excited was I to get an invitation to be a speaker at the Kerrygold
Ballymaloe Litfest festival at the Ballymaloe
Cookery School? It popped into my mailbox a few months ago and
although I had been to Ballymaloe a few years back, I remembered the
exceptional food of Cork, Ireland, and the lovely people – which meant
there was no way in heck I was going to refuse.
which was the first full day of the event, I took 350+ pictures; as I
said to someone here, “You can’t take a bad picture in Cork.” The intense
green fields and trees, the low-lying landscape, and the pristine fruits,
vegetables, herbs, and meats, remind me in many ways of Northern
California, with a chill passing through the air every once in a while
alternating with moments of sunlight and brightness before the sun
it’s mainly the food that I come back for – fresh goat cheeses, a
strong commitment to sustainable meats and fish, liberal use of fresh
vegetables, and a pride of ingredients that shines through every plate of
every meal that’s set down before us.
breakfast at Ballymaloe
House, their restaurant, is made with free-range eggs laid by
chickens just around the corner, bacon from rare-breed pigs that tastes
better than anything you can imagine, and sausage that you don’t feel
guilty biting in to, because you know that everything in there isn’t a
mysterious blend of dubious meat scraps from who-knows-where. But
skillfully blended and seasoned, making it the perfect accompaniment, and
a hearty start to the day, along with the eggs and freshly baked whole
grain bread that I’ve become addicted to.
every moment of the weekend is jam-packed with talks, tastings, and
socializing with old friends and new, Friday night we’d decided to
get up early and hit the nearby farmers’ market in Midleton on Saturday
morning, which I’ve visited once
before. With a jam-packed schedule, we didn’t have much time
to spare before the festivities started and we figured arriving at
8am would give us enough time to get a good look at everything.