Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Ireland on 7TWO at 12 noon on Sunday 3 February.
I had to pinch myself when Darina Allen from Ballymaloe, the only cookery school in the world located in the middle of its own 100 acre organic farm, showed me how the fairies helped when making spotted dog (Irish soda bread with sultanas). She is even more charismatic in person than I expected. The big smile, red glasses and warm welcome had me entranced. Cooking with her at Ballymaloe was one of the highlights of filming Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Ireland.
Ballymaloe is a renowned Irish country house hotel and restaurant owned and run by the Allen family for over 40 years. Interestingly the first matriarch was Myrtle, who married Ivan Allen, a farmer (and gourmet!), and it was she who started the restaurant which developed into a hotel. Darina married their son Tim and it was she, responding to the many challenges on the land, who started the cookery school. Along came 18 year-old Rachel from Dublin, to study at the by now world famous Ballymaloe school. Here she met Tim and Darina’s son Isaac whom she later married. She herself is now a busy TV chef, author and teacher and happened to be filming a new TV series Easy Meals the day I was there. Naturally we captured this on film and have since become friends. They are the most enchanting family.
This is only a part of episode 2 of Taste of Ireland. First up I started my tour of County Cork at The English Market, so named because it started as a market specifically to feed British troops. Here I sampled cheese and crubeen (pig’s trotter) as I met some of the shopkeepers in an Aladdin’s Cave of food. The matriarchal theme continued as I learned that often it is the women who own the stalls and pass them down through the family. One highlight was meeting the fishmonger, whose Mum had started with a little stand in 1962. He had a life-size cut out of himself with Queen Elizabeth II from when she visited the market for the first time three months earlier. He maintains she flirted with him! However it was beef I chose to cook in the glorious grounds of Hayfield Manor, a grand house and hotel. A rib eye finished with Irish Whiskey sauce and a pea medley.
Finally it was off to the charming seaside village of Kinsale, home to fish restaurateur and TV chef Martin Shanahan, who took me out on a boat to fish for mackerel. For once on TV I was successful and caught three myself so then it was off to the beach in sight of the historic Charles Fort to cook it with chorizo and a warm potato salad.
Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Ireland screens weekly on 7TWO on Sundays at 12noon.
Lyndey Milan, Australian home cook hero, combines a thirst for life and a sense of fun with a love of good food and sparkling shiraz. A familiar face on television and in print, she been instrumental in changing the way Australians think and feel about food and wine for over 25 years.
Read more about the Magic of Ireland by Lyndey Milan >> here <<