Did any of you watch “Living the Dream” last night on RTE 1, I missed the first half as I was at La Cucina but Bru watched it all. It was about a couple from Nenagh, who went to the Emilia Romagna region to live their dream life for a week. Are they the couple that own the Country Choice Cafe does anyone know?? I love watching these type of programmes as they give a real insight into Italian living from an Irish perspective, they were a really nice couple too, very charming and embraced Italian culture with open arms. I have spoke about the Agriturissmo before and they had to work there for a few days, they are amazing places as they produce everything on their own farms, even one lady brought in her glass milk bottles to the farm shop everyday for her fresh milk.

The most amazing part for me was definitely the Parmesan cheese production, it really is an amazing process and that store room was probably worth millions. The mafia have actually started to rob trucks carrying consignments of Parmesan cheese as they are worth so much. They usually target them at the Autogrill when the driver’s stop for a coffee. In Ireland the Securicor vans are targeted but not in Italy – as always food is a more attractive option, Italians and their bellies:) I loved the way the father and son worked in silence and the father was the “Maestro”, everything had to be passed by him, this is so true of everything in Italy, the elders are really respected members of the community and approval is always sought from the parents no matter what age you are as they know best!!! I have been dreaming of fresh ricotta with some crunchy Italian bread since – mmmmmmm!!!

My 5 minutes of fame has resumed and is scheduled for 3.30-4pm tomorrow on the Derek Mooney show, hopefully it won’t be cancelled again!!

A few people have asked me for this recipe and it is probably one of the simplest sauces you can make but do try and get your hands on an Italian brand of tinned tomatoes or some good quality plum tomatoes.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 fresh chilli, seeded and chopped
  • dried chilli flakes
  • 400g tin Italian tomatoes
  • 350g penne – we usually just measure using our pasta plates.
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt


 – heat the oil in a frying pan and cook your garlic until brown and remove. Leave the oil to cool for a couple of mins and add your chilli and a sprinkle of dried chilli.

 – cook for a couple of minutes and add your tomatoes, season with salt and cook for 15 mins.

 – cook your penne in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente, drain and add to pan with sauce.

 – toss for a couple of mins over a high heat and serve with  a sprinkle of fresh parsley.