Summer cooking courses in Cork and Dublin
You probably wouldn't go to Belfast or Limerick to taste la cucina Toscana or le Cordon Bleu, but for foodies and wannabe cooks who like fun with their fresh fish and roast potatoes, Ireland has a healthy, natural cuisine that can be explored in historic Dublin castles and islands of the Cork coast.
Ballymaloe Cookery SchoolDarina Allen offers everything from a half-day "Irresistible Breakfasts" seminar to an intensive 12-week cooking course that has helped quite a few burned-out bankers and teachers to find a new career in the kitchen. Located in the rolling hills of east Cork, the Ballymaloe Cookery School is a very hands-on place with its own lambs, bees, chickens and organic gardens. Students can stay in simple cottages or in the luxury of Ballymaloe House, a famous country-mansion hotel.
The Kitchen in the Castle The Kitchen in the Castle cookery school is part of Howth Castle, an historic Irish fortress located on the north side of Dublin Bay. Among the most popular one-day courses is "Feast from the Sea", which is described as a must for "all fish and shellfish fans". Students meet the local fishmonger at Nicky's Plaice, and then it's back to the Kitchen in the Castle to cook while learning about the differences between "freshwater fish" and "crustaceans".
Island CottageOn a tiny island off the west coast of Cork, John Desmond and Ellmary Fenton run what they say is "probably the smallest Cookery School in the world". The two-day course at Island Cottage is for two people only. But first you've got to get to Heir Island, which is home to 25 families. Luckily, there's a regular ferry service, "a blue boat called the Thresher captained by John Moore and Richard Pyburn". When it comes to cooking, John and Ellmary say that "The best local ingredients for us tend to be fresh fish, duck or lamb. The island fishermen provide us with wild salmon when in season, shrimp and crab."