You know we love eating around here. Blogging about recipes, food, and eating out in Ireland we have actually used the term ‘nomnomnomnom’. And it was spot on.
But if all those TV chefs are to be believed, there is a whole other satisfaction before the finger-licking, belly-rubbing, tipping the waitress part. They call it… cooking. And we’re going to convince you that this ‘cooking’ can actually be one of the best parts of your holiday.
See, you’ve discovered your favourite dish here, whether it be the perfectly creamy seafood chowder in a windy harbour town, or the delicately simple scone served by your smiling B&B lady, and you’ve savoured every morsel. Problem is, it won’t be long before you’re back on the plane, blubbering like a baby as you realise that you don’t know when you’ll taste flavour like that again (with the added blow of having to eat plane food at the same time). That’s where our cooking schools, in flying superchef capes, step in. You can learn how to make your favourite dish, ensuring gastromonical glory when you return home with recipe in hand, and you can have a great time (even the odd food fight) in the process.
We call it, win wi-nomnomnomnom.
From a couple of flakey cakey hours, to a masterclass in seafood (you’d just have to have a ‘Master of the Sea’ apron made), there’s a cuisine and time commitment for everyone.
Here’s Brit McGinnis to take us, course by course, through a few of the tastiest cooking schools in Ireland.
Give Us This Day…
The Irish can’t live without their bread, and it has to be said, they’re pretty darn good at baking it. The cooks at the Baking Academy of Ireland know this well, and they’ve a variety of courses to teach amateurs (that’s us!) how make real Irish grain. Knowing that everyone drools for the famous soda bread they offer up four different types for students to learn (plus soda scones! Sure half the success of a B&B is in the scones). Spelt bread and buttermilk sourdough are also on the bill, depending on your tastes. The traditional Bram Brack is a great one to know for Halloween. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get the slice with the penny in it!
By The Sea
Visitors have crossed oceans to taste Ireland’s clam chowder, so trust us when we say they know what they’re doing. The Mourne Seafood Cookery School is the place to learn what they’re doing. They offer ‘masterclasses’ (ranging from 2.5 to 6 hours), showing the techniques, recipes, and ending with eating the meal you cooked yourself. If you don’t fancy the whole class, just stop in for a Demonstration & Taster. They’re completely customisable (that’s a word, right?), so if you felt like sampling only fish all night (don’t tempt me!), they’d be more than willing to make that happen.
The modern Irish diet
We’re sure you know it’s not all potatoes and Guinness for meals here, not since the 1870s anyway. But there is still a recent pull towards a healthier typical meal, and Belfast Cookery School is part of it. Hence its Healthy Eating and Fish Cookery courses. Their class on a Modern Irish Dinner Party shows students how to make fresh, lighter versions of the typical diet. Call it Potato 2.0.
We know we’ll get an arched eyebrow for telling you that while over in Ireland you should take an Italian cooking class, but bear with us. Pizza and pasta are a worldwide phenomenon now, and you don’t need a view of the Colosseum to tuck into the perfect pasta fagioli (actually you go to Dublin’s Pinocchio according to food critic Paulo Tullio). So combine those long-cherished Italian recipes with Irish ingredients and you’ve got a recipe (sorry) for a success! Director of Flavour of Italy Cooking School Giuseppe Crupi says he loves watching the students transform during the class:
I see the students arriving and timidly interacting sipping a glass of wine. Then they go to the classroom and something changes. It is magical: people start to gel in a natural way since the preparation of the food is something deep rooted into human nature. It is a bonding moment, just like kneading, nobody can teach you how to do it, it is a personal experience: you let your hands go and all of a sudden you find yourself chatting to new friends almost looking in awe at your own hands working the dough. Something inside has been awakened and wants to express itself.
Start ‘em Young
If you’re a bit of a schemer (that’ll be the Irish influence no doubt), you might be thinking ‘hmmm… what if I start the little ones early, maybe teach them to break an egg or two, and they might eventually manage pasta’. Well we’re all for education, so we’ve found that the brilliant Just Cooking school in County Kerry offers an entire “Big Chef, Little Chef” class based around cooking with children. So before whipping around the epic Ring of Kerry, you can get them into the mood for adventure with a cooking class. And everyone’s less cranky with some food in their belly, right?
For the Boys
The scheming continues as you consider the untapped potential of your dad/brother/boyfriend/husband. Is he a little reluctant to join in all the cooking hoopla? Well a recent cooking trend in Ireland is men-only cooking classes. At Cork’s Umnumnum Cooking School (which may just have the best name ever), the man in your life can be taught to make Brioche French Toast (for breakfast in bed) or even Chocolate Key Lime Pie (for the lesser-known dessert in bed).
The Sweetest Thing
Sometimes all you want is something for your sweet tooth. Dublin’s Cake Café is famous around these parts for their godlike skills with all things sugar, but the best part is they also share their skills. Which means at your next dinner party, dessert could be homemade fondant, cupcakes or a wheat free chocolate log. I don’t know what a chocolate log is, but Heaven help me I want to make one. The best part of all? The Café lets you box up and take home everything you make. A lovely reminder of your time spent cooking and baking in Ireland, though they’ll be gone well before you get on the plane.