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.
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.