12 week program

Ballymaloe Week 4 / ...what you make it

How was everyone's SUPERBOWWL SUNDAY!? / Groundhog Day / Imbolc / Chinese New Year?? I couldn't imagine having a more magical time in this country. A lot of it had to do with blind faith that I would achieve all my expectations - a hard one if you've been through some tough times... I went to Cork for the evening. Beautiful beautiful city.. (The locals don't believe it's a city - population is around 300,000)

Below are some photos of my house mates plucking and cooking wild hunted partridge, pheasant and goose.

Gruesome? Yes.

Awkward? Certainly.

Before I get into that, I should say that I'm very fortunate to live with such ambitious people. After volunteering to help clean up a little longer, they received these birds as gifts from the staff so we could practice our culinary skills.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Prawn Crisps.. for all my Pho lovers back in Ottawa - One of my proudest food styling so far.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Prawn Crisps.. for all my Pho lovers back in Ottawa - One of my proudest food styling so far.

This is one of the reasons why I chose to come here above all other cooking schools. The cooking skills we learn go beyond fine dining. It connects us to our food on many deep levels.

Recently, I also offered to help with cooking classes so I could get more experience with teaching. It was Imbolc themed, or St. Bridget's Day - the midway point of winter that celebrates the Patron Saint of Dairy - St. Bridget. There was a demo open to the public about Bastille Bread (a soda bread made in a stoneware pot) and a demo on homemade butter.

Prepping.
Prepping.
Learning how to make St. Bridget's Cross.
Learning how to make St. Bridget's Cross.
Little 'dote' making butter for the first time.
Little 'dote' making butter for the first time.
First wild flowers of the year - snow drops!
First wild flowers of the year - snow drops!
We did it!
We did it!
My own home made butter and gluten free White Chocolate Cranberry Scones
My own home made butter and gluten free White Chocolate Cranberry Scones
Yeasted Corn Meal Sandwich Bread
Yeasted Corn Meal Sandwich Bread

I've never understood food more in my life.. and it just makes me hungry for more.

Speaking of which...

!HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS OF CAKES!

My Gluten Free Candied Kumquat and Whipped Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
My Gluten Free Candied Kumquat and Whipped Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
Candied Edible Flowers to garnish this one...
Candied Edible Flowers to garnish this one...
Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake
Orange Cake
Orange Cake
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Parsnip Cake
Parsnip Cake
Gingerbread & Whipped Cream
Gingerbread & Whipped Cream

LOCAL SEA FOOD AND TRADITIONAL IRISH BREAKFASTS

Mini Lobster. How cute!
Mini Lobster. How cute!
My seafood platter: Home Made Mayo, Oysters, Shrimp, Clams & Mussels
My seafood platter: Home Made Mayo, Oysters, Shrimp, Clams & Mussels
Moss pudding! Instead of gelatine, you soak milk in seaweed, which exudes a jelling agent. So lovely!!
Moss pudding! Instead of gelatine, you soak milk in seaweed, which exudes a jelling agent. So lovely!!
My Irish Breakfast! Gluten Free Toast, Fried Tomato, Mushroom Cap, Lamb Kidney, Back Rasher, Streaky Bacon, Potato Cake, Blood Pudding
My Irish Breakfast! Gluten Free Toast, Fried Tomato, Mushroom Cap, Lamb Kidney, Back Rasher, Streaky Bacon, Potato Cake, Blood Pudding
Waffels
Waffels
Amazing Granola, Oatmeal & Fruit Salad Spread!
Amazing Granola, Oatmeal & Fruit Salad Spread!

And that's that.. So much more to learn - I'm about half way through the course! Living in the moment is a challenge but it's well worth it.. I hope I can carry on this spirit throughout my life afterwards. I swear though.. there must be something funny in the air in these parts...

Ballymaloe Week 1 / Humble Beginnings and World Travels

Where to begin? The first week is finally over and all the students are thrilled. Ballymaloe Cookery School is a 'full-on' (as they say) 8:30-5:30 day with a lunch break in the middle. That is, if you don't have any of the 'farm to table' duties which may include:

  • picking salad greens, herbs and vegetables bright and early (actually when it's dark)
  • washing up dishes after demo
  • feeding the chickens kitchen scraps
  • serving the students lunch that we all cooked together in the day

A typical day starts with kitchen work in pairs. We cook the food assigned to us that was demoed the day before. The night before we have to write out an 'order of work' before we start cooking. An 'order of work' is a schedule of what to cook so that you can serve up 3 fresh courses at the same time. Then, the kitchen teachers come around and grade your work based on cooking technique, presentation and taste. I have to say that I've been having to 'un-learn' many of the bad kitchen habits I got myself into being self-taught at cooking. I'm learning such basic skills that improve the flavour of the food immensely! I can't recommend this course enough to aspiring chefs or people just wanting a greater appreciation for food.

I say 'humble beginnings' because as much as I already know about the food industry and how unsustainable it is.. as much as I already how how good local food can taste.. I am completely blown away by the attention to detail and new skills I'm learning to make myself a better cook.

Below is a sample of photos from the trip so far!

Lesson 1. Organic Farming = tasty food. ps. Check out those Wellies #style!!
Lesson 1. Organic Farming = tasty food. ps. Check out those Wellies #style!!
A dragon.
A dragon.
Planing a lettuce. I called her Penelope.
Planing a lettuce. I called her Penelope.
Welcome meal. FYI to anyone wanting to make me my favourite foods..
Welcome meal. FYI to anyone wanting to make me my favourite foods..
The beautiful mirror above the demo counter for all the students to see. Brilliant!
The beautiful mirror above the demo counter for all the students to see. Brilliant!
After demo, we taste the food, see how it's plated and then try to recreate it for the next day.
After demo, we taste the food, see how it's plated and then try to recreate it for the next day.
Perssimom and Pecan Salad.
Perssimom and Pecan Salad.
Goat Cheese, Dried Local Fig Salad.
Goat Cheese, Dried Local Fig Salad.
Chorizo Arrabiatta Penne
Chorizo Arrabiatta Penne
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart as Demoed by Rachel Allen.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart as Demoed by Rachel Allen.
Our homework sheet.
Our homework sheet.
Studying at Coach House (our cottage)
Studying at Coach House (our cottage)
Friday celebrations at Blackbird Pub in the costal town of Ballycotton.
Friday celebrations at Blackbird Pub in the costal town of Ballycotton.
Ruins behind the pub.
Ruins behind the pub.
Locals getting sassy.
Locals getting sassy.
Local at the Blackbird pub.
Local at the Blackbird pub.
Walking down to say hello to the Atlantic Ocean.
Walking down to say hello to the Atlantic Ocean.
Spooky church in Ballycotton.
Spooky church in Ballycotton.
Live guitar and flute!
Live guitar and flute!
Pub Grub
Pub Grub
Food stand out the back of the pub. They serve sushi and dumplings! Blackbird Pub.
Food stand out the back of the pub. They serve sushi and dumplings! Blackbird Pub.
Hot Toddie at the Pub!
Hot Toddie at the Pub!
Out in Midleton, the town where Jameson Whiskey is brewed.
Out in Midleton, the town where Jameson Whiskey is brewed.
Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Goat Cheese Bruschetta