Ballymaloe Uncategorized

Day 22 – Bacon and Cabbage

(Every time I walk past these little piggies on the farm I swear I’ll never eat pork again. But then it’s on my plate and smells so good…will I ever learn to live with the guilt?)

Today I had a relatively short order of work in the kitchen. There were lots of guests coming so late lunch was not an option. It was for the best, everyone was exhausted from the big weekend and most of us were in new kitchens so needed some time to learn our way around.  I made an apple tart and watercress soup.

The soup was actually rather symbolic for me. I visited Ballymaloe last year while I was considering the course. I came for lunch and was served the most amazing, silky smooth soup. In the first mouthful I decided I had to do it because I wanted to be able to make something that delicious. Today I used the same recipe and found out the only equipment was a saucepan and blender, and there’s no cream at all, just milk. It goes to show the power of quality ingredients!


 I was on serving duty at lunch and carved bacon for the guests. It was fun, and I got to practise my carving skills.


We ate glazed bacon and two kinds of cabbage – one buttered, and one in a salad with pineapple (retro!) I know many Irish people think that bacon and cabbage is just about the most revolting thing you could eat but when made properly, with real ingredients it is truly spectacular.  People could not get enough of it.


In the afternoon we were visited by one of Darina’s food heroes, Noreen Conroy of Woodside Farm in Cork.  She and her husband Martin raise free range saddleback pigs and she had a lot to say about conventional farming. On most farms pigs have their tails and teeth removed, are separated from their mothers and litter mates and are slaughtered at 4 months. None of this happens on Woodside Farm. Their animals live much happier lives until the age of 9-11 months. Plus the exercise they get develops stronger muscles, giving more flavour.

I learned : Cinnamon is a natural cholesterol buster.

Fat is your friend! Most vitamins are fat soluble only, so you need enough of it in your diet for everything else to function. Sausages should have at least 20% fat to be succulent and juicy.

Food of the day : Brown sugar glazed bacon.

Line of the day : From Darina. ‘People say I’m extreme. I’m NOT extreme, okay?’