In November all the Ballymaloe Cookery School 12 week certificate students collaborated as they have been doing on the last 12–15 courses now, to cook a Pop Up Dinner, at the Ballymaloe Cookery School to showcase their skills. The proceeds of the event go to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project, which teaches local kids in the nine local primary schools, how to grow and cook. The tickets sell out almost as fast as a U2 concert….

The students plan the entire event with just a little guidance from a couple of senior teachers. They come up with the concept – this time it was Food Memories, so the menu incorporated memories of ingredients or dishes that they remember from childhood, maybe tasted on holidays or associated with a special friend or had particularly enjoyed learning to master during the Certificate course.

They decorated the dining room, designed the table tops and place settings. The seasonal menus were hand written and individually marbled by a particularly artistic student.

Late Autumn foliage was brought in from the garden and hedgerows to embellish the room, each was symbolic, including a memory tree so guests could write their food memories on a label to hang from the branches.

When the guests arrived, in all their glam, they were served delicious little canâpes with a redcurrant and hibiscus infused fizz, crisp little Arancini with a tiny blob of Greenhouse Pesto, Latkes (little crisp potato cakes) with hot smoked salmon, topped with dill and horseradish cream and darling little cheese scones with sweet chilli jam and Ardsallagh goats cheese. View recipes here. Each little morsel was delicious and evoked a memory of the Cookery Course. The inspiration for the first course came from one of our Dutch students, a traditional, comforting pea soup from the Netherlands that his grandmother loves to make for the family. Several students made 48 hour fermented sourdough bread and hand churned the butter from the Jersey cream in Ballymaloe’s micro dairy and that’s not all. They foraged on Ballynamona strand for the delicious pepper dillisk seaweed to add a truffle flavour to the butter. Main course was Braised Beef with Figs, the beef came from one of Ballymaloe’s 4 year old organic dairy cows, reared on the organic farm at the School, with a superb, deep, rich flavour. This was served with polenta, reminiscent of the Middle East and inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and of course a salad of organic leaves.

Pudding was a triumph, inspired by the sweet trolley at Ballymaloe House, which won the Trolley of the Year award at the World Restaurant Awards in Paris in 2019. This evoked memories of a much loved former Ballymaloe Cookery School student and pastry chef who passed away recently. The students created a beautiful plate with Saffron Poached Pears and Saffron Jelly and a sliver of unctuous Chocolate Cake, all served with a dollop of softly whipped Jersey Cream – Petit fours followed, they included Peanut Butter Fudge, Marshmallow Ice-cream, Hot Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies. View recipes here.

Guests were given a little goodie bag with a jar of homemade granola and rosemary tea bags to take home as a memory of the evening. Now you know why the tickets for the Ballymaloe Cookery School Pop-Up sell out so fast.