From the Atlantic to the Alps

A tale of two kitchens

About_cliona cropped



Hi and welcome to barnacle – my ‘foodography’ outlet. This is the place I come to air my foodie fantasies! Thanks for stopping by! My name is Cliona and I’m from a small island off the west coast of Ireland … but I currently live in the beautiful (and landlocked!) Switzerland. I came over after university for a six-month stint, met a Swiss lad and am still here! I miss Ireland something wicked, but Switzerland is a lovely spot, too. Both places get a regular mention here on my blog, but whenever I speak of ‘home’, I always mean Ireland, or more specifically, Inishbofin.



What can you expect from my blog?

A very mixed bag, really – ideas, recipes, musings, photos. Low fat, high fat, no fat (ok, less of the latter perhaps!). You may find that I lean ever so slightly towards the baking end of the spectrum, but there’s also plenty of savoury goodies. It depends on the mood that takes me. And on the season. But basically, what you’ll find here is very much a reflection of who I am – a busy working mom with a slight tendency to go OTT when let loose in the kitchen. During the week, I aim for uncomplicated and fast (yet healthy) dishes; my weekends meanwhile whizz by in flurries of flour and clouds of steam. Also, I love having guests over – it gives me an excuse to go a bit mad in the kitchen and test new creations on them!

Most of my recipes use readily available ingredients and fairly straightforward instructions. Wherever possible, I like to use natural, seasonal, locally sourced produce. And when time allows, I love to make things like pasta and puff pastry from scratch, test exciting new products, flick through my umpteen cookbooks for inspiration and come up with unusual combos.

I don’t like waste – so pretty much everything you see on this blog is meant for consumption. More often than not, my family is waiting hungrily in the flanks, forks poised, ready to spear the contents of my photo set! Also, given the time constraints associated with work/family life, I tend to blog on weekends only. And not every weekend either, mind. It takes time to plan, test, cook, style and photograph a recipe, and my family has top priority.

Why blog in the first place?

Two reasons: a) I love food and cooking and b) I love talking about it. Cooking is my way of letting off steam (excuse the pun). It’s my outlet. The creative me. And it provides the perfect counterbalance to the day job.

Cooking has always played a central role in my life. My parents had a restaurant on the island, so I learned the catering ropes from an early age. My mother – an exceptional cook – baked and cooked up a storm every single day. I really couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Growing up in that environment provided me with the tools I needed to work in many a catering establishment after that. And although my own career finally took me in a different direction, my love for all things food never abated. I basically eat, sleep and breathe the stuff. A notebook to jot down ideas is always close at hand. Cookbooks, cuttings from cookery columns, foodie magazines, recipes from my travels are piled high on my bedside table.

My friends and family have been on my case for a while – to do something about my obsession! Or rather do something with it. And so my blog was born.

What’s with the name barnacle?

Well, rather than go with a foodie name, I really just wanted something to reflect who I am. I’m an island girl. And while you can take the girl off the island, you can’t take the island out of the girl. I am basically always homesick. So I wanted a name that would connect me to home. Since my surname translates from Irish to mean ‘wild goose’ or ‘barnacle goose’, and barnacles happen to be found in abundance up and down the coast, it just felt right.

As for the ‘culinary journey’ part – well, I’ve travelled and lived abroad a good bit since finishing school, have worked in a few kitchens, and, over the years, have picked up lots of great ideas and tips from all sorts of wonderful people and places. Food and drink connect people – and they’ve certainly made my journey special.