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Sally's blog

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Food Writers Unite for the Honey Bee

Last week the EU voted – narrowly – to ban the use of some of the neonicotinoid pesticides that are alleged to be part of the cause of colony collapse in the world population of bees and other pollinators. In the vote to ban the substances, the UK government voted "no" and the Irish government abstained.

In a special report from the Ballymaloe Lit Fest, we asked food writers, chefs and producers: are we doing enough to protect the bees?

Jancis Robinson MW at the Ballymaloe LitFest, by Leslie Williams

With so many food superstars at Ballymaloe last weekend it would be easy to forget that wine, beer and whiskey tastings also played a major part thanks to the wonderful work done by Colm McCan, the inspiring sommelier at Ballymaloe House.

The highlight for all wine enthusiasts occurred late on Sunday when Jancis Robinson MW guided a packed Grain Store through some unusual grape varieties to tie in with the launch of her recent Wine Grapes book.

The Big Shed, by Joe McNamee

If the serenity of Ballymaloe House, the graceful self-assurance of the manor home itself initially hinted that this LitFest gathering might ever be in danger of falling on the wrong side of chi-chi, more Pimms than porter, white bread sandwich with crust removed, then life in and around The Big Shed was an excellent reminder that the pearl in every oyster begins with a piece of grit.

Rory O’Connell, by John McKenna (Book Review)

Rory O’Connell’s book, “Master It – How to Cook Today”, is not so much a treatise on Slow Food, but more a treatise on Slowly Does It Food. It is that rare thing is today’s hyper-speed world: a patient book.

Many readers will find it not just a personal text, but a personality text, as if Rory is in the kitchen with you, looking over your shoulder, suggesting a tweak, a pinch of seasoning, another twist of the dough there, don’t let the stock bubble too fiercely, ah that’s lovely, well done, delicious.

Claus Meyer, NOMA and the Nordic Food Revolution, by John McKenna

Manifestos are considered old hat these days. Where they might have fitted Marx and Engels and the Futurists or the Dogme filmmakers, there is a feeling that, in the age of Occupy, manifestos leave too much out.

Who can sum up the aspirations of citizens and movements in a few lines? And, of course, we expect political manifestos to be traduced as soon as their authors actually get into office.

Claudia Roden by Caroline Hennessey

My copy of A New Book of Middle Eastern Food was bought for holiday reading. The fat paperback made it home safely - just a little crumpled and ever-so-slightly smeared with suncream - after immeasurably enriching a trip around Morocco. I enjoyed the traditional stories, folklore and songs that punctuate the recipes and ate more adventurously with each chapter that I consumed.

Madhur Jaffrey by Aoife Cox

Curry Queen

I wanted to go, really I did, but the fact is that I got plastered instead.

Or rather, having taken an unceremonious tumble down the Nepalese Himalayas, it was my foot that got plastered while, somewhat unavoidably, the rest of me had to stay behind to keep it company.

Ballymaloe LitFest - Resources

Ballymaloe will be an extraordinary hive of activity over the weekend as the house and its grounds are taken over with an amazing series of demonstrations, workshops, discussions, tastings, walks and conversations.

John kicks off on Saturday morning at 9.30am discussing the Nordic Food Revolution with Claus Meyer, co-founder of NOMA and Ben Reade of the Nordic Food Lab.


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