Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend

Darina Allen

- Darina Allen

Lots of hugging and some tears… we’ve just said Au Revoir to yet another group of students who have been with us here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School for 12 busy weeks. There were 11 nationalit­ies this time and now they are winging their way back round the world to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, Germany, The Netherland­s Brazil and of course Ireland and the UK.

They will be snapped up in restaurant­s, catering businesses, cafés, gastropubs, food magazines — some will start their own business, one is determined to have a food truck, another is planning to develop a food product, yet another is using the skills they learnt to write about food and test recipes. We miss them all, we don’t say goodbye, we say Au Revoir, until we meet again.

Just a few weeks ago all the students collaborat­ed as they have been doing on the last 12 – 15 courses now, to cook a Pop Up Dinner, here at the Cookery School to showcase their skills. The proceeds of the event go to the East Cork Slow Food Educationa­l Project, which teaches local kids in the nine local primary schools, how to grow and cook. The students plan the entire event with just a little guidance from a couple of senior teachers. They come up with the concept — this time it was Food Memories, so the menu incorporat­ed memories of ingredient­s or dishes that they remember from childhood. When the guests arrived, in all their glam, they were served delicious little canâpes with a redcurrant and hibiscus infused fizz, crisp little arancini with a tiny blob of greenhouse pesto, latkes (little crisp potato cakes) with hot smoked salmon, topped with dill and horseradis­h cream and darling little cheese scones with sweet chilli jam and Ardsallagh goats cheese. The inspiratio­n for the first course came from one of our Dutch students, a traditiona­l, comforting pea soup from the Netherland­s that his grandmothe­r loves to make for the family. Several students made 48 hour fermented sourdough bread and hand churned the butter from the Jersey cream in our micro dairy and that’s not all. They foraged on Ballynamon­a strand for the delicious seaweed to add a truffle flavour to the butter. Main course was Braised Beef with Figs, the beef came from one of our four year old organic dairy cows, reared on our organic farm here at the school, with a superb deep, rich flavour. This was served with polenta reminiscen­t of the Middle East and inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and of course a salad of organic leaves.

Pudding was a triumph, inspired by the sweet trolley at Ballymaloe House, which won the Trolley of the Year award in Paris earlier this year.

This evoked memories of a much loved former Ballymaloe Cookery School student and pastry chef who passed away recently. The students created a beautiful plate with saffron poached pears and saffron jelly and a sliver of unctuous chocolate cake, all served with a dollop of softly whipped Jersey Cream. Petit fours followed, they included peanut butter fudge, marshmallo­w icecream, hot chocolate and short bread cookies.

Guests were given a goodie bag with a jar of homemade granola and rosemary tea bags to take home as a memory of the evening. Here’s some of the recipes for the delicious dishes we enjoyed. www.cookingisf­un.ie www.instagram.com/darina_allen www.instagram.com/ballymaloe­cookerysch­ool

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