Settling in to my new home for the next 3 months took no time at all and made all the more comfortable by living on the grounds of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. A tranquil oasis full of clucking hens, acres of gorgeous green gardens and beautiful farm animals only too eager to come and say hello. Our first week was so wonderful. Meeting new people and learning, sharing and inspiring so many creative ideas with food. We have had some amazing demo’s from Darina Allen and her brother Rory O’Connell. Simplicity is the key with these two chefs. Simple, honest food without the bells and whistles is what it is all about. After our first day touring the farm with Darina and being introduced to the Ballymaloe teachers, we donned our chef whites on Tuesday morning and set off on an adventure in the kitchen that is only going to get more exciting!
I had the absolute pleasure of being taught one on one, with Tim Allen, how to make sourdough. Over lunch on Thursday I asked him if we would be taught the basics of Sourdough and so he invited me into the kitchen to watch him create this magical piece of bread. Back in the kitchen again on Friday for it’s second proving and up early on Saturday morning to bake it. When I returned from the English Market on Saturday, he had left a half loaf of his freshly baked bread and a chunk of his homemade raw milk cheddar cheese on our kitchen table for me. So lovely. I’m fighting off my housemates to keep it all to myself!!
I had never been to the English Market before and couldn’t stop ogling all of the amazing meats, cheeses, breads and glorious food on display. I filled my shopping bag full of fresh pasta, Irish Farmhouse Cheeses (Milleens, St. Tola’s, Gubeen, Toonsbridge Dairy Bufalo Mozzarella), Irish Chorizo, Dips, Grilled Veg and Frank Hederman’s Smoked Salmon. A feast fit for a king (well, just me really!!)
Sunday was all about taking it easy. So after a gorgeous, bracing walk down to Garryvoe Strand, I headed off on a little farm/garden walk around Ballymaloe with my housemate, Carrie. I am absolutely smitten with the gorgeous hens pottering around the place. Right across from our cottage is the Palais des Poulets (Chicken Palace) so every morning we get a nice awakening from these birdies. There are some rather grand and peculiar looking hens.
We had been down to the farm a couple of times already but seeing it so peaceful on a Sunday morning was pretty magical with the Ballymaloe Greenhouse and outside field full of seasonal organic produce. Haulie, the gardener here at Ballymaloe looks after all of this and each day he brings a few students down to the farm to pick the veggies and salad leaves for that day’s lunch. I love cooking with produce that has literally just been pulled out of the ground.
We ventured on over to say hi to the pigs. The minute we arrived at the fence they came trudging up the field to us. So eager to see what we were up to. This little guy was giving his nose a good scratch off the rope.
As we made our way back to the cottages, we came across a family of Geese, out for a picnic by the pond.
And so, my first week at Ballymaloe has been pretty spectacular. I keep having to pinch myself when I remember just exactly where I am. Embracing every moment and mouthful on this amazing journey of mine!