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Thank you Ballymaloe!

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We have just had the heavenly pleasure of spending two nights in Ballymaloe House. I belive we may have found heaven on earth in this wonderful retreat. It has everything. Our large, elegant bedroom overlooking the garden and duck pond, with it's own terrace, was our haven. The estate provides all the country walks you could desire and two days here makes you feel as if you have a had a week away.

We decided last minute to bring our, two and half year old, son with us and to say that he was welcomed with open arms is an understatement. In this magnificent, serene country home, childrens tea is served each day at 5.30 for their smaller guests or delivered on a tray to your childs room with homemade lemonade and miniature dessert. I managed (with difficulty) to grab on to one of his fresh fish goujons deep fried in a feather light batter and contemplated asking if I could have the same that evening for dinner.

With delight our son welcomed his Ballymaloe babysitter, so that we could visit the drawing room upstairs to order pre dinner drinks and try to choose from a tantalising menu of fresh local produce. Dinner in the maze of buzzing dining rooms, was a masterpiece both nights. I have never tasted food like it. Ballymaloe celebrates ingredients, leaving them untouched by fuss, allowing vegetables and meat to shine in their own right. I am still dreaming of the tomato and mint soup, the goats cheese and aubergine tart, the stuffed duck and their dessert trolley, a welcome reprieve from the tiny architecturally intricate desserts offered in so many other places. I pray that I may I not die without again trying their French Chocolate cake and Praline ice cream!

Following a perfectly restful nights sleep the three of us (son in happily provided highchair) enjoyed a Ballymaloe breakfast. What an honour to have Myrtle Allen slice four different freshly baked breads into a basket for our table offering home made butter and jams to accompany them. My son and husband tucked into free range eggs and dry cured bacon, while I enjoyed the porridge with cream and chose among the bowls of fresh and dried fruits and fresh fruit juices. The staff could not have been more friendly, patient and professional and from reception desk to household, from waiter to sommelier were a pleasure to meet.

Ballymaloe is a treat that anyone who truly appreciates food and service should experience at least once in a lifetime. Thank you Ballymaloe