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Al Fresco at Ballymaloe. "Contemplation" in copper by Helen Walsh
These are the days. Lunch al fresco at the Garden Café Truck by the Ballymaloe Cookery School. And another impressive sculpture exhibition on the lawn in front of Ballymaloe House. And new this summer is their own Ballymaloe Cider. Try it while you’re there.
Actually, let me start with the cider. You’ll find it in the bar at Ballymaloe House where Traford Murphy is the genial manager. It comes in a 500ml bottle and the ABV is 5.2%. It is made from apples from the Ballymaloe House orchards, also from trees across the farm and alongside the appropriately name Orchard Cottage. Varieties included Dabinett, Crimson Bramley, Santana, Topas, Delles Bell and Dellinquo, plus other old varieties.
It has an amber colour, fountains of little bubbles rising. Packed with intense flavour, pleasant and refreshing all the way to a lip-smacking finish. One of the drier craft ciders around and definitely one to try.
So suitably refreshed, let us pop out to the lawn. You’ll can’t miss the “congregation” of sculptures here but you’ll see too that the old golf course is now a meadow. Should be quite a feature in a year or two.
The sculptures are curated by Richie Scott www.rssculpture.com and are generally not as large as they were in previous years. There are still some big ones though, most notably The Bear (this time with The Cub), both in stainless steel by Patrick O’Reilly. There are, as always some quirky ones. I liked the bronze Goat by Seamus Connolly and the marble Venus of Holles Street by Jason Ellis.
There are over forty pieces in all and Michael Quane is well represented and I enjoyed his Diver in Carrara marble. My favourite piece though (after two visits) is the Trifecta, featuring a trio of hounds in a race. Trifecta is a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a race in the correct order. Might be hearing less of that after the current controversy in the greyhound industry.
Never much of a gamble when you visit the Garden Café Truck by the Ballymaloe Cookery School. You are guaranteed a win here as the food is excellent, based on very local produce indeed. Of course, if you cannot make it over to the school, you’ll eat well too at the cafe behind the shop in Ballymaloe House.
We did make it to the school and enjoyed our hour or so there. It is all pretty informal, your tables and chairs sheltered by a “tent”. Just check out the menu boards, make your choice, order and pay, and your food will be brought to your table.
If the day is hot, and we hope they will be for some time to come, then the Cold Cucumber Soup will go down well. Lots of other cool drinks on offer including Elderflower cordial, Homemade lemonade, or organic raw milk. Anyone fancy a Strawberry Popsicle?
Mocha Choca Yumma
Some beautiful salads and sandwiches on the board too. The menu is short, as you’d expect, and can vary from day to day. The Hot and Spicy Slow Roasted Lamb Taco, with chipotle mayo, hot sauerkraut, cooling avocado, and fiery rocket, is a favourite here over the past few years and I enjoyed that while CL was delighted with her Farm Salad.
The Cookery School is noted for its top quality on the bakery side and you are strongly advised to take advantage. I’d say any cake on the day (there are usually two) will be delicious but my favourite is perhaps the Mocha Choca Indulgent Cake, not that the Tahini Cake is far behind. Enjoy those with a cup of their excellent coffee.