Vanity Fair-William Thackeray

‘ Are there not little chapters in everybody’s life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?’

Indeed Mr. Thackeray, indeed.

‘Vanity Fair’ is the best known of Thackeray’s works, none of which I had previously read.  The book follows the fate of two friends, privileged Amelia Sedley, and Rebecca Sharp, of more humble origins, as they graduate from  Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies to make their way in the world. Or rather, to have the world and their futures arranged for them, as was more the custom in the 1830s. Continue reading “Vanity Fair-William Thackeray”

Oh boy oh bagel

I can’t remember the first time I ate a bagel. I probably felt very exotic & American! I had ample opportunity to indulge in ‘proper’ bagels during my J1 summer in Boston, but since becoming a coeliac, it hasn’t been quite the same.

Perhaps I should just accept that you can’t replicate everything in gluten-free form, and look at all the things I can eat instead of focusing on my restrictions. However, learning to make oodles of different breads at Ballymaloe made me rather stubborn and determined that anything you can eat, I can bake and eat without gluten. Continue reading “Oh boy oh bagel”

A little bit of baking..

It seems that my baking has all been destined for mouths other than mine lately. While I can comment on how lovely the end result looks, I haven’t had a chance to taste either of these recipes!
My first is from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s book ‘Sweet’: blackberry and star anise friands (or just blackberry friands if you don’t have any star anise).

Being the bit of a nerd that I am,  I was rather excited about a new method of baking- browning the butter first, then adding it to the combined dry ingredients and slightly frothed egg whites.  It all worked very nicely, and I had fun with the purple-y blackberry icing. There’s only 60g flour in the recipe, and it worked fine with gluten-free flour. I may not have tasted them myself, but they did get a professional chef’s approval!


Meanwhile, getting my work colleagues’ approval was the Happy Pear’s chocolate mousse cake. It was filled with butter (the boys use margarine), sugar and chocolate, so no wonder! Ground almonds in this, so another one to make the coeliacs happy.


Just have to start baking some cakes for myself now (says the girl who still has Christmas cake & pudding in the freezer….)

Well, hello there

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, my readers must be feeling very fond indeed.

Yes, it’s been a while (though not as long as I’d feared) since I posted. A combination of student placement and extra hours at work, following by Christmas preparations, general laziness, and holiday preparations meant that you’ve all been somewhat neglected.

Not to worry- all will soon be remedied. Nothing like being laid up on the sofa with a miserable cold to help catch up on some writing!

The Stagiaire

I read over my first week’s post from Ballymaloe near to my first day ‘anniversary’. It struck how wonderously awed I sound, like a child on Christmas morning. It also struck me that I make no mention of the actual food or cooking! This year, instead of walking through the kitchen garden in chef’s whites, I was bringing Mr. WB home from A&E, both in our pyjamas (all better now, thank God).

Anyway, I didn’t mention it, but I remember on my first days in the kitchen thinking ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. Drying dishes the night of the pop-up, I thought ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. And now? I’ve just finished my first week…working in a restaurant kitchen. Paradiso‘s restaurant kitchen, to be precise.

I’ve peeled, prepped, pureed, chopped, baked, scooped and sieved my way through five evenings. There’s been a burn or two, which I haven’t even registered at the time. I’ve gone from never using a blowtorch to browning Baked Alaskas with gusto, and plating 40 desserts in one service.

It’s an amazing experience, not least because I get to eat the same food as the customers! Little do they know, as they sit chatting and laughing, that inside, seated on the stepladder beside the freezer, is a rookie chef enjoying the same plate of beetroot risotto (albeit in a 10 minute break).

In fact, I think every diner would appreciate their food all the more, were they know the time involved in the kitchen preparation!


I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t posted in an entire month- work, appointments and sleeping badly seem to have got in the way. Anyway, I’m back with a rather belated post on the fabulous GROW HQ in Waterford, which  Mr. WB & I visited last month on our summer holiday.

The building itself is a funky affair-bright colours, concrete, and wooden tables with their own individual carved messages. Surrounded by gardens, you forget that you’re just off a roundabout and main road. I particularly liked the miniature garden, showing what can be achieved in a small space. It wasn’t lost on me that it’s just around the corner from University Hospital Waterford- perhaps the patient and staff could look out and feel inspired towards healthier homegrown food as a preventative medicine.

While not being a vegetarian cafe, the vegetables are definitely the stars of this menu. In fact, there’s even a ‘HQ Hero’ plate which features a vegetable cooked five different ways- great inspiration if you hit a garden glut!

Mr. WB satisfied his hunger with a hearty lunch, while I enjoyed a generous bowl of brocolli & romanesco salad with Cashel Blue dressing, caramelised cashews & dots of cauliflower puree.

I have to say I was rather jealous of Mr. WB’s beetroot & chocolate cake, but felt sufficiently appeased by deciding to order a gooseberry & tayberry parfait, especially when I was offered some ice cream in lieu of the usual (gluten-y) shortbread biscuits.

Calling GROW HQ a cafe really belies the quality of the food- this is restaurant quality food at cafe prices. I just wish it was closer to Cork!

A filling lunch plate
Broccoli & Romanesco salad
Beetroot Cake & Ice Cream
Gooseberry & Tayberry Parfait