Recently Hannah at LovetoDineBlog set a challenge to food bloggers. She wanted to know what made us tick, how we started and what we most wanted. In the spirit of the challenge I decided to answer the questionnaire:
What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
Blogging was almost accidental. Having decided to go to Ballymaloe I had so many people asking for updates, that blogging seemed to be the most efficient way of keeping them all up to date. A former student had written that blogging reinforced her learning process and made revision, there are stiff written as well as practical exams, easier. So Bills Ballymaloe Blog was born, and attracted over 10,0000 hits whilst I was there. localandgreat.blogspot the current blog is the follow on.
Who is your foodie inspiration
Years ago a young Darina Allen had an afternoon TV show “Simply Delicious” in which she demonstrated how easy cooking could be, and above all that ‘Cooking Is Fun’. I bought one of her books and began to expand my repertoire, discovering on the way that she was right about the fun and, that I could cook.
Your greasiest, batter-splattered food/drink book is?
It has to be the amazing Ballymaloe Cookery Course which you can often find in The Works for as little as £9.99. This book works as it contains the recipes cooked for over 30 years by nearly 200 students per year. None of @this serves 30 but we’ve reduced it to feed four’ so the ratios are wrong and it won’t work. I have three copies, the obligatory grease spattered one, the signed by Darina version, and a new one that I will replace the first with when it finally falls apart.
Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
I love Italian food and the food of the Amalfi Coast in particular. The small village of Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, in the hills above Sorrento is home to Don Alfonso1892 a Michelin starred restaurant where Alfonso Jaccarino cooks organic produce from his own farm or the seas immediately below it.
The tasting menu is incredible but my absolute favourite is the Lobster in Tempura batter with a reduced fish sauce. The freshest fish in a light and crispy batter with a deep sauce to accompany, I have it every time!
Another food blogger’s table you’d like to eat at is?
I am often tempted by Carol Adams (corpulent capers) descriptions of her food and share the love of good restaurants that she and Gomez Adams share on Twitter.
What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
Janet would say that I have too many, my four favourite words are Bamix, Magimix, Kenwood and Gaggia but, if money really were no object it would have to be a blast chiller.
Who taught you how to cook?
I was largely self- taught and muddled along nicely for 30 odd years until I went to Ballymaloe where Darina Allen, Rachel Allen and Rory O’Connell honed my skills and taught me so much. So if anyone it was they, and the talented and dedicated team of teachers in school who developed my abilities and passion.
I’m coming to you for dinner. What’s your signature dish?
I make a mean chicken liver pate, learned great tomato sauces in Italy so a pasta main course with locally sourced meats, and a Vanilla Ice Cream with the freshest vanilla pods imaginable from old friend Arun @greensaffron and a Pedro Ximines sherry poured over it.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Fish Finger Sandwiches on Braces’ XXX Thick white bread, loads of Heinz Ketchup.
Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I really only got confidence in my cooking after I reached the national finals of Britain’s Best Dish and Ed Baines and John Burton- Race encouraged me to train.
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