A cookery school at a castle? Sounds to me like the most idyllic place to whip up your culinary skills.
Belle Isle Estate sits on 470-acres in County Fermangh in Northern Ireland. The lakeside hamlet of rolling hills, dense woodland and lowland fields functions with a busy working farm, manor house, self-catering cottages and cookery school.
In 2003, the Duke of Abercorn, owner of the property, agreed to reconfigure an existing building with the latest stainless steel and enamel appliances. A functional floor-plan, ample uncluttered workstations, and bountiful natural light make the cheerful interior an ideal classroom for up to fourteen students. Belle Isle Cookery School classes offered range from an evening demonstration to a full day or weekend hands-on lesson, each culminating in a sit-down meal. Students may choose to stay in the self-catering cottages– in my mind, an ultimate girlfriend getaway.
For those interested in pursing a culinary career, a demanding four-week diploma course will hone necessary skills and techniques.
Liz Moore, the warm and passionate director, leads the school based on with her extensive background as a chef and her modern attitude toward cooking. She is known for promoting and incorporating seasonal, local ingredients, some of which are grown on the premises. “Ireland has moved beyond meat and potatoes,” she said and indeed the innovative class schedule provides a grand example. Choose from Thai, Italian, Indian or Chinese courses, hot and cold starters from around the world or the art of the sauce. I’d love to take the ‘complete tapas party’ class.
While I had the pleasure of visiting and spending a night at Belle Isle Castle, Liz prepared a lovely assortment of appetizers for my group. I can assure you, they were even more delicious than they looked.
Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.
Here is a Cookery School recipe that’s ripe for late summertime preparation. Enjoy.
Nectarines with Parma Ham and Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 ripe nectarines, halved
- Shavings of Parmesan cheese
- 6 slices of Parma ham
- Olive oil
- Fresh rocket to garnish
- For the dressing:
- 50g/2oz sugar
- 4 peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 glass white wine
- Sprig rosemary
- 3 to 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
To make the dressing, put the wine, sugar, vinegar, peppercorns, cloves, and rosemary in a large pan. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Cool.