Last year’s Lit Fest was – officially – a blast. Three whirlwind days of ideas and education and inspiration from cookbook heroes. I learned how to ferment cabbage from Sandor Katz, make Claudia Roden’s chocolate cake, went foraging with Alys Fowler, listened to Madhur Jaffrey talk about curry and got to participate in Jancis Robinson’s tutored wine tasting.
In May, we’re heading back to Ballymaloe to do it all over again, this time with legends like Elizabeth David editor Jill Norman, Noma’s René Redzepi, Mexican authority Diana Kennedy, Aussie kitchen doyenne Maggie Beer, Middle Eastern stars Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Some of my other must-do events include film maker Mirra Fine and chef/activist Daniel Klein’s The Perennial Plate film screenings and Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton from the brilliant Canal House Cooking series talking about how they self-publish beautiful, seasonal cookbooks. Their daily Canal House Cooks Lunch email is both inspiring – making you very hungry! – and infuriating: nothing I eat for lunch ever looks so beautiful.
Together with Joe McNamee, I’m also co-ordinating a Big Shed event on Saturday 17 May, from 12pm to 2pm.
Ravenous: The Cookbook Chronicles
What cookbooks in your collection do you love/hate/use all the time/have hardly ever opened but can’t bear to part with?
We want you to tell us all about the cookbooks in your life and what they mean to you, ranging from the most stained, tattered and dog-eared old ‘bible’ to the glossy tomes you’ve hardly opened since the day you first brought them home. And most of all we want to hear about your cookbook epiphany, that pivotal moment when a cookbook or recipe changed your culinary life – for better or worse.
Bring along your favourite/most detested/crappiest/best cookbook to the Big Shed and speak to us and all the other cookbook fanatics about it for a whole two minutes with prizes (of cookbooks, naturally!) for best speakers.
We’ll be looking for volunteers for this – you have been warned! Want to sign up? Tweet @Bibliocook or @JozeeMac with the hash tag #ravenous and we’ll give you a time slot.
Some readings and discussions are free, film screenings are €5 and workshops start at €15. Download the programme here, print it out and start making your list.
More information here: Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine