Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Week Six: Edible Flowers and Cheesy Scones with Father Linnane

This week, Father Linnane came to visit us in Cork, along with our Loyola program director Mrs. Harris, and Dr. Tim Snyder. We got to spend a lot of time with Father Linanne, as he said a private mass for our group and then took us out to dinner at the Hayfield Manor Hotel, which used to be the homestead of the Beamish family, who originally brewed the famous stout. The other day of Father Linnane’s visit, however, was spent at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, famous throughout Ireland as the best Cookery School in the country. We had no idea what to expect going in, but we were excited to at least get some good food out of the trip. First we took a tour of the grounds, including some beautiful gardens. As part of our garden tour, we learned about a bunch of edible flowers, and actually got to eat some. Father Linnane and I casually split a flower in the garden of a cooking school in the middle of a farm in the Irish countryside - not something that happens every day. Next we made our way inside for our demonstration slash lesson. Darina, the head chef there, was our instructor here, and I swear she moved so quickly through all of the recipes that I wasn’t even sure what we would be making. Not to mention the fact that Father Linnane had casually sat down next to me for the demonstration, which was particularly intimidating when Darina started making comments about there being nothing sexier than the scent of fresh baked bread, or someone who could make that fresh baked bread. When we moved into our individual kitchens we were told which recipes we would be preparing. Mine were the tomato fondue, the raspberry tart from scratch, and a salad. This was the moment that it actually dawned on me that we would be eating the food that we made in these kitchens. The pressure was on, but our group was up for the challenge. Molly and I were making the same dishes, so we kept checking with each other throughout the process on how to complete each step. If we were going to do something wrong, we would do it wrong together. Nothing went wrong though. In fact, everything turned out perfectly. I was especially proud of my raspberry tart. (Thanks, mom, for teaching me how to use a piping bag as soon as I was old enough to bug you about helping you bake things! Our kitchen’s instructor came over to show me how to decorate the tart, and I was already halfway done.) Everything looked great laid out on the giant tables in the dining room, and it tasted equally delicious. I’m pretty sure that we all left Ballymaloe at least ten pounds heavier than we arrived, and we may have set the world record for most cheesy scones eaten in one sitting. And the most dangerous part is that we know the recipe, and how to make them. I see many days of having cheesy scones for dinner in our future. Also, to anyone who says that there is not good food in Ireland, spend one day at Ballymaloe and not only will that belief change, but you will never look at food, or the preparation of food, the same way again. And lastly, to all of my family and friends back home, I will definitely be wanting to try out my new cooking skills when I get back to the States, so next time we get together, I’d be happy to try out my new recipes on you!

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