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About Me

Hi there, and welcome!

This blog began as a diary of sorts, capturing my journey around Europe in a camper van, seeking out wonderful food experiences. When we first set out on our journey we were unsure how long it would last or what we would do when it was finished. Ultimately, I wanted live a life that involved great food – humble, honest and delicious food. I wanted not only to eat this food but also somehow to make a living from it. How I was going to achieve this was not (and is not yet!) quite clear.

After three months on the road we took what was supposed to be a short break in Lithuania (where my husband is from) to fix some problems with our camper van. A few weeks into our stay an opportunity arose to buy a small house with a few acres of land in our village. Houses rarely come on the market in our village so we jumped at the opportunity.

In light of this move our plan has changed. While we still plan to do some travelling we intend to make Lithuania our base for the foreseeable future. We want to renovate the house into a comfortable country cottage and use the land to be as self-sufficient as possible. We will raise chickens for meat and eggs, keep a cow (and perhaps a goat) for milk, pigs for meat and grow an array of wonderful vegetables that will feed us both summer and winter. We would like all of our produce to be organic – something that is quite common here. Our desire is to make as much as possible of our food from scratch, including dairy products (cheese, yoghurt, cream and butter), meat products (such as sausages & smoked meats) and baked goods (breads and baked snacks). Where we can’t or don’t produce the raw ingredients ourselves we will source these locally, ideally from neighbours so that we can be certain of their quality & provenance.

In addition, I would like to develop a food product that I can sell to earn a reasonable living. Again, I would want to this product to use our own produce or locally sourced organic produce. I have a few ideas in mind but haven’t made a final decision just yet.

As is evident in some of my recent posts, the content of this blog is changing to reflect our new ventures. It is still, ultimately, a blog about my journeys with food – now focused on growing and producing it myself. As this is something I haven’t done before I am liable to hit some bumps! I will be writing about how we’re settling into our new life (which is a major lifestyle change for me in particular) our renovations, setting up our garden and greenhouse, acquiring our livestock and our strides towards being as self-sufficient as we can be, not only with our food but also with our alcoholic beverages, home décor and some clothing. I am also striving to hone my photography skills and hope to include some postcards along the way.

I hope that you will stay with us on this new adventure. Your feedback and comments are always most welcome, so please do let us know what you think.

Bye for now,

June Molloy Vladička.
(December 2013)

Our Journey So Far:
In early 2013 I was given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy from my job in eircom, Ireland’s largest telecoms provider. I was unhappy in my job and longed for a more fulfilling life, ideally one which enabled me to spend more time focused on food – my one true passion. After 13 years of service with eircom, the severance package would provide me with sufficient funding to follow my food passion in earnest. And so, my husband Arūnas and I decided to undertake a great food odyssey. We purchased a camper van and in early May we set off on an odyssey around Europe, exploring a world of exciting food. You can read about our exploits on this blog. A summary of the route we took is available on the “Map” page.

A Brief History of my Life with Food:
When I was in my early teens I saw a film called “Kane & Abel” that would leave me with two lasting ambitions – one, to marry an Eastern European and the other to be a Hotelier. I have accomplished one and almost accomplished the other.

Despite warnings about long hours and poor pay, I studied Hotel & Catering Management for four years at Dublin Institute of Technology. The course was a particularly arduous one as it not only covered all the business aspects of management, but also covered hotel and food industry aspects such as cooking, butchery, food & beverage service, nutrition and food hygiene. I have to concede that these were the elements of the course I enjoyed most. (Economics was seriously not for me.)

As part of the course we were required to undertake a six-month internship at a hotel. I was lucky enough to secure a position at Ireland’s prestigious Ashford Castle. My role was as Receptionist/Concierge, welcoming guests to the hotel and helping them to book local excursions and such like. After my six months I returned to college for my final year, but went back to Ashford Castle as soon as I finished, this time as hostess in the George V restaurant. This fabulous restaurant serves exquisite food in opulent surroundings. I loved the pomp and ceremony of the restaurant, where all dishes were served covered with cloches and fine wines were decanted over candlelight. It was one of my favourite jobs of all time.
After my second stint in Ashford I went to the USA, where I worked as a Food & Beverage Manager. While I still loved working in hotels I began to tire of the long hours and poor pay that I had originally been warned against. When I returned to Ireland I set about finding a job with more regular hours and so moved away from food & beverage and back to reception. But even that required weekend work. I really missed socialising with my friends and family so I left hotels completely and got a “normal” job in the bank. Soon afterwards I joined eircom, Ireland’s largest telecoms provider, where I remained until February 2013.

During my time away from hotels I never lost my love of food & beverage. I love to cook from scratch and spend much of my time shopping for new and exciting ingredients. I love to entertain and my friends will tell you that I throw a damn fine dinner party. While my love of food never went away, it was reinvigorated when I spotted a competition on the Internet to win a three-month cookery course at Ireland’s famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. The competition involved creating a dish and getting the general public to vote for the dish online. In a bid to increase my votes I created a dedicated Facebook page, and so my food blog was born. It has evolved over time and has become my greatest passion.

My Food Principles:
(Strongly influenced by Michael Pollan’s seminal work, “In Defence of Food”.)

  • Eat home-prepared foods – it’s the only way to truly know what’s in your food.
  • Eat traditional foods – they have stood the test of time and use local / indigenous ingredients, which are more easily and economically sourced.
  • Use a wide variety of ingredients.
  • Use local ingredients as much as possible.
  • Use organic ingredients as much as possible.
  • Support small and artisan producers.
  • Food is precious – waste nothing.
  • In so far as possible, don’t eat alone – eating should be a pleasurable, social experience.
  • Ignore the bulk of nutritional advice – it’s still a young science, fraught with debate and it swings violently in terms of what’s hot and what’s not. Besides, we’ve been doing fine without it for thousands of years.

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Glad you liked my post Solar Day and am enjoying what I’ve read of yours. We share some interests and beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2014
  2. Your food principles are brilliant. Look forward to reading more.

    Like this

    February 2, 2014
  3. I just found you through Linda’s Expat Eye blog. Sounds like you’ve had quite the adventures! And you happen to be in a corner of Lithuania that I hope to visit this spring. In May a friend and I are planning on spending a couple of nights in Palanga, and checking out the Curonian Spit and Zemaitija National Parks. Would you happen to have any recommendations in that neck of the woods? Things to see, restaurants to eat in?

    Like this

    January 29, 2014
    • Hi Daina. Thanks for stopping by the site. Unfortunately I rarely eat out these days as I no longer have a steady income. Over the years I have eaten in a number of restaurants on the “strip” in Palanga. None stood out as great meals, but equally all were tasty and enjoyable. Unfortunately I can’t remember any names. I find Palanga a bit touristy and as such I don’t think you’ll find anything earth-shattering in the food department. I would tend to stick to restaurants that serve Lithuanian foods as they’re more likely to get it right. I haven’t been to Zemanitija National Park yet and I’ve only seen the Curonian Spit from the sky. I find most of Lithuania to be beautiful though, especially the forests and especially in winter. I think you will have a lovely time. If you do find any great eateries please do let me know! Enjoy your trip. June.

      Like this

      January 30, 2014
      • Thanks, June! I figured Palanga would be touristy, but it also has a huge selection of hotels and,I presume, restaurants making it a good home base for three nights or so as we drive out to the parks. I’ve been to Vilnius (and Trakai) before, as well as to the Hill of Crosses, but haven’t spent any time in the western side of LT, so I’m looking forward to it. Bulk of my trip will be to Latvia (b/c I’m Latvian-American), but an American friend is coming with me, so I want to make sure he sees something more than just LV. :)

        Like this

        January 30, 2014
      • Palanga is definitely a good place to base yourselves for the few nights that you’re here. I never thought to mention – when we stayed in Palanga we stayed in an apartment rather than a hotel. In the summer the ladies are lined up along the side of the road with their photo albums hawking their apartments! I doubt they’d be out in this weather, but there must be apartments available. They’re generally cheaper than hotels with the added benefit of a kitchenette and private access. Just a thought!

        Like this

        January 30, 2014
  4. Hi June….many thanks for the like on my Edita Vilkeviciute blog….xx

    Like this

    January 29, 2014
  5. noveerotaaja #

    Labas – seems that Irish are invading the Baltics :) Have you already met up with Linda?
    Great blog (even though I am not interested in food, rather your opinion about Lithuania) – and really happy to read some more qualitative expat blogs about Baltics. Keep it up!

    Like this

    January 28, 2014
    • Thanks for reading and for you comments! Happy to show my love for Lithuania – I really do love being here. And I have so much more to explore, so I hope you’ll stop by from time to time!

      Like this

      January 28, 2014
  6. Hi June, thanks for stopping by my blog – I think I know your cousin ;) Niamh was telling me about your blog over Christmas and then Lady of the Cakes sent me a link yesterday ;) Small world! Linda.

    Like this

    January 3, 2014
    • Hey Linda! Likewise – thanks for dropping by! Was just reading your two “recent posts” and all the comments – yikes! Hopefully it will peter out soon. J.

      Like this

      January 3, 2014
      • Ha, yeah, it’s been a pretty intense time! I’m still waiting to get beaten up in the street but it hasn’t happened yet ;) It’s died down a good bit, thank god! Just the odd straggler ;)

        Like this

        January 3, 2014
  7. June, I was thinking of you yesterday while we sang Silent Night in Lithuanian “Tyli naktis, šventa naktis” in our work carol singing (we try to sing something in the language of all the nationalities who work in the Dublin office). Lovely to hear of your latest ventures and I hope we’ll be seeing your product on Irish shelves soon. All the best from all of the Carrolls – Mam sends her love.

    Like this

    December 13, 2013
    • Thanks Lyn! I must try learning a few songs in Lithuanian myself – it’s a great way to learn a language. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Say Hi to your mam for me. J.

      Like this

      December 13, 2013
  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I’m glad you liked the recipe for the pecan pie. ;-)
    I love your plan to travel around in the camper van. I had similar plans a few years ago, but things keep getting in the way. Still haven’t even got the camper :-(
    Good travels ;-)

    Like this

    October 27, 2013
  9. oureverydayadventures365 #

    Thanks for stopping by our blog

    Like this

    October 20, 2013
  10. Hi June…i know Arunas and caught the last 5 mins of your radio interview on RTE. you are travelling my dream…i was so close to buying a camper van last November when i retired. love my food and wine. looking forward to following your journey. Bon Voyage.

    Like this

    August 11, 2013
    • There’s no time like the present, Noel! This time next year you could be looking back saying how you NEARLY bought a van or you could be telling us that you actually DID buy a van, and regaling us with a year’s worth of travel stories! As Nike would say, Just do it!
      In the meantime, hope you enjoy the blog. Thanks for following!

      Like this

      August 11, 2013
  11. oh, that does sound amazing :)

    Like this

    July 9, 2013
    • Thanks Lorna! It’s certainly been amazing so far – loving every minute!

      Like this

      July 12, 2013
  12. Eric #

    Saw your van going along the seafront in Malaga a few hours ago so checked your site when I got back to my hotel.

    Well done. I’ll be coming back to look again.

    Good luck on your travels.

    Like this

    June 23, 2013
    • Thanks for checking out the site, Eric! I should have a post or two about Andalucia in the next week or so, so keep an eye! June.

      Like this

      June 23, 2013
  13. Love the idea of your blog and your trip sounds amazing! Really hope that all goes well with you and your trip.

    Like this

    June 16, 2013
  14. Justine #

    Hi June, my husband and I are on a very similar quest as yourselves! Last year we both quit our jobs to follow our dream of getting back on the road! 15 years ago we headed off around Europe in a home made camper van and stayed away for the guts of two years. When we came back to Ireland, the country seemed to have gone mad on property and getting on the ladder! We – going against our gut – jumped on the ladder too! Ten years went by in the blink of an eye! It took until last year for us to say “enough – this is not what we want from life!” We upgraded to an American Camper and last May headed off on the ferry to France! We spent an amazing summer on the North east coast of Italy, then over to Sardinia for six weeks and back to France via home! We were away just over six months! It was liberating! We are heading off again on the ferry to France on 25th of May. Like yourselves our motto is “The plan is no plan!” But we’re roughly heading to Spain for the summer season and then who knows, maybe Morocco? It would be great to meet yez in person somewhere on the open highway :) I would also be delighted to offer any advice too! It’s a great life you are embarking on and we have never looked back in regret, you only get one life! If you are planning on visiting Italy, I would highly recommend Ravenna! We have some great chef pals there that I could introduce you to! Best of luck Justine and Dave

    Like this

    April 30, 2013
    • Justine and Dave – your trips sound amazing! Two years first time round and now another six months under your belt. You must have experienced so much. We would definitely love to meet up with you to swap stories and get any advice you might have – I’ll e-mail you directly to arrange. Thanks a million for getting in touch! June & Arūnas.

      Like this

      May 1, 2013
  15. Thanks Frank! Your own trip sounds amazing and exactly the type of thing we’re after. If you have any tips on good foodie places to visit – markets, fishing villages, etc. we’d be delighted to hear from you. The guide books are so high level – you can’t beat word-of-mouth to find the little gems. Enjoy your onward travels. June.

    Like this

    April 7, 2013
  16. Frank #

    Hi June, Arunas, I heard you on Mooney prog RTE as I was driving towards Cherburg a week or 10 days ago. I’d spent since November in Algarve in my campervan.
    It is, in mho, the only way to holiday. You can suss out wee villages, fishing harbours, wineries, fruit & veg markets etc, and each is an adventure! I wish you every success & gr8 enjoyment, & I will follow your Odyssey with great interest.
    Frank Scott

    Like this

    April 6, 2013
  17. Thanks Carmel – really appreciate that. Those summer holidays of yours sound fantastic! If you have any suggestions of places off the beaten track that we should visit, please do let us know.

    Like this

    March 27, 2013
  18. Carmel Foley #

    Listening to your interview with Brenda today am jealous !!
    Have travelled through many European countries during summer hols , mostly staying in a tent ,loving cooking local foods , eating from local markets and drinking local wines
    Found that places off the beaten track are just wonderful
    Wishing you the v best of luck , trouble free driving and a wonderful experience never to be forgotten for all the best reasons

    Like this

    March 27, 2013

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  3. Escuela de Jamón Ibérico « Las Posadas de Alájar
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