Ballymaloe Day 5 – Fire Up Some Wine and Cheese

Today was a theory day, which means two things: (1) we sit in an all-day lecture about some topical issue in the culinary world, be it the restaurant industry, food hygiene, wine tasting and serving, and (2) there is no cooking. This was a huge relief because by the end of this week, I was absolutely exhausted (not to mention maybe a tiny bit hungover from our pub-outing and pasta-making escapade from the night/morning before). We started the day off with a quick introduction to Irish farmhouse cheeses including Milleens, Cashel Blue, Gubbeen, Ardsallagh, Cooleeney, and Durrus. Then we had a brief demo on how to make cheese biscuits, redcurrant jelly (it takes exactly 9 minutes to make…why was I fooled into buying Smuckers all these years?), and a proper cup of tea (Irish style…no tea bags here!). Then, we had a quick tea/coffee break, and I was thankful as I desperately needed some caffeine. Afterwards, we had a mini wine class. I was surprised to learn that I was one of only four students that have some qualifications in wine. We watched this incredibly kitschy but hilarious video on wine made by English Master of Wine Hugh Johnson. Later in the afternoon, we were given a number of informative presentations including one by local coffee roaster Mark Kingston who sells single-estate Guatemalan coffee in Ireland, a talk on fire safety and precautions, and a food hygiene lecture.

Afterwards, I went back to the cottage to grab my week’s laundry, as we are all assigned one day a week to do our laundry in the industrial-size washers. I have to say my chef whites were pretty grubby after only three days in the kitchen. The rest of the evening was spent chilling with my housemates. In a desperate attempt to create something to eat for supper with our scant groceries in the house, housemate Jenn and I created a recipe that we decided to call “Eggy Bally Bread,” which basically consists of four ingredients: toasted brown soda bread slathered with butter and Ballymaloe Country Relish topped with scrambled eggs. Season accordingly. We will be top chefs in no time with such culinary improvisation skills. 😉

This weekend should prove to be a good one. We are hitching a ride with fellow culinarian Jamie, who has a highly coveted motor vehicle, and we are all going to check out the Midleton Farmer’s Market, which was founded by Darina herself. I’m hoping to pick up a few things while down there and maybe hit up the local Tesco’s for some additional items. On Sunday, I will hopefully get all of my filing done. We are expected to have all of our recipes categorized and filed in 5-inch binders, and it is part of our final evaluation in the certification exam. To top off the weekend, Luca is graciously going to give us a lesson in making gnocchi from scratch, which we will have for our Sunday dinner. Then it’s on to Week Two at Ballymaloe!

Here are a couple of snaps that I took today, including a trolley of local Irish farmhouse cheeses, the famed Eggy Bally Bread, the wonderful bottle of Bordeaux that we had with our dinner, and kitchen plates in our cottage that are strangely reminiscent of the ones in Professor Umbridge’s office from Harry Potter.

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