Another week down in the Ballymaloe Cookery School Book has me falling into the groove of this place. Some of the highlights of the past week were breaking down a whole chicken, filleting a fish, and learning how to butcher half a lamb. It's so empowering to know I can now go to my local butcher, buy half a lamb and I'll know how to process and make it into cuts of meat.
We're finding our way around — today I went on a magnificent run along the ocean. And most importantly, my confidence in the kitchen is gaining. Trying to follow my gut in the kitchen has proven slightly impossible because I find myself second guessing all my moves with a teacher looking over my shoulder and 64 other students clamoring away in the foreign kitchen. Plus, the school has their own way of doing everything and I mean ev-er-REE-thing. Had you ever thought it possible to declare the premier way to complete a mundane task such as peeling a banana? Well, at Ballymaloe they only stamp banana peeling with approval when you do it the Ballymaloe way. You know, like the way monkeys peel bananas. For God's sake.
There, now I've had my vent and I can start to gush a little more about this place. The produce is phenomenal. Fresh, earthy beets, spinach as leafy as rainbow chard, eggplant has never tested so delicious, free range chicken with true chicken flavor, orange yolked eggs, new herb discoveries like sweet geranium and chervil. Freshly foraged chanterelles and nettles come into the kitchen for the cult classic Saturday Pizzas. The school and farm were never open to the public unless you had booked a cookery class or were staying at their Ballymaloe House hotel until they started Saturday Pizzas almost 10 years ago, opening the school to the public for pizza cooked in their brick oven. On Saturday I got to help out in the kitchen at Saturday Pizzas and they even trusted me enough to cook the chanterelles! It was really fun, fast-paced and I'm learning what it's like to work in a restaurant kitchen. I couldn't believe the efficiency of the brick oven — pizzas were cooked in 1-2 minutes.
And finally, I'm accustomed to glancing to the right for oncoming traffic instead of left, so I guess I'll stay awhile longer and learn more about becoming a culinary mastermind. Later. XO. Becki