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Our Ballymaloe Teachers


It’s high time I mentioned that we have a third teacher in the mix these days. Yes, in addition to Darina and Rory, we’re also being taught by Rachel Allen (kind of a celebrity here in Ireland, has her own TV show…). She’s thorough and clear, which I like, but also so gracious. She makes a point of learning each student’s name (she was once a student here as well), and on her first demo with us, she even got one of our classmates, Bill, to join her in cooking. (It was the bacon chop with the whiskey sauce and he had a question about crackling, so she got him to come up and make it.) Great fun and loads of laughs!

Rachel’s also taught us some solid recipes. For instance, this lovely brioche (I have not tried making it yet, though I seem to have tested/sampled quite a large number of my fellow classmates’ work):

This wow-your-friends-with-presentation bread sticks (those are poppy seeds in the middle of the flower):

This lemon mousse (again didn’t make this, but tasted it), early in its preparation:

And finished, ready to eat:

On the difference between Rachel and Rory: Rachel was demonstrating a pastry and mentioned how we can pipe whatever message we want onto our dough. She suggested piping messages like, “Will you marry me?” or “Do you fancy me?”.

Literally a day or two before, Rory was also demo-ing a pastry and he piped some chocolate and he too said it was an opportunity to write whatever message you wanted. When he turned his pastry towards us, he had written… “I Hate You!”

Needless to say, totally hilarious.

If you are thinking of our three teachers, it might help to think of it this way (or at least this is somewhat of a general consensus among students): Darina (besides being a force on a number of political issues involving food and agriculture) loves her forgotten skills, has nostalgia for some of the more traditional recipes, and tells charming tales like the one about the fairies escaping from the soda bread whereas Rachel focuses on home cooking and in some ways is the most accessible, and Rory is the one with the restaurant expertise, and the most chef-y presentation (also a genius wordsmith!).


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