Sunday, October 4, 2015

Week Three at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Sunrise over Ballymaloe Cookery School
Sunrise over Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Co. Cork, Ireland.
On my way into school Friday morning the sunrise over the Ballymaloe Cookery School fields takes the breath away. As the third week of chef school ends and I head into week four, sitting down to write out some thoughts, I find myself needing to unbutton my jeans so I can breathe. Bread and butter in abundance (the school makes their own and it's divine), so much dairy (Irish cows make the best cream!), dessert after every meal (yes, I'll have seconds! and thirds! and fourths!). Eating comes with the culinary territory, I know, I know, and we're heading into sweater season, so I'm going to continue to eat with abandon. Because I'm probably here only once in my lifetime and if I miss one Orange Creme Scone or Smoked Haddock Fish Cake I may have missed a great opportunity to learn more about Irish culture (ahem). 
Sweet Geranium (the iconic Ballymaloe herb) and Darina Allen's Food Truck
The iconic Ballymaloe herb, Sweet Geranium or Pelargonium graveolens 
Things at school are great, I mean, yeah, it's really fecking hard work and almost everyday I leave the kitchen feeling like I majorly misinterpreted a recipe or technique and to imagine myself as a "good cook" before I came here is highly laughable. But I wonder if the teacher's MO at school (stern, sharp, mean, crabby and, like, are you really going to serve that?! causing you to leave the kitchen feeling one millimeter tall) are training us to enter into a culinary culture of subservience, discipline and attention to detail that must be attained as any chef worth their whites. 
Garden box at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Garden box at Ballymaloe Cookery School.

The conservatory at Ballymaloe Cookery School. This greets me every morning.
Sunflowers greet all who enter the conservatory at Ballymaloe. 
Irish Fish Pie
I'm getting better at filleted fish. Cod in Mornay Sauce, Pangrattato and piped Duchess Potatoes.
And, yeah, I know you're wondering "What are you going to do when you get home, Becki?" And, honestly, yes, I'm wondering the same thing, too! Dreaming about being a Private Chef to a wealthy Minneapolite seems so cushy and peachy and would be absolutely lovely, but I'm not sure I have the existing connections! And then I wonder about working in a Twin City restaurant kitchen (I know, the hours! the weekends! the late nights!, but what about the adrenaline rush of service? the creating something beautiful? doing something important!). If you were to choose three Twin Cities establishments that I should apply at, what would they be? Oh, and they have to love and adore women and families, of course. 

After completing three weeks of school I have an utter and complete respect for other bloggers who detailed their experience here before me. There is no energy for anything extracurricular after school. I'll come home, cook dinner for my family, and maybe get out for a stroll around the neighborhood with the kids, or up to the gas station for milk. Weekends are so heavenly though…kids are happy as long as Mom makes pancakes Saturday morning and we get some family time in. Today after walking along the cliffs of Ballycotton we are heading to Schooner's pub for dinner and a huge rugby match — its the world cup of rugby and we're in the epicenter, Ireland against Italy! Hoorah! 

Miss you all. XO, Becki


  1. If you are not ready to start your own restaurant try your beginning at "PRIMA" a great family style place that may fit just right for you.

  2. I've been back stateside for a week--madly searching for chicken liver pate and tomato chili jam like what I bought at the Ballymaloe cafe store a few weeks ago. No luck, not even close. Will try to make the jam from Darina's posted recipe.

  3. Mom — I googled Prima, looks really cool… farm 2 table, too! Karen — We just made the Chicken Liver Pate in school on Friday, if you knew the amount of butter in that recipe, you may change your mind! But, if you're still game, I could PM you the recipe!

  4. Beautiful pictures and your food descriptions make me hungry! I'm loving reading about your adventure and hope the remainder of your schooling continues to go well. Your 1/4th of the way already!! :) Just wanted to let you know I'm following you and think about you often. Thank you for letting us live vicariously through you!
    Carol Westholter

  5. Hey Becki!! Just got around to read your adventure...Absolutely great stuff! Looks like you are acing the classes too! The culinary landscape in our area sure needs some upgrade, so we'll be waiting. Even a simple cafe with fresh, healthy delicious foods would do so much good to the community.

  6. Hi, Reese! Most days as I sit watching my teachers create a simple cafe meal that could potentially be served at my own establishment in, let's say, Buffalo, MN I think it would absolutely blow people's minds! The approach here is to use local, sustainable, fresh, in season ingredients. Don't fiddle with them. Be pure. Be simple in presentation, but elegant and refined. It's so inspiring! Thanks for taking a moment to check in! Cheers!


I'd love to hear all about your kitchen adventures! Xo, Becki