When I was at the Slow Food Mayo event I met a lovely lady called Brenda. As we were both there on our own we got chatting and Brenda told me all about her lovely cottage and invited me to call over.
Laurel Cottage is in beautiful County Mayo. Although it’s very close to Ireland West Airport and Knock Shrine, (you can see the shrine in the distance from the dining room window) it’s also very secluded and peaceful. You know you are in rural Ireland when the grass grows in the middle of the road!
Brenda took early retirement and left busy Dublin for an oasis of tranquility in Mayo. She’s an educator, has been for most of her life and loves sharing her knowledge of gardening, cooking and foraging with others. Brenda is no stranger to growing her own food, she’s been growing her own for years – before it became cool. In fact she featured on a Dublin website back in 2010.
Although the weather wasn’t the best I enjoyed looking at the beautiful gardens, we spent some time in the summer house and we fed the fish and chickens. Brenda showed me all the fruit and vegetables she is growing and I got to taste some of them.
Brenda cooked the most spectacular lunch, she’s a real champion of Irish food and served organic Achill salmon for a starter with homemade pesto, raita and brown bread, it was delicious.
We enjoyed non-alcoholic Highbank Orchards Cider to drink, Highbank is a big hit at Laurel Cottage as we also enjoyed their syrup with figs (it was the first time I’d ever eaten a fig – apart from a fig roll and I don’t think that counts!)
For the main course there was tender Achill Mountain Lamb and Organic turkey breast along with homemade stuffing.
We had potatoes, cabbage, beetroot and courgette all fresh from the garden. There’s such a difference in flavour with homegrown produce, it was all lovely.
Brenda had even made her own crackers and chutneys to go with the cheese. I was particularly taken by the Spiced Beetroot and Orange Chutney. I’ve never had a beetroot chutney before, if Brenda decides to sell her products I’ll be first in the queue!
It was a lovely leisurely afternoon with great company and fantastic food, I also met the two best behaved cats in the world!
The good news is that Brenda has recently signed up to Air B&B so if you are looking for a rural retreat this would be perfect for you. I also think Brenda would be great at offering experiences such as gardening advice or learning how to make bread.