Category Archives: sometimes food

Buns And Basil Salad: A Morning With Rachel Allen

As a child, I can remember Darina Allen visiting my home during food festivals in County Kerry. I’d shy away in the kitchen while Darina chatted to my mother about local produce and farming. I recognised her as a TV star of the shows I had been glued to. Darina would travel from Ballymaloe to events and festivals to share her passion of food and cooking tips.¬†Her love and pride for Ballymaloe and its graduates was obvious to me, even as an eight year old.

In August of this year, I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel Allen. Also renowned for being a top chef in Ireland, Rachel is a graduate of Ballymaloe and a savvy business woman. Thankfully as a 31 year, I didn’t shy away on this occasion.

Organised by AIL events and hosted at Bord Bia headquarters, it seemed the perfect location for the event. As I sipped on a massive coffee and mingled with the other attendees, I prepared for the hunger pangs that would sneak in as Rachel embarked on a two hour cooking extravaganza. The down to earth approach of making traditional buns served with cream and simple but perfect salads with fresh ingredients from Ballymaloe made my mouth water throughout.

The party piece (literally) was a chest of sandwiches. A fresh loaf of bread was transformed into a unique manner of serving sandwiches. Rachel sliced out the centre, made at least six sandwiches and then popped them back inside as a presentation option. Describing it perfectly, Rachel described how Myrtle Allen would never show up to a party without a chest of sandwiches, back in the day.

Rachel not only made an impact because of her charming manner and of course, her expertise. Her techniques of preparing such simple dishes and adding a romance to them sparked an excitement in me. We can make sandwiches and bring them to a party or, we can make a chest of sandwiches. Similarly, we can pull out the baking trays and make cupcakes or we can make traditional buns in all their perfect glory.

The kitchen doesn’t have to be fancied up or even constantly used. It can become a place where we go back to tradition and make a green salad with juicy tomatoes straight from the garden. Likewise, it can be a place to make something tasty for a friend we’re visiting. It can be as quick and simple as we like or it can be a bigger project. In any event, it’s about the food we enjoy and who we share it with.

Finishing up the event, we heard of Rachel’s collaboration with O’Brien’s Sandwich bars. A range of salads comprising chicken caesar, beet and a powerhouse option (full of energy creating super foods) have been especially selected as part of the signature range. On my last trip to O’Briens, I tried the chicken caesar and I felt rather full and satisfied.

As if juicy tomatoes and buns weren’t amazing enough, we were introduced to snacks from Coolhull Farm. The producers of cheesecakes, ice-cream and a range of desserts can be found in Wexford and providing tasty snacks across the Island of Ireland.

For me, being around food lovers makes me love food even more. There’s always a new recipe to try or an ingredient that can be experimented with. Be sure to share any suggestions or tips you might have!

Limerick City: International Food Trucks Of Mystery

To me, Limerick city will always be my University city. It’s where I smuggled bottles of vodka into nightclubs and cried after the chipper when fleeting relationships broke down. The days of studying in the library and sneaking into town for a break are shuffled in as particularly relevant memories.

Eight years later and to me, Limerick is a changed city. Sure, there’s a massive student life and serious night scene. There is however also so much culture, new developments and what was once a recession-hit small city is starting to come to life again.

There’s loads to do day to day, of course. But hey, why not shake things up? That’s what I always say. The joys of being flexible while living in Ireland means I get to check out different options. Limerick offered this option this Summer when I was particularly excited to head to the International Food Truck Festival. It was the first of its kind and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. Set up in Limerick People’ Park, there were 15 trucks with a variety of cuisine from sweet to savoury. Of course, there were speckled bars across the location for good measure with a couple of types of wine and beer to boot.

The articles online were researched days in advance by yours truly and they excitedly bragged of shark meat and alligator. You can imagine how the search was on when I got there. This was both across social media and in person in the pouring rain as we were met with showers and muddy puddles galore. Not finding the promised random cuisine wasn’t enough to turn us off. The gallivanting carried on and turned into tasty wine, cold beers and an array of Lebanese, Mexican and Canadian food. This could only be topped off by hot chocolates, fondue and shots of espresso.

Sitting with a friend later that night, we reminisced about how things have changed but how we still love to adventure around Limerick city. While the classics like Flannery’s bar and Nancy’s will always deserve a visit, branching out to a random festival or two never hurt anybody.

Back To Routine: Smoothies, Physio and Blog Posts.

It’s post-Easter break and I’m sat here reminiscing about the days gone by. Those days where I was surrounded by people, adventure, Easter eggs and of course, laughs.

Sitting in the kitchen at the beginning of the adventure, I wasn’t so sure about what the week ahead would involve. I knew it was a well needed break from the norm and that the aim was to head back to work feeling revitalised as well as excited. Looking back, I can say that I’m not quite there YET with over four days left of my holidays… in Dublin.

Although, the plan is in motion.

Firstly, the blog posts and normal routine must be resumed for the sake of my health and sanity. Laying in bed for two hours today with a garlic filled smoothie in one hand and positivity podcast in the other saw the start of that. The chocolate has finally started to escape my pores and as far as I can tell, my bank account seems a bit more relaxed at the prospect of a sense of normalcy.

Goggling ways to feel healthier as I lay in bed came as no shocker to my damaged body. I’ve been battling with IBS and a crocked back the past few weeks so having only the onset of a cold to contend with today – I have to say, I feel pretty grateful. The rest has done me pretty good and I’m ready to re-instigate (and maintain) those healthy habits of mine.

*Drinking a load of water each day is helping to flush the badness out of my system. It’ll make my skin look and feel better and will ward off those feelings of dehydration. It seems like a no-brainer however can easily be forgotten. HYDRATE people, please.

*Doing some exercise is bound to get that body into the swing of things. I’m in a coffee shop now however have plans to head home and go walking then do some yoga and meditation. Having spent the past month unable to go to the gym, I know the feeling of not doing it and it sucks! The bare minimum that’s recommended is a 30 minute walk each day. With these lovely long Summer evenings, there aren’t many excuses laying about.

*A friend of mine recently introduced me to a smoothie for when the immune system isn’t at its best. Throw lots of green veggies into a blender along with lots of garlic. The garlic is to help build up the immune system and you can be sure those vegetables will help you work towards your five a day. For taste’s sake, I threw in some bananas and soya milk to smooth it out. I’m excited to have one each day for the coming week to help me feel on track.

*My sister gifted me a planner document this week before heading back to the UK. It allows you to look back on the year gone by, reflect and look toward the year ahead. It’s called ‘Unravel your year 2017’ and is by Susannah Conway. Although it’s already April, I personally find this super useful. The pages are filled with questions and prompts to allow you set goals, work towards them and outline your desired outcomes.

Aside from that, you’ll be hearing from me loads more via the blog and social media as I expand on my lovely and healthy life. Watch this space for my next adventure piece coming soon as I book some fun trips this Summer!