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Culinary Adventures in Southern Ireland

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Parmjit Parmar, travel writer with the Huffington Post recently spent time in Ireland, more specifically Cork, she wrote the following about Ballymaloe House and the Ballymaloe Cookery School

On the southern coast of Ireland, a 45 minute drive from Ardmore, you'll find Ballymaloe House Hotel and Restaurant. Located in Shanagarry Village, the sleepy rural community is also home to, the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School, established and run by celebrity chef, Darina Allen.

While driving to the Ballymaloe Cookery School, I had no idea what to expect from my afternoon. As I walked into the school's dining hall, packed with students having lunch with Chef Darina Allen, I couldn't help feeling amazed. Allen is the author of several successful books focusing on Irish cuisine, is a leader of the Slow Food movement in Ireland, and was also a key player in establishing a network of farmers' markets in the Cork area.

I spent the afternoon in a cookery class with Allen and her students; I learned the proper technique to de-bone and joint a chicken for cooking. Allen stressed the importance of using organic, locally grown produce and believes that all people should have affordable access to healthy, natural foods.

I found it interesting how she stressed the importance of bees in the ecosystem. "The bees are dying worldwide," she stated, "we, as future food growers and purveyors, must think about what we can do to help restore the balance. Bee keepers are sprouting up all over the place -- and even in major cities, like New York."

The amount of knowledge she imparted to her students was very impressive. In fact, I learned quite a bit about the potato, different tomato varieties, and about "Cassia," a close botanical relative of cinnamon, but is considered faux cinnamon.

The property includes residential cottages for students, a shop that is open to the public, and an organic farm with a greenhouse garden, where a large variety of crops are grown all year round. Tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, green beans, and pumpkins, along with a wide variety of flowers and herbs are just a sample of what is grown at the school. Freshly gathered produce from the farm is fundamental to Allen's curriculum.

Tim Allen, Darina husband, teaches the art of butter- and cheese-making. Rachel Allen, Allen's daughter-in-law, also teaches at the school and is a celebrity in her own right. She makes regular television appearances and contributes to many magazines and newspapers.

Ballymaloe House, located about a few kilometres away from the school, is a picturesque country hotel. The hotel grounds feature a working farm with grain storage, a country shop, self-catering cottages, and, of course, the Ballymaloe House Hotel and Restaurant.

Myrtle Allen, matriarch of the Allen family, opened the doors of Ballymaloe House as one of the first country restaurants in Ireland. It was here that Darina Allen first honed her culinary skills. Today, it is a five-star escape featuring 30 guest rooms and one of the finest dining experiences in the area. The property is managed by Myrtle's daughter-in-law, Hazel Allen. The Allen family resides either in the main house or on the farm.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post website