Day Four - The longest day ???

 A gentle stroll to the office 

A gentle stroll to the office 

Well that was a long day …

One of the great things about the Ballymaloe course is that they offer you the chance to do things that are not on the standard course syllabus … on the first or second day (I can’t remember now … it seems to long ago 😊) they give you a list of all the extra curricular activities that you can do (at no cost) but in your “own” time! The list of options is like a dream list for anyone who is into their food … the phrase kid in a sweet shop comes to mind!

Here’s a sample (There’s more but I can’t remember them at the moment !!!)

  • The Bread Shed … assist in making the days and next days Sourdough and other breads
  • Fermentation … learn how to make kombucha, kefir water etc.
  • Charcuterie  … learn how to make salami, chorizo etc.
  • Organic Gardening … self explanatory
  • Professional experience … observe and assist at the Ballymaloe House restaurant kitchen
  • Middleton Farmers market … work on the Ballymaloe stand
  • Douglas Farmers Market … work on a pizza stall at the market
  • Saturday Pizza … Assist with the pizza making at the Cookery school on Saturday
  • Cheese making … self explanatory

There’s more but I can’t remember them at the moment !!! 

So this morning I had put my name with another classmate down for the bread shed at 7 a.m. with Tim! When my alarm clock went off at 6 a.m. there wasn’t a seconds hesitation about getting out of bed … I remember not so long ago when the snooze button would be hit multiple times … what a difference a couple of months makes! Anyway I digress … Tim is very happy to share his knowledge and does so with authority, enthusiasm and an easy manner. I really enjoyed it (you can see it from my smile below) and will definitely do as many more sessions in the “shed” as I possibly can! 

As I mentioned yesterday today was a lecture day primarily … It started with Darina giving a very interesting presentation on Irish farmhouse cheeses, she knows each of the main cheesemakers personally so it was fantastic to get that insight directly! If I’m really honest I didn’t know about half the cheeses we covered but I can tell you now I’ll be going out of my way to get to know them intimately soon 😊

The rest of the morning was spent covering Food Hygiene and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System) … some scary stuff and I will be scrubbing out my fridge completely when I get home and reorganising everything !!! 

Lunch today was cooked by the teachers and they put on a fantastic spread, let’s see if I can remember (we already had the Irish farmhouse cheeses and cakes at 11 a.m.!!!) … Spiced mustard greens, the big green salad, quinoa salad, Tagliatelle with lamb shoulder, mashed potato, roast ham (there was more but …) I won’t tell you what was for desert as I would like some of you to continue reading this blog! Let’s just say they encourage you to taste everything … Everything !! 

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The afternoon session started with a fire safety talk by a local fire safety expert (William Cahill from Callan Fire protection) everybody warmed to his dry Cork sense of humour and quite aptly we had a fire drill …

Then came the good stuff … our first wine lecture with Colm McCan, Colm is a wine merchant and wine teacher at the school (obviously!) but he used to be the head sommelier at Ballymaloe house and even won the Food & Wine Magazine Sommelier of the Year 2014! Colm has a lovely way about him and the talk was entertaining throughout … today we tasted two Chardonnays (Chablis - Gerard Tremblay and a Stellenbosch Chardonnay, Rustenburg Estate). Already looking forward to the next one … oh ... I somehow promised to bring in some Luxembourgish white and Colm suggested I give a small talk on it! I laughed and cringed … me and my mouth … better read up on the Grand Duchy wine and put my best foot forward for my adopted home! 

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After the day was finished I had also put my name down with another 11 of my classmates for the cheese making workshop … The cookery school maintains a small herd of 10 Jersey cows that cover all their dairy needs and more!  From it they get Raw Milk, Buttermilk, Cream, Butter & Cheese, fascinating! We watched and assisted in the majority of the process and will have our own cheese made by our own fair hands to take home in 3 months ! 

So a 12 hour day with a difference … this time I have a massive smile on it at the end of it … but I wasn’t done there … I had to complete my order of work for tomorrows cooking … 

Tomorrow I am making 

  • Penne with mushrooms and rosemary
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Medjool Date, Ardsallgh Goats Cheese Salad

Let's hope there’s no drama …

Tomorrow morning I am also on vegetable and herb duty … picking and collecting them from the farm … so it’s a 7.30 a.m. start ! This seems to becoming a habit … Can’t believe Week One is nearly done !

P.S. thanks everyone for your comments on all the different platforms, keep them coming it's great to read them 😊