Darina Allen is a true celebrity in Ireland. Her cookery shows have been televised and her books are a staple in
most Irish homes. She is the founder of Ballymaloe,
a successful cookery school in East Cork which she runs with her husband Tim Allen.
Darina has kindly agreed to provide a weekly recipe on the site, so get out that apron and start cooking!
The Birth Of A Grandchild
The big excitement of this week was the arrival of our first grandchild, an
adorable baby boy called Joshua. I heard the news in San Francisco while staying
with my friend Mary Risley of Tante Maries Cooking School.
At seven am I was woken from the deepest jet lagged sleep by the persistent
sound of the phone ringing in the distance, I couldn't find my glasses, couldn't
see the phone, eventually staggered in the direction of the sound, picked up the
receiver to hear Tim's euphoric voice - 'Congratulations your a grandmother!' I
was beside myself with delight. Rachel and baby are well, such a blessing. I
wanted to wake everyone but had to wait for hours before anyone else got up.
I was on my way to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to do a short
course on The Regional Flavours of Mexico.
On Wednesday night I had dinner with the doyenne of Mexican food Diana Kennedy
at Mary Risley's house. Diana who lives in an ecologically designed adobe house
in Michoacan, Diana has devoted the last thirty years to studying the foods,
culture and heritage of Mexico. She is one of the rare non-Mexican nationals to
be presented with the order of The Aztec Eagle - the highest honour that Mexico
bestows on a non citizen. She's a terrific highly opinionated feisty woman who's
books on Mexican food are well worth seeking out.
The course at Greystone was worth travelling all that way for, so many of the
Mexican cooks and chefs were there anxious to share their secrets.
Rick Bayless and Marylin Tausend who organised the conference worked tirelessly
to make it a success.
When I walked in on Thursday the first person I spied was Zanne Stewart - Food
Editor of Gourmet, a great friend of mine for many years. She thought she was
hallucinating when she saw me but we had the best time for the week-end, she's
always such fun.
The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone is an amazing facility and the
practical classes were great, about five going on simultaneously around the huge
kitchen so one could wander from one to the other. I spent most of my time with
Carmen Ramírez Degellado of El Bajio restaurant in Mexico City, who did a class
on The flavours of Veracruz. Elaine Gonzales, internationally known chocolate
expert was doing all kinds of magic with chocolate including adorable Day of the
dead truffles and chocolate lilies. She's written two brilliantly researched
books on Chocolate artistry and Art of Chocolate that chocolate lovers may want
to seek out.
These US Mini Conferences are seriously educational, one is bombarded with
information from early morning (7am start) to late at night. I was reeling from
the effort of concentrating for so long.
I stayed with the Cakebread wine family in St Helena and had dinner with them on
Saturday night at Tra Vigne - Great Rosemary flat bread with roasted garlic and
Cambozola cheese from the wood burning oven. Pan seared 'Angry Sand Dabs' with
fresh Serrano chilli, orange zest and crispy basil and a delicious Autumn nut
tart with organic honey and Crème Fraiche.
On Sunday morning on the way to the airport we stopped off at The Dinner in
Yountville, its a must if and when you get to this area - Great American
breakfast. We were in a rush but nonetheless I managed a plate of scrambled eggs
with chilli, Tomato Salsa and hash browns, freshly squeezed orange juice and
some really delicious Pancakes with Maple Syrup.
San Francisco airport was a Zoo, United Airlines had cancelled nine, yes nine
flights to Los Angeles that day - Miraculously my flight was not cancelled so I
caught my Air Lingus flight to Dublin - Cant wait to get home to see my brand
new grandson - more next week!