When it comes to cooking I’m a bit like Jedward. I’ll throw myself into it enthusiastically and ignore anyone who turns up their noses or says I’ll never make it in America. So when a friend won a weekend in Wicklow”s Ballyknocken House (including morning cookery class) I accepted the invite, thinking I’d enjoy the accommodation and eating part but would give the Stork demo a miss. Because I don’t need it and I love lie-ins.
However, the owner, tv chef Catherine Fulvio won me over. We stayed in the lovely old family farmhouse and she talked us through the dinner menu over drinks in the parlour before we enjoyed some of the tastiest food I’ve ever had. All I’ll say is “glazed apples with prosecco gravy” and “turnip and parmesan gratin” and leave it at that. Oh, and the most amazing antipasti and orangello. Suffice to say that later, rubbing my belly by the fire, I decided that I’d get up and stroll over to the converted barn the next morning for the class.
So after an award-winning breakfast, literally, we donned hats and aprons for what turned out to be a really good morning. Catherine gave us some top tips whilst making scones (not with Stork) and then we split up into groups and between us made eight dishes – soups, salads, mains and desserts. They included Irish, Italian, Moroccan and Asian inspired food. Top tips included handy kitchen gadgets like mandolins and mini graters (TK Maxx is the best place to pick up cheap but quality kitchen stuff), how to line a cake tin in less than 10 seconds and knife skills and how to sharpen them because the most dangerous thing in your kitchen is a blunt knife. We then went back to the restaurant to taste everything with new friends and avoid the mentallers.
I enjoyed it so much that I availed of a 2 for 1 offer they had last month (€57.50 each) and I went with a friend for just a morning class called “7 Nights, 7 Meals – 1 Plan”. For some reason three of the meals were chicken and a couple more vegetarian. It would have been nice to have some fish, pork or lamb, but nevertheless I got some good ideas. One in particular was a Chilli Asian Roasted Chicken where you mix butter, sunflower oil, cumin, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chillies and salt and shove it all under the skin of a chicken before roasting. It will make your heart sing as it hardens.
Anyway, for a weekend, an evening meal or just a morning with a friend, I would heartily recommend Ballyknocken Cookery School. Check out their website www.Ballyknocken.com for current prices. It’s just half an hour south of Dublin and, you never know, you might learn something new. If it’s the prosecco gravy please tell me.
Have you tried the cookery classes at Ballyknocken? Is there another cookery school that you would recommend?