Revisiting Ireland

Ahh, are we starting to see green yet? I mean, there’s no grass growing in snowy Ottawa, but St. Patrick’s Day is everywhere on cookie icing to shamrocks for sale in grocery stores. Do you celebrate? I can’t say I’ve ever had green beer but I do know that in my Ottawa pub-going student days, I would love the joyousness that the Irish holiday would bring to the city.

In recent years, our darling Beau’s Brewery has started an annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It’s worth going to! Here are some snaps from 2018.

The influence of Irish culture is very strong in Canada but I never thought I would end up going to Ireland until I found the mecca of cooking schools was situated there. For those who don’t know, I actually got proper chef training at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. It was for their 12 week intensive where you live on their 100 acre organic farm and learn the nitty gritty of all things farm to table. Basically, it was a 2 year college program condensed into 3 months.

People in the town, Shanagarry, I was in were perplexed at how the world outside of Ireland goes absolutely nuts over St Patrick’s Day. When I was driving around the country on the holiday while I was there, a radio station hypothesized that people are endeared by Ireland since it’s quite a safe and peaceful place with temperate weather. Whatever the reason, we love a little Irish spirit here in Canada, especially at the tail end of our long arduous winters…

Below I’ve, FINALLY, conglomerated all of my blog posts written while I was living in Ireland over the 5 months. I really wanted to make a point to document my experience at cooking school since it was such a pivotal time in my life but also because so many generous people contributed to my going there.

‘But, Eva, you said the cooking course was only 3 months, why were you there for 5 months?’. Good question you astute reader! I extended my visa and stayed there to take a 2 week business of food course. Then after that was a literary food festival I could not miss. I asked the festival if I could volunteer as a food writer and journal the goings ons of it. Sorry, Shanagarry, you couldn’t get rid of me. I had the privilege of meeting and learning from the brilliant minds of Rene Redzepi, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Sandor Katz just to name a few. Definitely check out my blog posts from the festival.

I mean, I think they know what they have there! Such a great community of people with tight knit friendships and an incredibly social culture. There’s something we can learn from Ireland in the people’s generosity, warmness and love of sharing music, stories and a pint or two (or three).

I miss it everyday! Thank you again to everyone who make it possible for me to get there. Ireland truly changed who I am in every way and I can’t wait to go back. To the people in Ireland reading this, thank you for taking me in and showing me around your beautiful country.

Ballymaloe 12 Week Course blog

Ballymaloe LitFest

Business of Food Course