We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use the site we assume you consent to our Cookie Policy


Ballymaloe LitFest and a postcard from my mortifying/proud childhood…


Ballymaloe LitFest and a postcard from my mortifying/proud childhood…

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Donal Darina_3

Yes, I'm afraid to admit, that bespeckled boy with the tea towel on on his head, demonstrating how to make homemade pizza, is me… You may be wondering why the strange get up, but to me it was quite clear at the time, that with my jam jar glasses, I was a dead ringer for the Queen of Irish food, Darina Allen.  It made complete sense to set up my dad's video camera with the help of my best friend, dressed as Delia Smith, to present the forgotten episode of Darina's TV show "Simply Delicious: The Cook Off", complete with my best impression of Darina's dulcet tones.  Clearly it would have been a ratings winner!

While I was growing up, Darina's prime time RTÉ TV show, "Simply Delicious", was something my whole family sat down to watch, listening intently as she dished up delicious recipes and the gospel of good quality Irish ingredients.  Not only was Darina invading my TV screen at the time but my aunt and my two uncles had also just finished the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery course, which meant classic recipes like cucumber pickle, poached whole salmon and Ballymaloe brown bread were passing my lips at birthdays, baptisms and first communions. 

Donal Darina

Full of inspiration and armed with the complete collection of the Simply Delicious cookbooks I worked my way through the recipes and even used to sell the biscuits and cakes I would make to the neighbours, though you will be glad to hear, my mom insisted I left the tea towel at home.  The confession I have to make today is that despite the impact Ballymaloe and Darina has clearly had on me, I have never been to Ballymaloe House, which is why I am literally brimming with excitement for this weekend's LitFest which features some of the most influential names in the food world. 

I feel extremely privileged to be included in the line up speaking as part of the New Voices In Food taking place on Saturday alongside Thomisina Myers, Rachel Allen, Stevie Parle and Claire Ptak and chaired by the legendary Matthew Fort.  It's moments in life like this that you have to stand back and appreciate things and I'm guessing if you told the be-speckled, tea towel headed boy that he would grow up to write cookbooks and present cookery programs he would be jumping for joy and beaming with pride, I know I am.

You might be interested in...

Setting the Christmas Table

Setting the Christmas Table

Setting the Christmas Table
  • Jennifer Carroll

    Beautiful new layout and what a SWEET story!! I hope you savor every moment of this weekend – what a tremendous accomplishment!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    • Thank you Jennifer! I will of course savor it all! :)

  • Aoife Ryan

    Gutted I can’t make it. Love the morto photos though Ax

    • Ah shame! Thanks, I’m only scraping the surface- there is more! :)

  • Sacha11

    awww!!! that is such a nice post. Loved reading it.

  • Ah, bless! Love the pictures. I wonder has Darina seen them yet?!

  • Woww!!123

    wow that got me proper confused when i saw the pic (until i read the first few line) i was like who’s tha menna be!! great blog LOVE READING YOUR POSTS ! UR FOO is AMAZINGGGGG:) :)
    Funny PIC’s BTW!!
    hey will ya check out my site pleaseee
    and leave me a comment THNNNNXXXXXXXXXX

  • Carla Bolton

    Very nice! I discovered you on Twitter, and being from Philadelphia, I enjoy the variation of recipes, your energetic persona, and all the awesome pics of Howth and Ireland you post. Spent a fabulous day in Howth 2yrs ago, loved it! Keep up the good work and inspiring us all with food and its endless possibilities!

  • S Warnes

    Oh Donal I am new to your blog and today’s post has me smiling. Such a precious memory to share. I plan to share this blog with my son who is currently an apprentice chef.

  • Lovely post, Donal, so sweet! Have a brilliant time at Ballymaloe, I wish I was heading down for the festival, gutted to be missing it.

    • Thanks Kate! Should be great fun- really looking forward to it- I’d imagine it may become an annual event! :)

  • Sophie

    Donal have a fab time…………. LOL its soo annoying when photos like that pop up hahaha :)

    • Thanks a million! There is far too many of mine for my liking! :)

  • DonalSkehanISTheBest

    I am soo SAD i cant go too i did plan to go but some thing else popped up Hope u and Everyone else enjoys themselves!!:) Have a good time !! Oh yea your blogs GREAT:D

  • strawberrymilkshake

    the pics are hilarious I wish i could join you guys there too !!!
    Im way far off !! It will take me years to get there:-)
    Anyway enjoy ur self!!!

  • Rosie

    Great story I loved reading it, are we ever gonna get to see the accompanying video??
    So sad I can’t join you at the Ballymaloe LitFest, can’t come as I live out of Ireland (my BFF is coming though..)
    When is your new series coming out???