Can somebody tell me where the time is going to? I cannot believe we are embarking on Week 9 at Ballymaloe. Last week seems like a life time ago. So much happens on a daily basis here that you really have to stop yourself several times throughout the day and pause for a moment. But is there time? When your teacher is shouting out ’5 minutes to tasting’ and you are viciously but very delicately rolling out what feels like a bajillion Cappelletti pasta and then your parents arrive and there’s a flurry of excitement and emotions. And then it is Sunday night and you feel like you just blinked and poof there goes another week. I spent over 18 months anticipating my time at Ballymaloe and now I have just 4 weeks left in this haven of foodie heaven.
Well last week started off on such a positive, uplifting note. We had one of the most glorious days of sunshine and of course, most of it was spent down by the beach.
On Wednesday afternoon, our class had the extreme pleasure of having a demonstration from Ger Buckley Master Cooper on barrel making, distilling whiskey and a brief run down of the trade and history behind it.
Ger opened up what must have been nearly a 5ft barrel containing about a foot of whiskey in it. It smelled divine I must say. When he finished everyone was totally amazed by the show and very intrigued.
On Thursday we headed off on our School Tour. I felt like a kid in school again, getting a day off school and going on a little adventure. Very exciting!! We had a list of places to visit and we were absolutely blessed with beautiful weather (again!!). First, we went for a sun kissed stroll around the grounds of Ballymaloe, doing a little foraging along the way.
We ended our walk with a talk from Bill Casey on smoking fish. Unfortunately, it is not the season just yet for Organic Salmon but Bill assured us that next week he would be getting in tons to have ready for Easter. Bill works solo and has made a great business out of his trade.
On to Mahon Point Farmer’s Market for a feast of fresh produce, comforting hot chocolates and warm smiles…..
One of my favourite stalls was definitely The Rocket Man. Jack is a past student of Ballymaloe. He attended the course this time last year and began his business during the course. I really loved his style and his choice of food. His salads are scrumptious and a good drizzle of garlicky yoghurt on top just sends your taste buds into a little song and dance of pure happiness.
Our next stop of the tour was definitely the one I was most excited about. I’m a big fan of Toby Simmonds. He has worked so hard over the last 20 years and now is doing such a brilliant job of making a name for Irish cheese with his gorgeous and creamy Buffalo Mozzarella. Seriously, it is unreal!! When I heard we were visiting him and his Buffaloes at Toonsbridge I was delighted…
We packed ourselves back on the bus and ventured toward Macroom and met Donal Creedon of Waltons’ Mills. Donal is such a gentle charachter. I instantly warmed to him as he spoke about the work that his family have put into keeping the business alive. Macroom Oatmeal is popular all over the country and is now stocked in the US. Donal also works solo apart from a packer who helps him get the Oatmeal and flours packed up for distribution.
We headed toward Urru (Urban Rural) in Bandon to meet Ruth Healy, who is also a past student. Ruth runs a Culinary Store which is a mish mash of deli, grocers and bakeware. It was a treasure chest of foodie finds and I picked up a gorgeous Mason Bowl which reminded me of what my mum used to make all of her lovely cakes in.
Our last port of call was to Poachers Inn, Bandon. Barry (Ballymaloe past student) and his wife, Catherine McLaughlin, have made a stand in the quaint town of Bandon dishing up a stunning menu. We were treated to Barry’s Crab and Prawn Cocktails. I could have eaten a dozen!!
A serious amount of inspiration from this trip. Seeing what current artisan producers are up to and also what past students have moved on to doing. My mind is like a wildfire with ideas at the minute.