comments 31

2011 – the final instalment

So, where was I? 2011. So, Comfort & Spice had just been published, which was a heart stoppingly nervous time. I won the OFM Best Food Blogger Award (my heart still jumps when I type that!) and I started my Evening Standard column.

I was also doing a little travelling, well a lot of travelling. Which makes me so happy, as cooking, writing and travelling are the three things that I love to do, and this is what I have been working towards for almost 5 years. Taking the jump was scary but I am glad I did it. It has been hard at times, and very hard work, but worth it.

Roman Ampitheatre in Pula, Istria

My next trip was to Istria. It had been planned for months with my friend Denise who writes The Wine Sleuth. She has some friends who import wine from Croatia – PC Wines – and they said if we wanted to come over, they had an apartment we could stay in and that – obviously – they knew lots of winemakers, but also some food producers. It seemed a perfect trip. I had been to Dalmatia some years earlier (pre blog life) and island hopped there. I had had a thwarted attempt to fly to Istria too, we were turned away because Ryanair were being evil about a slightly ruffled passport, and wouldn’t let us fly. I burst into tears, I had been looking forward to it so much.

Anyway! So we went to Istria. It was so lovely, so different to Dalmatia (which is lovely in its own way but it is like a different country). People are very passionate and dedicated to whatever they turn their hand to, and are very much wedded to their land. In the case of wine expressing their terroir, and for food too many to mention but lots of great wild food, brilliant olive oil and truffles. Lots of truffles.

At a mushroom festival in Istria

I went for a week, but could easily have stayed longer. It was a very interesting trip with lots of things to tell, which I will soon. I plan to go back soon too.

Visiting Piquentum winery in Istria, Croatia

Istrian truffles (at a truffle festival)

I went to Duck Soup 5 times, and eventually wrote about it. I love it there.

Duck Soup - I think one of my favourite openings of 2011

Then I went to Seville…

Lovely Sevilla

And ate lots of lovely tapas

And ate lots of lovely tapas

And I visited an Iberico de Bellota pig farm, and a jamon factory - BIG highlight

I was nominated for a Red Hot Women Award. Which was pretty amazing. I didn’t win but being nominated is pretty ace.

I went to Hong Kong & Beijing. That was incredible and I have yet to write about it, but as you can see I was very busy!

Beijing Snowman

Peking Ducks

Dumplings in Hong Kong


At the Great Wall of China

I went back to market for a couple of weeks which was great, but hard work, and financially very challenging when using the best ingredients. So I have retired now. Maybe another market, another time.

I went back to market for a couple of weeks and sold my blaa pork rolls, amongst other things

I cooked a big Comfort & Spice Xmas lunch at Blacks for lots of people. Great fun and I loved being in a proper kitchen cooking for so many people.

Spiced cider and bacon jam on toast served before lunch

Overnight Roast Pork Shoulder for main course

I made Whiskey Bacon Jam for market, and published the recipe. It has proved popular over Xmas!

I made Whiskey Bacon Jam for market, and published the recipe

The year finished on an exhausted high, with Comfort & Spice being listed in The Irish Times Best Foodie Books of 2011 and in The Telegraph’s Christmas Books: Cookery Special list.

And that was 2011 folks. Brilliant but very hard work, and I am tired now. I am really geared up for 2012 but will start gently, based mainly in London. I hope to kick start my next book very soon, and I have even more travel plans than last year.

Sometimes it is challenging trying to do everything, and often I wonder if anyone is reading, even though I can see that you are in the stats (lots of you!). Comments are very welcome I promise. When no one responds, I wonder why I bother. It seemed everyone would comment like crazy with a give away – literally in their hundreds. That may seem whiney, and it is, but it is the truth so there you go. A little comment every now and then would be really lovely – thank you! I know people comment on twitter, and I do appreciate that, but it is not the same thing.

So the next post will be after a full nights sleep, the first in a while. I should be bouncing to the kitchen and then to my laptop. And I will probably regret the last paragraph. Hey ho!

And so on with 2012. This promises to be an exciting year too with my book being published in the US in April – I think I might need to make a trip there and bake folks some blaas! Well, why not, eh?

Happy New Year all and the very best for 2012. Back very soon with lots more food antics.



Filed under: Random


Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.


  1. Hey Niamh,
    Just wanted to say thanks for writing such an enjoyable and inspiring blog, it is a joy to see such gorgeous proper food, real, wholesome and delicious.

  2. Roisin says

    I love reading about your travel and cooking adventures and have been a faithful follower of your blog (via reader) since discovery. You certainly have a wonderful way with words, your descriptions are magnificently vivid. Happy new year!

  3. Well, I did say this on Twitter, but a heartfelt congratulations on your amazing year! However, I forgot just how amazing it was until the round up. It really and truly was your year and you thoroughly deserve all the success that you have had.

    I have been reading your blog for a few years now. You have been both intimidating, and inspirational. Of course, you have inspired me to cook, but also to start a food blog of my own, which has been intimidating, because I can only dream of being as good!

    Here’s to 2012, and I hope it gets bigger and better for you.

  4. Wow what a year Niamh! It has been great to share some of 2011 with you, particularly our trip to Canada. Here’s to an even better 2012.

    • That was a lovely trip Cara, and I do miss having you here although I am sure you are very happy in Oz. Hope to see you out there soon. I wish you a wonderful 2012 too.

  5. Hi Niamh, I only discovered your blog this year but was instantly captivated, and after salivating over your posts, went and bought your book which I adore!

    Your warmth shines through your writing and so enjoy your posts and tweets. Don’t ever give this up – you inspire many people; we should probably tell you a bit more often :-)

    Happy 2012 – I hope it’s as fulfilling and fun packed as the year just gone.

  6. Hi Niamh For some reason I’d been unsubscribed to your blog, probably down to the usual technical error not on my part. But now I’m back. reading it again. Glad to have read this round up of the year. I know what you mean about comments. Even though the stats show that people read what we write, it’s always nice to have them from time to time.

  7. Tamsin says

    Inspirational achievements .. and lovely photos to record your journey. I particularly like the parma ham warehouse. Charcuterie heaven! Best of luck to you for 2012, am sure it will be even better, and hopefully less tiring! x

  8. What a real pleasure it has been, reading about your travels and adventures (not to mention food) this last year. Hope you go from strength to strength, and one day hope to taste your amazing looking pork.
    You have opened my eyes to Istria, and if I can get Erik to renew his passport (long-standing feud there!) Istria will be to of my list for travelling and eating. Thanks so much for writing such a great blog – an inspiration to all us ‘novice’ bloggers. May this next year bring you much happiness and pleasure.
    Regards, Astrid

  9. Congratulations Niamh, what a wonderful year for you. I discovered your blog through the Evening Standard when I read about the delicious halloumi and pomegranate salad (it’s become a bit of a staple and I once again made it last night!).

    Keep up the frequent posting. Oh, and I wondered if you recommend any vegetarian/veg-friendly blogs?


  10. Suzanne says

    What a year, well done! So much achieved. Always enjoy reading the blog. Looking forward to hearing what you get up to in 2012.

  11. What a great year you’ve had, Niamh. I’ve enjoyed reading about all of your adventures and you’ve certainly inspired me to become a better food blogger. You should give yourself a pat on the back for that! Here’s hoping that 2012 is just as exciting for us all.

  12. Catherine Edwards says

    I just wanted to say I love love love your blog and I asked for and gratefully received your book for Christmas. So far I have made your chorizo and potato hash (don’t know how, it was on new year’s day and I was soooo hungover but determined to have a lush breakfast, and I made a non-overnight version of your roast pork and I have to say the spiced apple sauce was a revelation! Keep up the good work, I really look forward to your posts and they genuinely inspire me to cook more and also blog more.

  13. Congratulations on a truly fabulous year Niamh – you truly deserve a rest now. What adventures and achievements you have had. To be honest, I am more than a little envious of your travelling adventures. But at least I have my Gaggia now to keep me going til spring. Here’s to 2012 being even better for everyone. Happy New year to you!! X

  14. And so to the end of your year… it all looks so incredible to have lived through. I really do wish you well for this next year. I wish you a little rest too. But then, you must keep going, because on the evidence of all this and all who read and talk about you, you really are too much of a treasure to stop for too long. x

  15. anna rickards says

    thank you Niamh for a truly inspiiring food blog- this year among many things have enjoyedmy chicken with walnuts and pomegrantes for Valentines Day with a twist, hunted high and low for ndujua to make belly rolled pork with fennel for Xmas ( found in Fulham at Luigis) after reading about it on your blog and added Istria to my list of places i must go to!! ( and yet another return trip to Seville needed!)
    my resolution this year continues to be to continue to find new places to explore using food as a measure, taking inspiration from blogs such as yours and maybe even be brave enough to start writing a blog myself! well done on a successful year, for following your dreams and passion. Anna ( small blonde aussie !)

  16. I subscribe & read every post but don’t comment as I’m not a foodie – just someone interested in cooking & recipes. I do love reading your posts and am very much looking forward to your post on Beijing. I used to live in China & spent a month in Beijing – a culinary experience to say the least!
    Well done on your accomplishments in 2011. Here’s hoping 2012 is just as exciting for you!

    • Hi Emma, even nicer to hear from you then. The concept of a “foodie” drives me crazy. If you like to cook and like to eat, that is all that counts!

  17. I love that Great Wall of China photo! Gorgeous! What a year – was lovely to share some snippets of it with you. Now, come and visit me and Cara in Australia some day – you’ll never be lacking for great places to eat, drink, shop and be merry.

  18. Susan Gleasure says

    Hi I just started reading your blog this year after it was introduced to me by a friend …. I do not know how I never knew about it sooner …. I love it and I was super excited that you were going to be in Covent Garden but devastated that I had to work and missed out on meeting you! Well Happy New Year and heres to many more super posts!!!

  19. Tony Murphy says

    I only discovered your blog in the last month or so. I’m also from Waterford, now working in London, and was trying to introduce my wife (who’s Kurdish/Iraqi) to blaas. Wouldn’t you know it, I decided to go hunting for them on a Sunday morning and of course there’s none to be had. I’ve now got the recipe from your blog so hopefully can do the memories justice!
    Take care, will definitely come and visit the market stall if you do one again.

    • Thanks Tony! The blaa recipe is easy and will deliver perfect results if you follow the instructions. I have had many emails from readers delighted with the results! Enjoy.

  20. Just read your post and wanted to drop you a line to say I really enjoy your blog. I guess most bloggers struggle with the ‘is anyone actually reading this’ demon. Having just started a foodie blog myself I’m in that headspace now. I guess you have to keep at it!

  21. Maria says

    Catching up on your blog after Xmas…. (and after buying Comfort & Spice for myself as an early present in December).
    I heart Seville, and Beijing and the great wall – but mainly, *envy* that you got to visit the Iberico de Bellot pig farm. mmmmm ham (I’m half Spanish. Trips home to my parents always involve bringing back ham/chorizo/ I could go on…)

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)