Howth Castle Cookery School: delightful, different, and totally delicious
All sorrows are less with bread.
And samosas, and black dahl, and a blood orange and pomegranate salad.
Located in Howth Castle's beautifully renovated eighteenth century kitchen is a cookery school that promises an experience equal parts informative, delicious, and incredibly fun.
Unashamedly considering myself to be quite an OK cook, I was eager to engage in such a class for the first time.
I wanted to learn more, to discover some new recipes, and maybe (just maybe) finally find out how to peel a garlic clove in under five minutes.
Like its kitchen, Howth Castle is too in the middle of a renovation, one that will eventually tie it to a planned luxury five star hotel due to open its doors in the next five years.
Now, its rooms are regulated to the odd wedding or two, video shoots, and of course, cookery classes.
They're spaces that demand to be filled with bustling parties and banquets, the historic kitchen the perfect setting for a class that's just as charming as the building it's set in.
But cooking classes aren't about the venue. They're about the food and, more importantly, the making of the food.
And thankfully, during my time in the class, I did just that.
Having literally zero cooking class experience in the past, I was unsure of what to expect.
My entire understanding of such events was limited to incredibly poor Home Ec classes aged 11 or weekend long binges of The Great British Bake Off.
So essentially, anxiety-fuelled, every-man-for-himself carnage.
As it turns out though, this particular cooking class was nothing like that - and rather, I left with a keen sense of pride and relaxation.
And a full stomach, naturally.
'Mid-week vegetarian suppers' was my class of choice, and given that I am both a vegetarian and enjoy eating mid-week, it seemed like a decent enough fit.
Understandably, my own mid-week feeds tend to be a far cry from the dishes we were creating during the cooking class (I never thought I would possess the ability to successfully reduce an agave that would then drizzle over a blood orange and pomegranate salad but now I do).
Despite this, the meals we were creating weren't all that far beyond my own household capabilities. Sure, I wasn't going to spend every Wednesday from now on baking potato bread from scratch, but at least now I knew that I could.
With the help of a few professional chefs to save my dough from severe and unnecessary kneading, that is.
The class itself - while incredibly hands on - avoids being hectic, with each group being tended to regularly by resident chefs John Carty and Sarah Hughes, both eager to share their expert culinary knowledge, as well as handy tips and tricks for everyday meal prep.
There's a considerable list of veg to be chopped, dough to be kneaded, and sauces to be stirred, but everybody gets a go of everything.
A comprehensive list of delicious foods that we made during this particular class included but were not limited to black dahl, carrot and cauliflower bhajis, and a gingery lime dipping yoghurt that I ended up consuming most of with a spoon before we had even sat down to eat.
I was hungry, but it was also just that good.
Afterwards, attendees are invited to taste their treats in next door's incredibly suave Butler's dining room - banquet style.
It's a space that has been refurbished to bring out the best of the Georgian architecture that has been a crucial part of the area for hundreds of years.
I almost found myself surprised that I only met these people a mere two hours ago. We had been through so much together. We had peeled, we had sliced, we had almost burned the agave syrup, but that's beside the point.
At the end of it all, our reward was food, wine, and most importantly, the intense sense of achievement that I personally had had a hand in creating a table full of food that was, in fact, entirely edible.
And incredibly tasty too.
Howth Castle Cookery School's current semester is running from now until the end of April.
Prices start at €90 per person. You can find a full list of available classes here.