Ballymaloe Days 21-22 – Breakfast of Champions…and Sick Students

The allegedly dreaded week 5 begins…and so also begins my stint in the Demo Kitchen. When I first walked in, I was a little apprehensive about the setup. For starters, there are only six of us, so there isn’t that sense of hustle and bustle that you get with the other kitchens. That seems great in terms of individualized attention with the instructors, and it is a relatively quiet space in which to work. On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of space in which to move around, and there is only one sink at the very end of the kitchen. Conversely, it is the demo kitchen afterall, which means that it is stocked with every piece of culinary equipment, kitchen utensil, serving platter, etc. that you can imagine. Anyway, on my list for the morning’s cooking was a Kerry Pie (a savory pie made with lamb, carrots, onion, parsley and thyme) and some poached rhubarb with sweet geranium leaves. It seemed easy enough, but the pastry and then baking the pie took forever, and it ended up not being ready for lunch on time. I was quite proud of making handmade leaves out of the leftover dough to decorate my pie though…now that I think of it perhaps that is why it took so long to get my pie in the oven. Oops! The poached rhubarb came out perfectly, but let’s be honest – it didn’t take much skill beyond cutting up the rhubarb to equal sized pieces and letting them soak in a stock syrup. Still, I’ll take my successes where I can get them! All in all, it turned out to be a pretty decent day in the demo (how’s that for unintentional alliteration?), and I even got to shuck an oyster. Yet, I’m still on the fence about the demo kitchen…like everything in my life, I’m sure I’ll grow attached to it by the end of the week.

Demo this afternoon was primarily focused on breakfast foods. Rory showed us how to make all kinds of preprandial delights including: buck’s fizz (also known as a mimosa) spotted dog (white flour-based bread made with dried fruits), two types of oatmeal porridge (macroom and pinhead/steel cut), various kinds of muesli, breakfast kippers, and my personal favorite: an authentic Irish breakfast (complete with rashers, sausages, black and white pudding, and fried eggs). There was also a potato bread on the menu that is  called ‘fadge,’ which in my opinion is a highly unfortunate name. Kait, Jenn, and I had a hard time not breaking down into fits of laughter at the description of the recipe, which stated that “[i]n Ulster, people are passionate about fadge.” I’ve discovered that your mind gets dirtier and dirtier at culinary school. There is a sexual innuendo and/or double entendre in everything…I mean it…you don’t even have to look for them.

Later in the evening, I was planning on having a French omelette, so as to fit in some omelette-making practice, but then Matthew told me that he had an entire steak that he didn’t want. Not one to turn down a delicious piece of meat (See? There’s an innuendo for you right there), I cooked it up and just had it with some scrambled eggs and tabasco sauce. Then I watched a couple of episodes of “Flight of the Conchords” with Matthew, who hailing from London, had never heard of the show.

I’m combining this entry with a post about today (Tuesday), as I ended up feeling a little under the weather this morning. It appears as if some kind of bug is going around, so I was overly cautious and took the morning off from the kitchen. Nobody wants to have Lisa’s germs for lunch. Fortunately, we were only doing breakfast foods, so I don’t think that I missed too much. Still, I was feeling better by the afternoon, so I did make it in for the demo with Rachel. This place is like a small community though – during the break at the demo, it seemed that basically everyone knew that I had been feeling ill. I don’t remember the last time in my life that I was asked if I was feeling better more times than I was asked today. It was cool that people were so concerned but a little weird at the same time. I’m fine – I swear! Fortunately, the attention will be taken off me this evening as Luca and Cat are having a tomato sauce competition in our house tonight, and I get to be one of the judges (a gig that I couldn’t turn down).

Here are some photos, kids.

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4 thoughts on “Ballymaloe Days 21-22 – Breakfast of Champions…and Sick Students

  1. Lisa – Loving the blog, so thank you for sharing. I hope you don’t mind if I share it around some like minded foodies. I’m extra fascinated as my brother Oisín is on the course! It seems idyllic. I am very jealous!

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