Ballymaloe Day 7 – ¡Holy Guacamole!

Today was Mexican day in the kitchen, and there was a lot on the plate, so to speak. My dishes included quesadillas with a tomato and coriander salsa (otherwise known as pico de gallo) and guacamole, tortillas (from scratch…yeah, this is cooking school after all), a side of frijoles de olla (black beans stewed with epazote), and crème caramel for dessert. I was also on duty to make lemonade for lunch. It was pretty hectic in the kitchen, but I suppose I have to get used to the multi-tasking side of it. I used to joke in my old days when I was an attorney that I was really good at unitasking, so having to remember a million things going on at once is a little scary…especially when it involves burning-hot caramel sauces, sharp knives, gas stoves, and other dangerous instrumentalities. After running around my station and keeping my mise-en-place in some sort of respectable order, my dishes somehow magically came together in the end. I think it was a small miracle to be honest. Every morning, there is this stage in the cooking process when the following things happen all at once: (1) you’re trying to finish up cooking all of your dishes; (2) you’re trying to season and garnish the dishes; (3) you’re trying to clean your station; and (4) you’re thinking about plating your food. Somehow though, it all manages to fall into place (well, at least it has so far). Anyway, my dishes came out fine in the end, save for my frijoles de olla, which were underseasoned (Rick Bayless would probably be very disappointed in me, but in all honesty, that dish was my least favorite anyway…it should have just been made into refried beans, but that was a separate recipe on today’s menu). My instructor said my guacamole was perfect, and he kept sneaking tastes of it. I think I might be an expert with anything involving avocados (maybe I can put that on my resume –> specialty: avocados –> hire me). My quesadillas were decent, although I need to get better with my tortilla-rolling skills. All in all, it was a good learning experience in the kitchen today.

Rachel Allen did the afternoon demo again today. I pretty much love her. I could just watch her cook for hours…she is absolutely seamless. This is probably why she has her own cooking show. I am usually so exhausted by the time the afternoon demo rolls around, but somehow I got a second wind today and and felt completely fine. It was probably the first time since the course started that I managed not to yawn a million times during the demo.

After demo, I came back to the house to get ready to go out to our ‘local’ for the evening. There is a pub down the road called “The Goal Post,” and a bunch of us wanted to check it out. We also have theory day tomorrow, so we didn’t have to worry about preparing our orders of work. We first had a bottle of wine and Luca made us a quick dinner of some mozzarella di buffala with olive oil, basil, and tomato sauce (grazie mille, Luca!). Jenn, Luca, Kait, and Oisín (fellow students who live in a neighboring cottage) made it down to the pub, and we were quickly followed by another group of students. All in all, we had a lovely evening in the pub, and I think it will likely become a Tuesday night tradition with us.

I promise to update this post with some pics from today, but I gotta get some sleep first!

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