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Ballymaloe House, Cork, Ireland
Field work: One of Ireland's top cooking schools sits on a 400-acre historic estate outside the city of Cork. Guests can drop in for afternoon classes on everything from foraging to pickling, home butchery to butter churning, all with ingredients from the surrounding organic farm. Gardener Mick Cullinane, who has lovingly tended the gardens for more than 50 years, instructs guests on picking herbs and vegetables (including the 40-plus tomato varieties he cultivates) and harvesting and storing seeds; he also leads classes on creating and maintaining orchards.
Farm table: Gingham napkins and blue-and-white china tea sets accompany breakfasts of eggs collected that morning on the farm, stone-ground oatmeal from a local mill, and fresh breads still hot from the kitchen and slathered in house-made jams. Dinners are no-fuss seasonal salads, fresh shellfish gathered in nearby Kenmare, and grass-fed local lamb, all followed by hearty puddings and lively Irish music.
Bedtime: Ballymaloe's 30 rooms include a 15th-century Norman tower, a 16th-century gatekeeper's house, and quaint farm cottages. Though each room is different, all are united by a lively Irish country feel, from shiny brass beds with bright floral linens to antique writing desks bearing flower arrangements fresh from the garden.
Tel: 353 21 4652 531
From $123, including breakfast