Ireland: The Epicurean Secret and Ballymaloe

When my annual Motivational Interviewing conference was scheduled to be in Ireland this year I was game to go. Stay in a Castle?  I’m IN. Driving on the wrong side of the road?  No problem. Seeing beautiful lush countryside all around versus the brown flats of the grey concrete of Los Angeles – even better. Eating pub food that might not be healthful? I can handle it for a brief stent.

Ireland is a land full of generous kind people and delicious food that is years ahead of the United States in terms of food labeling, knowing how to prepare tasty gluten-free meals, and home of the most progressive cookery school that exists in the world.

I’d heard about Ballymaloe from my Irish colleague Sandra Fallon, MD but could not fathom the vast 100-acre organic farm, the extensive menu of gourmet farm to table meals and the commitment to sustainability.

Jeffrey and I were privileged to meet both Fern Allen and Tim Allen who spent time visiting with us and arranging our tour at the cookery school. Our guide Daniel weaved us through gardens of herbs, and ancient orchards of fruit trees that at times had weathered the Irish climate to produce the truest taste of apples.  Daniel is an encyclopedia of information on every aspect of the cookery school. He introduced us to Maria, who hand creates the yellow delectable grass-fed rolls of butter. We were privileged to see the amazing array of cheeses at Ballymaloe made from grass-fed cows, which are milked only once a day to produce a higher nutrient content in the milk.

 

We tasted fresh radishes, multiple types of lettuce, tomatoes, and other produce as we picked them.  It is really indescribable when you taste something so fresh and different from the usual fare.

The aromas and deliciousness of the organic produce was both illuminating into how food should taste and at the same time sad that this is not a priority for the rest of the world.

We were invited to stay for lunch and although it was simple the tastes of the vegetables with fresh cheese, tomato soup, and meringues for dessert was beyond imagination. The fish had been caught that morning.

Eating dinner at Ballymaloe was the second highlight of the trip. Soups were our favorites whether they were mushroom, tomato, vegetable, etc. They had fresh tastes of herbs, free of a salt taste and garnished with homemade parsley oil, or mint cream.

Each course was thoughtfully and artistically created from the soup/salad appetizer to the entrees, dessert and cheese courses. The entire staff including our waiter Jarek was exemplary in articulating all components of the meal, in addition to pacing the evening comfortably.

Staying at the hotel, I was able to take morning walks in a green emerald forest and visit with the pastured hens, friendly pigs, cows and horses. It truly was a magnificent experience, being able to pick an apple off a tree and taste food in its purest form. Although I’m missing Ballymaloe, their 50th anniversary cookbook arrived in the mail today and we will be able to make some of the soups and other delicacies we enjoyed.  Hopefully our travels will soon take us again to the most advanced foodie friendly land of people.