I've been completely plagued about providing an update to the course in Ballymaloe by loads of people... I'm going to do this quickly as I could ramble on for pages about how great the course is, but in summary, it's lived up to all my expectations & more.
On Monday, we were given a tour of the gardens, glasshouses and grounds. We saw the wonderful shell house as well as the piglets, milking parlour, cottages, orchards, compost heap (v important) and of course, Palais de Poulets. Lunch was soup followed by a plate of local tasty treats and the afternoon was a masterclass in chopping. We were told early on in the morning that Darina could not be with us as her mum was extremely ill; unfortunately, Mrs. O'Connell passed away on Thursday morning but I guess it may have come as a relief to the family as I know how difficult it is to watch a loved one suffer.
On Tuesday, we were given a tour of the kitchens and got to grips with our new knives which was cool (and a little bloody). There are 4 kitchens and each student must share a work area in one of those kitchens with a partner. The groups are given a list of dishes to cook and between partners, must decide who cooks what. An order of work must be written up before cooking commences and partners, areas & kitchens are shuffled every week.
The opportunity is there to do so much; I've signed up for a night in the kitchen at Ballymaloe House, a Saturday working on the Farmers Market stall, a Saturday in the Crawford Gallery kitchen and a weekly gardening class which is proving most informative.
Wednesday was our first proper day cooking and I loved it. I made a gruyere & dill tart, mediterranean salad and a jar of wild rocket pesto which I brought home with me - delicious! Thursday was a theory day which began with a cheese lecture followed by wine tasting (happy days) and the aftenoon hosted lectures on fire safety and food hygene which taught me an awful lot that I didn't already know.
There was a real buzz about the school on Friday afternoon as Rachel Allen was in to give the afternoon demonstration on Mexican food. Wow, sometimes she seems a bit scatty on the tv but in reality I can completely understand why she got snapped up, she was so lovely and flew through about 15 dishes aswell as making time to learn peoples names. I left for the weekend happy as a pig in you-know-what and looking forward to getting started again on Monday morning.
I've an 8 mile drive to the school each morning and to say the setting is idyllic would be a gross understatement. Rolling hillsides, stone walls, sea views, heaven! It's worth a trip down just for the views but when you get down, there's so much to do. The cliff walk in Ballycotton, beach walk (or kite-surfing) in Garryvoe, Stephen Pearce Gallery in Shanagarry not to mention a tour of the fabulous school & gardens at Ballymaloe.
Better go... I'll check back next week...