Ballymaloe – Weekend Six

This weekend marks the end of the halfway point of the course. I know that I’ve been saying it in most of my posts, but time goes by really quickly here. Tempus fugit and all that…

Anyway, this weekend was another good one. After surviving the Friday night drink-a-thon at The Blackbird, we all amazingly awoke at a semi-respectable hour on Saturday morning in order to make it down to the Midleton Farmer’s Market. Our goal was to pick up all of the other ingredients that we needed for the Mexican lunch we were planning for Sunday. Jenn – Texas native and resident expert on all things Mexican (including mariachi bands) –  had been sent a box of authentic Mexican food by her mom (beans, tortilla flour, spices, hot sauce, etc.), and she was planning on putting it all to good use…with a little help from her friends, of course. So Kait, Oisín, Matthew, Jenn, and I piled into Oisín’s car, and off we went to Midleton. We shopped for all of the other ingredients that we needed at the farmer’s market and Super-Valu, which surprisingly has a pretty decent produce selection. Then it was off to Sage for a very leisurely lunch mainly due to our collective semi-comatose state (read: hungover). After we finally managed to drag ourselves out of the place, we went down to the local butchers in Midleton to see if they had pork butt for the highlight of our Mexican feast: slow-cooked pulled pork. Most of us had a snicker at the name of the cut of meat, but(t) despite its name, pork butt actually comes from the larger end of the front shoulder of a pig. Apparently, the word ‘butt’ is named after the kind of barrels that were used to ship the meat across the U.S. Anyway, neither of the two local butchers in Midleton had this cut (I guess it’s not a very popular cut in these parts…Ireland is missing out…demand pork butt from your local butcher’s!), so we had no choice but to drive to Cork City to see if we could get it at the famed English Market. Our little road trip was made easier by blasting Aretha Franklin tunes, and we arrived in Cork in no time. I was happy to get to see a little bit of Cork again, since I had only been there once for a very short time 11 years ago on the way to Kinsale. The English Market is massive with every kind of shop and stall you can imagine, and we had no problems finding our elusive pork butt. Road trip was a success!

Later on in the evening, we met up with Jamie and his two friends who were visiting from England and went to Pat Shortt’s Pub in Castelmartyr for dinner. Pat Shortt is an Irish actor/comedian, but I only know of him from his Jumbo Breakfast Roll song when I used to listen to Irish radio online while sitting at my desk back in my law firm days. Anyway, our dining experience started off on the wrong foot, as when we arrived for our 7:30 pm reservation (a booking that Jamie and I had made in person one day earlier), the most unwelcome host/bar girl/waitress I have ever encountered in my life told us that they didn’t have any bookings for 10 people that night, and we must have made up a story about it. To accuse a potential customer with 9 other potential customers ready and willing to spend a lot of money in your place of business that they are lying was beyond my tolerance level for someone who would have been better suited as a member of the Gestapo than in a customer service position in a restaurant. I was ready to walk out on the spot, but Jamie, with his charmingly British personality, managed to convince her to make room for us…which she eventually did…in the back of the restaurant…near the bathrooms. Oh well. I won’t be back there anytime soon. Sorry, Mr. Shortt – you need to get friendlier staff. Despite the night starting off so poorly, we did make the best of it and had a very lovely evening indeed.

Sunday ended up being such a blast. We all pitched in to help Jenn with her multiple-course Mexican feast. Because I am addicted to avocados, I did a trio of guacamole: Guacamole Tradicional, Guacamole de Frutas (made with pomegranate seeds, mango, and apple), and Guacamole Rojo (made with red onion and chipotle pureed in adobe sauce). Jenn made a delicious Mexican spicy chicken soup and the pulled pork that came out beautifully; Oisín was on tortilla-making duty; and Kait made us all tasty margaritas. ¡Qué fantástico and muy delicioso!

All in all, it was a very good weekend indeed. Now to begin the second half of the course…

Check out some pics, will ya?!

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2 thoughts on “Ballymaloe – Weekend Six

  1. I am really enjoying your blog, Lisa. Four years ago, I took the one week intensive introductory course at Ballymaloe. A year and a half ago, I put a deposit down on the 12 week course….I am hoping I can finally take the plunge and do the course this year. Life (and a fair amount of fear) keeps getting in the way of me leaving my “steady” job in these uncertain times. LOL
    I read this story today and I’d love for you to share it with the folks at Ballymaloe.
    Best of luck to you in your endeavors!
    — Karen

    Young adults who can cook are a minority
    by Natalie Brunell
    Feb 23, 2012

    • Thank you fr the lovely comment and for reading my blog, Karen! I hope that you will someday do the course here – for fear of sounding trite, it truly is a life-changing experience. That being said, I totally understand your hesitation in leaving your job to come to Ballymaloe, as I had to quit my job and move to Ireland in order to do the course. Feel free to e-mail me at if you have any questions, as I’d be happy to give you more information on doing the course. Thank you also for the article. It is quite interesting and very apropos, and I will definitely share it with the others here as well.

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