Oh lordy, it's already week twelve and not a child washed in the house as they say! My practical exam is tomorrow which I'm shaking at the knees about and the written exams will take place on Friday. We're all off to Ballymaloe House for a well deserved let-the-hair-down-but-don't-get-drunk-as-it's-frowned-upon dinner on Friday evening followed by a crazy night in the Ballycotton Blackbird on Friday night. Fun, fun, fun!
It's been so long since I've posed last that I'm not going to write an essay with a paragraph dedicated to each event so the engineer in me is going to break out and summarise some of the high points over the last few weeks... Just be thankful that it's not in spread-sheet format!!!
- We visited the makers of the delicious Bay Lough cheddar cheese at their farm in Co. Tipp and got to see the curds being cut and tasted lots of samples - when you try you buy, so we all left laden down with cheddar!
- I spent a day - in my element - working on the farmers market stall in Midleton. I've learned that it's very satisfying to be able to explain to a middle woman how to tell when beetroot is cooked when asked.
- I spent a night in Ballymaloe House gutting & filleting mackerel for a Taste of Cork - not half as manky as it sounds.
- I learned how to make brioche, puff pastry, flaky pastry, croissants, carraway seed bread, fougasse, chipatis, naans and a bunch of other breads.
- I got to meet the AMAZING and GIGANTIC (6"8) head chef at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore. GO THERE, if only for the scallion egg yolks!!! That's all I'm going to say....
- Spent a few hours rolling sushi during one of the afternoon demonstrations - great fun.
- Took afternoon tea in Ballymaloe House and got to hear about the history of the house as well as some motivational words from the legendary Myrtle Allen.
- Sat my wine exam and did very well thank-you-very-much. Not well enough for the Bollinger Champagne but I think I can tell my Burgundy's from my Bordeaux at this juncture.
- Sat through two brilliant lectures given by Darina's sister, Blaithned Bergin about food costing and the highs & lows of setting up your own business.
- Saw more of smoker Frank Hederman than was decent at 8.50 in the am (poor Frank was caught unaware when a bus load of Ballymaloe students arrived before the scheduled time).
- Learned how to make a crystal clear consomee - very exciting, no really it is!
- Cooked, and ate, lots & lots of lobster!
- Learned how to make amazing cupcakes from Claire Ptak, ex (and reported best) pastry chef from Chez Panisse in California.
There's about 100 other things that I could add to this list but alas, the study desk calls. Hopefully, the next time I write, I'll have managed to sort out some sort of employment to keep me going. If you know of any nice cafe's / restaurants, that cook local, organic & seasonal food, with friendly staff, looking for an enthusiastic chef with little experience, please drop me a line.... High Expectations, moi? Why not reach for the stars? Life is short...