Another day in the kitchen down and still no mishaps. Hooray! I am beginning to think that I’m getting the hang of this gig…well, I won’t get overconfident, but I definitely felt a lot more at ease than I did the first few days here. Perhaps it is because I now know where to find ingredients and where the equipment is located in my kitchen…too bad we rotate kitchens next week. I guess it kind of mirrors real life: nothing is constant. I did get a little boost of confidence today when my instructor tasted my apple crumble tart and said it was cooked perfectly. She even took an extra slice of my tart to have for lunch because she liked it so much. Considering this was the first time I have ever made shortcrust pastry in my life, I was pretty thrilled. Also, as an aside, my instructor Rosie has the best Irish accent. She is from Cork, and everything she says sounds like a song with the way she inflects certain words when she speaks. She even has some funny expressions. For example, when she came over to my station to check how I was doing with rolling out my pastry, she laughed and said, “Well, my dear, aren’t you being naughty with the flour?” When I looked at her in confusion, she then said, “I meant you used a bit too much of it.” Haha!
My other dish was a grape, ruby grapefruit, and mint cocktail. I was much better with my plating this time around, but I think I could do with a few more tries at segmenting citrus fruit…and don’t get me started on peeling grapes! I had to peel exactly 10 grapes, and I basically wanted to commit seppuku by the end of it. Hmm…if I ever serve this kind of dessert again, I will just make people eat the grapes as is – skins and all. Are grape skins really that offensive? Isn’t that where all the nutrients are in the fruit anyway? Wine wouldn’t exist without grape skins (and I hesitate to think of a world with no wine!), so I think people should just get over their aversion to grape skins in fruit cocktails. Okay, minor rant finished.
After a very delicious afternoon demo with Rory O’Connell (Darina’s brother…this school is a real family affair), my housemates and I headed back to our cottage. We decided to go over to the local pub in Ballycotton to have a few well-deserved pints. The place was packed out with a number of other Ballymaloe students, and a great evening was had by all. When we arrived back to our cottage in the wee hours of the morning, there was only one thing to do: cook! Well, what else would would a group of hungry and drunk culinary students do with no local late-night chipper?! We didn’t have much in the cottage, since none of us has had the chance to do any proper grocery shopping. Luckily, we managed to scrounge up some rotini, chorizo, and Irish cheddar, and Luca made us the best pasta I have ever had outside of Italy. I have to say it is pretty nice to have an Italian housemate who likes to cook! I even get to practice my Italian with him, and he is going to teach all of us how to make gnocchi and risotto from scratch. I feel very lucky indeed!
Tomorrow is a theory day, so no cooking and no duties! I think my hungover self will be able to handle that. Time for bed! Here’s some pics of my dishes from today, the local pub, and our late-night pasta making!