Wednesday, 7 March 2012


We had a class day out last Thursday which was a fantastic opportunity for us to get out of our little bubble here in Ballymaloe. We got to see some of the great producers and products that we have been lucky to work with during the course. We all piled onto a coach at 7.45am to head for our first stop off at Frank Hederman's Belvelly Smokehouse in Cobh. We received a lovely guided tour by Darina on the way, where she pointed out some historical buildings and landmarks and gave us a run down of the history of the surrounding towns of Ballymaloe.

Belvelly Smoke House
Frank Hederman's Smokehouse is not just an ordinary smokehouse. It is the oldest traditional smokehouse in the country where they make the most delicious smoked fish. Frank's fish is so good that it has even been served to the Queen of England on her birthday.

Frank uses beech wood chips to smoke the fish, which are specifically made for him in the UK. The attention to detail is what makes Franks smoked fish unique. He uses only the freshest organic fish. The fish arrives in on a Monday,  it is gutted and cleaned when it arrives. It is then laid on a long table and salted for 2.5 hours. After this time, the fish is washed down completely and refrigerated until smoking on the Tuesday.

Frank sells about 40% of his fish to the UK where he supplies famous chefs such as Richard Corrigan and Heston Blumenthal. In Ireland, you can pick up some of his wonderful fish at the Midleton Farmers Market, in Avoca and Fallon & Byrne in Dublin and you can also order directly from Frank.
See their website

 Mahon Point Farmers Market
Mahon Point Farmers Market is on every Thursday from 10am - 3 pm. It is definitely worth a visit for anyone who is in the surrounding area. It was set up by Darina Allen's son-in-law Rupert about 10 years ago. At the time, Mahon Point Shopping Centre wasn't doing very well so Darina was approached to set up a farmers market here to encourage more people to come. Now, 10 years on, Thursday is the shopping centre's busiest day for business. The market has been a huge success for the community and it has won farmers market of the year twice.

There is a huge variety of stalls with so many delicious things to choose from. The farmers market aims to support local farmers and artisan producers by ensuring they have a direct outlet to sell their produce. You can pick up anything from a delicious coffee and cake or buy all your fruit, vegetable, fish and meat for your dinner. There are some tables and chairs dotted around the market so you can sit down and enjoy a great coffee while soaking in the atmosphere.

Here are some pictures of the morning where we floated about, listened to some live music and treated ourselves to some delicious hot chocolate.

Cashel Blue
Our next stop off was at Cashel Blue Cheese, in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. I visited Jane and Louis Grubb here this time last year and I was very excited to go back and visit them again and see how they were getting on.

We were given a great tour around their new production premises which they recently invested €6 million in. Below are some pictures of the huge vats and brining baths they use to make their cheese. They have huge cheese harps which they use to hand cut the curds. We were given a taste of their Cashel Blue (A cow's milk blue cheese) and Crozier Blue cheeses (A sheep's milk blue cheese) at
various stages of maturity, to understand the process the cheeses go through before they are fully mature and rich in flavour.

McGrath's Craft Butcher, Lismore, Waterford
We visited an amazing traditional craft butcher called McGrath's in Lismore, County Waterford. McGrath's has been around since the 1800's and they now have their fourth generation of family involved in the business.
While growing up, there were lots of great local butcher shops in Ireland but now it is becoming more and more rare to see them. McGrath's Butchers in Lismore is one of the few gems that are left.

At McGrath's, they rear, kill and butcher their own meat. They have an abattoir at the back of the shop where they butcher their own animals weekly. McGrath's supply the michelin star restaurant at The Cliff House Hotel, they also supply Ballyvolane House and the O' Brien Chop House in Lismore. It is so important for us to support local butchers like these. Is is better for our health, our communities and for our local economies.

 O'Brien Chop House
O'Brien Chop House is a lovely restaurant in Lismore, Co.Waterford run by Justin and Jenny Green of Ballyvolane House. They offer traditional and robust Irish dishes with all ingredients sourced locally. On the menu you could sample a wide variety of chops, cutlets, steaks and pies and a large choice of interesting local beers and drinks. They are open 3 days a week during the winter months with lunch from 12-5pm on Sundays and during the summer months they are open 5 days a week.

It is a really nice setting in a wonderfully atmospheric old Victorian Pub. I wished that we could have stayed in Lismore for dinner. I will definitely be back!

The Summer House, Lismore, Waterford
The Summer House is a quaint little café run by Owen Madden, a past pupil of the Ballymaloe 12 week course. It was really nice of him to show us around and tell us his stories and experiences of starting up his own business. He has a lovely little shop at the back of the café where he sells cute little bits and pieces. This café is another great example of a seasonal Irish kitchen which I aspire to and hope to learn from.

My camera ran out of battery just as I was here so apologies this is the only picture I have!

That's all for now....

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Laura x

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