Once upon a time in the 80s, a door-to-door life insurance salesman rang the Murphy family’s doorbell, and unsuccessful in his purpose, he left a surprising parting gift of on their front lawn – a heavily pregnant goat. It transpires that goat’s milk works miracles for eczema, which Jane Murphy’s children suffered from. One goat led to many goats, and these are the auspicious beginnings of the award-winning Ardsallagh goat’s cheese company, run by Jane Murphy, who kindly invited me to her goat farm and dairy. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Jane and her daughter, Louise, had just finished preparing 1,700 litres of milk for the day. Continue reading
In the 1950s, my very English great aunt Sheila made the bold move of marrying an American. He was called Charlie, and they lived in a beautiful 60 acre Irish estate, near a town called Mallow, in Cork county. Up until now, I had a fairly idyllic vision of Ireland, based on seaside villages and postcard farms, but driving one hour inland shows a rougher reality of copy-and-paste housing, unemployment, Irish travellers and boredom. Continue reading
Prologue: an abridged version events
Student 1: “How about we turn the cookery school dining room into a magical forest, and invite 70 members of the public along to a Midsummer Night’s Dream Feast themed three course pop-up dinner, sourcing the food almost entirely from the school farm, in two weeks time?”
Everyone else: “Yeah, why not? YOBO.” (You Only Ballymaloe Once. Yes, that’s a thing we need to abbreviate).
Exit, pursued by a bear. Continue reading
There are a number of accomplishments which a fully formed Ballymaloe alumnus is meant to have when coming out into culinary society, such as milking a cow, building a compost heap, and knowing at least something about wine. Continue reading
Put on your shoulder pads and whip out your lip liner – it’s meringue roulade, again. Continue reading
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell down in torrents, and my friend Lisa and I were cocooned in the kitchen of the award-winning fish smoker, Sally Barnes, making our way through kilos of smoked haddock with a squeeze of lime and a scratch of black pepper.
Lost down an alley behind Ballymaloe House is a quaint, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it (I did) cottage, more likely to turn up in Hogsmeade than an up-market country hotel. Continue reading
When something goes majorly wrong in the kitchen, such as gluing my fingers together with molten sugar (OUCH), and I’m on the brink of very public meltdown, I’ve taken to sitting on the lawn outside the kitchen and having a good, long stare at the cows and their calves in the field opposite. Continue reading
If you stand on your tiptoes on the steps at the back of Kitchen 3, on top of the cows, fields, hedges, and trees, you can just see a thin blue stripe of sea, and if you’re lucky, you can catch a taste of the crisp, salty tang in the air that blows in from the coast. Continue reading