In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the butter. When the butter melts, cook the onion, carrot, celery, and a generous pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the vegetables cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more.
Add the barley and turn up the heat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, currants, stock or water, and pepper.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Cook the pilaf, stirring often, for 35 minutes or until the barley is cooked through and has absorbed all of the liquid.
Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if you like, and sprinkle with almonds and parsley. Serve at once.