Niamh Doherty

Niamhy Luvs Darina 4-Evur

In Life on April 15, 2010 at 10:03

Yup, that’s me with Darina Allen. Be still my beating heart!

Regular readers (Hi Jen!) will have noticed a drop-off in posts over the last couple of days. This is because I was doing a cookery course in the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shangarry, Co. Cork. It wasn’t cheap, but it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made – I think I learned more in my two and a half days there than in all my previous years of baking put together. The level of teaching is incredible – the tutors were all very hands-on and more than happy to help all of us newbies who were floundering around their professional kitchen.

Darina herself is a force to be reckoned with – she is one of the world’s most recognised, respected, talented and passionate chefs, but still remarkably down-to-earth. She joined the other chefs in pouring teas and coffees, serving lunch to us students, and even popped up at my elbow in the kitchen yesterday morning to offer advice, before disappearing into the ether on one of her missions. Warm, and with an easy laugh, more than happy to pose for photos and delighted to sign any number of cookbooks thrust at her, she was the complete antithesis to celebrity. Getting to meet someone I so admire, whose recipes I have relied upon and whose shows I have watched since childhood with my mother furiously scribbling notes beside me was definitely one of the high points of my life!

Ballymaloe Cookery School is set in the middle of a 100-acre organic farm, and is one of the most peaceful and charming places on earth. The students stay in a variety of renovated outhouses a stone’s throw from the school, and are woken by the rooster every morning. Each day, they eat salad from the greenhouse, cook with free-range eggs from the flock of hens who wander around the school grounds, and pour cream from Darina’s Jersey cow on their porridge. Stepping through the farm gate really is like stepping into another world, a world where the focus is on great food that is locally sourced, simply cooked and, crucially, enjoyed.  The most wonderful thing about Ballymaloe, though, is the people. Their ethos – buy local, support farmers, and cook nutritious but delicious food – is utterly inspiring. They are so proud of their local produce, and go to great lengths both to source it and to make sure that the producers are paid a fair price for it; something that, sadly, is the exception as opposed to the norm for the majority of farmers and food producers in this country. Their passion and enthusiasm for what they do is just incredible, and has spurred me make some career changes in the next couple of years.

In the meantime though, stay tuned for some delicious baked goodies over the next couple of days, as I plan to be up to my elbows in flour, dough and icing nozzles before going back to work on Monday!

  1. Bring it ON.

    Ps you and D-Money have basically the same spectacles. Coincidence? I think not!

  2. I know! We are SO meant to be best friends!

  3. Sounds like you had a great time. Next stop, the three month course?!

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