It feels like its been ages since I wrote and I guess it has been, last Tuesday was the last time I actually had a free couple of hours to sit down and blog a few thoughts, not because I haven't wanted to but just because I have had some much going on ! I was in Darina's house Wednesday night for drinks, Ballymaloe House kitchen Thursday, Friday was a night at home, Saturday was spent with Jamie and Pol and then a few pints, Sunday was pretty much the same minus the pints and I just didn't grab a spare hour ... So where to start, at the beginning I guess.
Wednesday was an excellent lecture day, we had Blanaid, Darina's sister, who was giving us our first business lecture on the whole industry, it began with a video of Gordan Ramsey and one of his kitchen nightmare shows, except we were watching it with a critical eye and pointing out what failures or success's the business had and what they could have done differently, instead of just sitting there with a cup a tea shouting at the TV lol it was a really good exercise, well I thought it was The day continued in a similar fashion, she introduced us to the whole health and safety aspect, VAT, case studys and loads more I mean loads of information, I've read it twice and I still haven't taken it all in... Some pretty shocking things alright, none more so that dishonesty and theft are very much evident in the industry still, I'm sure its a minority and I for one wouldn't have any sympathy for anyone caught out... That's just my opinion.
That night led us literally up the garden path to Darinas house, shes currently on holiday in India, I say holiday in the loosest possible terms as I believe she is still in the middle of it all in terms of her charity and everything that goes with it, Rory and Toby were hosting a night for some of the students and I was a great evening, we had come lovely nibbles and champagne and elder flower cordial, lovely conversations and it was great to chat to both Rory and Toby outside the school environment, nice touch from them to give us a little peek behind the scenes. The food was stunning - we had cheesy bread sticks, lobster vol au vents, and shrimp with homemade mayo on brown bread with chervil and lettuce, they were all bite size and I had a main course worth of bites - when in Rome and all that. Darinas house is amazing, its nestled into the cottages with an extended part the sitting room was a vast open space with high arched roof and the biggest open fire I have ever seen ! There is as I've come to expect a lot of character in the house, loads of little knick knacks from her travels and what not and then some seriously impressive art work and one of the most unusual dining tables I have seen - its a huge table seating 8-10 I would have said and its covered in sheet metal its so unique looking and really is rustic. The night overall was great and a really welcome break from the hustle of the kitchen.
Thursday, jesus I'm actually struggling to remember what I cooked on Thursday I've been through so many recipes and things that I cook and almost forget it the following day, but the technique remains ingrained in my head so the figures and ingredients are interchangeable. I'm pretty sure I did a rabbit casserole and I was pretty impressed with the rabbit dish, it came in skinned but with all the bits and pieces still attached so I had to butcher it and I LOVE this part of the kitchen work, not that I want to be a butcher but I love understanding where the meat came from what cut it is how did I get it and everything else that goes with that, I really want to learn as much as I can while Im here and that is certainly one of the areas I like. I made an Ulster Champ, Mushroom a la Creme & one other dish that is escaping me now but I'll remember it and update the post
Thursday evening couldnt have come fast enough for me, I was going to Ballymaloe House and into the kitchen, my first time in a professional kitchen and I f**king loved every minute of it !!! Even though I did very little cooking the buzz of the whole thing just gave me so much energy and lift and I just wanted to get on the grill and cook, now I know before you all go yeah right boy you'll be peeling spuds for the first year, I am under no illusion that I will walk into a kitchen and simply start on a grill etc I know I have to earn my stripes and work hard and I am more than willing to do it and soak up every piece of information and detail that anyone is willing to share with me. And when my time comes I will take it.
I have to give a big thanks to Jason the head Chef in Ballymaloe and all the crew, Scott, Seamus & Tom, they couldn't have been more helpful, I mean think of a 4 year old child just saying "why" constantly to everything - that was me. "Why are you doing it that way", "Whats that for", "Where does that come from" I must have wrecked their heads but I learned so much in such short time. I was there when they were writing the menu and it was a lesson well learned for me, its one thing to be able to cook but its another to actually produce a menu of dishes an then get a team onto them straight away and producing top quality food - I was amazed. I've heard the saying before "be like a sponge" and I dont think I coul have been anymore sponge like lol I shall be returning to the kitchen every opportunity I get.
Friday I made a lamb tagine and cous cous, also a sun dried tomato, rosemary and garlic focaccia. I love the whole slow cooked food, breaking the meat down until its so tender it literally melts and the tagine was simply that, the flavours were amazing and it was my first introduction to saffron. Unusual taste but really nice when balanced with the other flavours in the dish. The cous cous was simple but a great compliment to the tagine, my foccai was a little bit of a cheats focaccia in that it wasn't a yeast bread but a soda style bread, non the less it was fantastic if I do say so myself lol. I managed to get to bring a few bits home as well, Jamie loved it all which I still cant understand, at 4 I was eating spuds and gravy, he has eaten dishes from all type of cuisines lol
Jeez I feel I written a shed load there now and I'm gonna call it a night, I'll blog again Wednesday I'd say as I'm going for a meal tomorrow night in the Moorings that Polly won on facebook - legend lol. We also had a meal in Caseys Steakhouse in Waterford Sunday night but that's for another blog
Before I go I must say a thanks to Sarah O'Riordan @yummynom on twitter, I had a lovely tweet and a great mention on her blog, she has awarded me a Liebster Blog Award and I was chuffed
Till next time ...
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