Living the Life at Ballymaloe

One of the things we wanted to check out in Cork was a Ballymaloe Cookery School, run by Darina Allen. Darina is to Slow Food in Ireland what Alice Waters is to Slow Food in the states. After taking a job at the Ballymaloe House restaurant, she fell in love with the proprietor’s son and they created the cookery school on the Ballymaloe Farm. Magically, her own son had the same luck with the beautiful Rachel, who is also a magnificent chef in her own right. And so the legacy continues. We hope for generations!

We headed off with Maurice to explore the area and sample the goods. First off, we visited the beautiful yet understated estate, about 2 miles away from the cookery school. With down-filled sofas and lovely wingback chairs tucked into sunny reading corners, there was space for everyone. The property included a very tempting swimming pool, putting greens, a tennis court and miles of walking trails.

While tromping around in the woods behind the estate we discovered fields of identical looking free range chickens that purred in unison while snapping up bugs and other goodies. On the other side of the road stood the pig sty, with three 6 month old piglets and a wary mama. All Sarah could do was give silent thanks for the delicious bacon and sausages she had been eating daily. These were the sacred pigs of goodness. After wandering back toward the beautiful old building we discovered another wooded area filled with yet more chickens, a large pond filled with ducks, and a very tame peacock.


Sarah ran into the cafe and grabbed a couple of pastries for the road, and we headed off to the Cookery School. The pastries were decadent, tasting of butter and almonds, reminding us that we were HUNGRY!

First stop in the cookery school was the shop full of local treats. We each grabbed a jar of fresh yogurt and headed out to the gardens, with a map. A MAP?! This place was huge (a 100 acre organic farm, to be exact). For 6 euros, we were handed a map and set loose. To our left was a well cared for old building lined with 10 foot windows and filled with kitchen staff bustling around for the lucky students taking classes. We hoped we would look pathetic enough to be fed, but no such luck.

The sun was shining while we wandered through the vegetable gardens, herb gardens, said hi to the cows and a very large pig. We gathered some dill for Cormac’s hake and admired some gorgeous Scarlett Runner Beans. We climbed a tree house overlooking the formal English Gardens and ran around the maze like children, breaking free though a hedge when we spotted the field of raspberry bushes.

Near the back of the property was a fantastic series of old buildings set up for students who opted to stay while in class. Maurice laid claim to the lovely pink cottage near the edge. We couldn’t blame him.

Sadly, it was time to head back to town, but we looked forward to Cormac’s mastery of the hake with a pinch of Ballymaloe dill.

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3 Responses to Living the Life at Ballymaloe

  1. Mina says:

    Gorgeous photo of you! That place looks like heaven.

  2. Lynette says:

    Such wonderful photos of your good times. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: I’m Back!! « Truffles, Figs and Chicks

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