Ballymaloe larder

2010 was the year I got fat.

I began the year soft yet sprightly and ended it beached on a sofa, greasy with chocolate, huffing and puffing with effort every time I heaved a limb across my rippling barrel body.

Much of the blame for this can be laid at the door [...]

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Students in kitchen 1

1 Take a car
You can manage without a car at Ballymaloe (I did), but without it your shopping choices are restricted to the school shop, which is full of ferociously expensive and highly covetable food stuffs, and the local petrol station, which isn’t.

2 Bring stationery
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The staff at Ballymaloe are annoyingly opaque about the exams, which means the students are whipped into a froth of rumour and panic by the time exam day dawns. Foamy brain melts aren’t eased when Darina answers questions like ‘exactly how much we are meant to know about the cheeses?’ with: “The gist of everything [...]

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Pork en croûte

The last day of cooking had finally rolled round and, in spite of my disastrous kitchen meltdown the week before, I skipped into the school and fussed around my work section, humming a happy tune. I’d arrived at the end of the tunnel and was bathed in warm oven lights [...]

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Week 11. The penultimate week; our last full week in the kitchens and what, after 54 days of intensive cookery tuition, am I doing? I’m splitting the soup again.

Day 71 (Monday) began so well. At 8am I was mixing a brown soda bread. At 8.30am I was feeding lumps of butter into a saturated fat-hungry [...]

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I’ve had niggling doubts about my 1st review of Nautilus ever since I pressed publish. I’d said how the food was delicious, the service was swift and the prices completely shocking for a Londoner (no, really, Ireland, you’re very expensive), but was my conclusion fair or was it born of my Hulk-like rage [...]

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Driving into Cobh with visiting friends Trevor and Badger (they chose their own nicknames), I immediately felt at home. The stubborn row of palm trees, the waterfront promenade with railings you can hang on to when the sea breezes come howling in, the string of picturesque houses overlooking an industrial vista – for a Portsmouth girl, [...]

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O’Brien’s Chop House

There’s a school of thought that you should visit a restaurant at least 3 times before you review it. Some bloggers take this very seriously and pledge to uphold it, their right hand held over their heart and their left hand saluting the triumvirate of [...]

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Punishment rained down on me in week 7. Hubris, complacency, not thoroughly drying plates before I put them back – all these sins and more were corrected with lashings of pain, humiliation and fear. In the end I was forced to retreat from the kitchen and spend Friday in bed, cradling my rock hard (but [...]

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Silk Purse cheese board

Last Friday (day 40) was Exam Day. This caused a lot of fear and perspiration among the students in the 4 weeks before, when the rumours of mid-term exams began to circulate. At first, there was only the suspicion of exams. Then, after a few bold students approached the office, [...]

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