”. And it’s true, I probably would! I have always loved a good day out. And given the chance I will pop up at any food and wine event that I can make it to when not in work. Taking a train, boat or even a flight only adds to the fun! Last Thursday saw the launch of the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and wine and with it, the opportunity for my much loved “Big Day Out”.
Traveling with Darina Allen is always great fun, not only because of her wonderful stories and great sense of humour, but because it seems as thought anything is possible! On Thursday I was under strict instructions to be at Darina’s house for an early 6am start! I have become accustomed to early mornings, usually because I am the first person in the Ballymaloe kitchen making soda bread for breakfast, but on this morning I got up before sunrise for a different reason!
After a pleasant taxi ride to the station, Rebecca, Rory, Darina and I boarded the 7am train to Dubin. Unluckily the locomotive of the train broke down only a few kilometres outside Cork city. Minutes later the train turned back and before we knew it Darina had us in a Dublin bound taxi! Our driver knew there was no time to spare and got us to Dublin’s Cake Cafe without a moment to loose. We were welcomed to the cafe by it’s fabulous owner, Michelle Darmody and there the delightful Neven Maguire joined us. The photographer took some sweet pictures of Michelle, Darina, Neven and Rory and, as luck would have it a ray of sunshine, at just the right moment, really was “the icing on the cake”.
After a delectably fine lunch at the Greenhouse Restaurant and a cup of really good coffee at Brother Hubbard we made our way to O’Connell’s restaurant where the festival was officially launched by the authoritative John Bowman. Journalists and friends were totally inspired by the thrilling words John used to describe why, he felt, the festival was going to be a historic gathering of minds.
So, if you you fancy a slice of the action and want to hear from Michelle, Neven, John, Darina, Rory or one of the other 40 plus food and wine stars at this historic festival make your way to East Cork this May bank holiday weekend. And if like me you find yourself getting up early, come find me in the the pastry kitchen and I’ll treat you to some well buttered, freshly baked, homemade soda bread.