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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Brilliant Bloggers

Blogging has been somewhat disrupted by the arrival of my grandchildren for their annual holiday, though cooking with them has provided some good stuff for a future blog.

 However I am back in the groove and would like to start with a couple of bloggers whom I admire and follow.

Both are so much more than mere bloggers, both are inspirational and both also have regularly published newspaper columns, and have written books.

First up is Mona Wise who blogs as Wise Words.

Mona is a Galway girl, well Claregalway to be precise, and provides a running commentary on family life, good seasonal foods and restaurant reviews. But Mona is so much more besides.

She recently commenced a degree in Creative Writing and, as part of her course work had to produce a major piece of writing. Throwing herself into the project Mona wrote and published her first book in an amazing 24 weeks, thus meeting the university deadline and earning a distinction to carry forward in the quest for her degree.

I first came across her when researching recipes for a Buttermilk plant and Google turned up her blog . I was captivated by the writing style and rapidly added Wise Words to my favourites bar and followed her on Twitter (@WiseMona). In her own words “She writes, he cooks, the kids make a huge mess”. Mona writes about life as it happens and with a chef as a husband and an extended American Irish family there is a lot of cooking going on.

The Chef and I (a nourishing narrative) is the first book, I say first as Mona plans a trilogy and covers her emigration to the states, meeting and marrying Ron, establishing a restaurant, building her family and eventual return to Ireland. The writing style is entertaining and involving, often pulling the heartstrings, and to use a cliché “unputdownable”.

The second part of the book is a series of recipes from Ron, all very manageable and using good ingredients in a sensitive way to make the most of them.

The recipes are so good that Ron and Mona have a regular column in the Irish Sunday Times and- for those who cannot get it- they also appear on the blog.

I was gutted that I could not attend the book launch in Galway in May, the simple logistics of travel prevented me, but the book is one of my most treasured. Describing her studies Mona says that she was told to “find your voice”, in The Chef and I she certainly has found her voice and it calls to many of us.

The second blogger is a new entrant to the blogosphere but one that is well worth a follow, I am amazed that it has taken so long but, given her incredibly busy life I am not altogether surprised.

She is a personal inspiration, a legend in culinary circles, author, brilliant teacher and principal ofBallymaloe Cookery School , government advisor, President of Slow Food, Forager and all round star – Darina Allen.

With a number of great books behind her, and a regular column in the Weekend section of the Irish Examiner, TV and Radio appearances- both this side of the Atlantic and the other- Darina has taught many of today’s top chefs (think Rachel Allen, Thomasina Myers, Clodagh McKenna, Catherine Fulvio, James Ramsden, Lilly Higins) and has much to say not just about cooking but ingredients, the environment, supply chains and farming.

Well worth a read and, as the subjects of her first few blogs have been foraging and eating sea urchins on Inis Mean, edible tarantulas in Phnom Pen, Fluffy Chicks and Cookery books written by Ballymaloe Graduates.

Darina genuinely is an inspiration and you should definitely follow her blog

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