Review by Henrietta Green April 2007
Darina Allen has a deserved reputation as an ambassador for Irish food, champion of Irish farmers markets and a great teacher and communicator.
In her latest book, she returns to her much-loved cookery school at Ballymaloe, near Cork in Ireland. Set in organic gardens and with its own farm, the Ballymaloe Cookery School uses much of its own produce in the classroom that provides the base for seasonal recipes throughout the year. Other ingredients are sourced locally from surrounding producers, many of whom we meet throughout the book.
Darina's style is to use these quality ingredients to create dishes with flair. The recipes have been tried and tested at the school and enjoyed and devoured by eager students. In fact, many are expanded with extra notes including what makes them special to teach to the class. There's also a good `Basics' section that guides you on pastry, stocks and sauces, the special Ballymaloe salad dressing and flavoured oils and jellies.
She also shares her wide knowledge of Irish history and folklore. In the bread chapter, you'll find recipes for Irish wheaten and soda bread with the advice to never forget to cross the top of the loaf, `to let the faeries out' or the loaf will be jinxed.
So even if you don't have access to the bountiful harvests at Ballymaloe, you can easily recreate the recipes using the best of the season from your own garden or farmers market.