|Tim and Darina Allen in the Fruit Garden at Ballymaloe Cookery School.|
We're heading into week eight at school which means almost four weeks have past since the last update on the lightening-fast-paced cookery adventures. If silence is any indicator of lacking mental energy remaining for these at the end of my day then let this be clear — I am tired. So. Tired. A teensy, weensy part of me wants the course over to allow a time of processing all I've cooked/read/learned/seen/heard/experienced. But, the other mostly large part of me says: bring it on! more. more! More! MORE!!! What else can I learn? Cook? Do? See?
|More really interesting vegetables, like Romanesco broccoli.|
|Shucking and preparing fresh seafood.|
|Unmolding my Dingle Pie. The pastry on this was the easiest to work with, so far.|
|Darina honors birthdays with a cake and the classic birthday song.|
|It hasn't been all school work. A cocktail at Rive Gauche in Kilkenny crystal.|
|The Kilkenny Castle.|
|This whiskey called to me because of the writer's block I've suffered from while here. Too tired to write!|
|Castle at Waterford.|
|Back in the Kitchen! Rutabega & Potato Soup with Crispy Pancetta and Parsley Oil.|
|Indian Pratha Breads ready for serving in the dining room.|
|Kale & Cabbage Salad with Roasted Veg, Beluga Lentils and Lemon Tahini Dressing.|
Last week we had our midterm exam in which I received 100% marks on the salad and herb identification and 83% on the technical portion. Basically, we had to identify 10 herbs and name two recipes that each herb would complement, identify 10 salad leaves, pour and serve a glass of wine properly, assemble a restaurant-grade food processor and blender, set a table according to the menu given, chop and sweat an onion, make a paper-piping bag from parchment, and perform two random techniques from a list of twenty. From the luck of the draw, for the technical portion I was given a fish to filet and yeast rolls to form out of a blob of dough. That fish took me 45 minutes to filet!
Big breath. We're on the final stretch. The students of the school are going to host a fundraiser for the community and we've termed it "Mad Hatter — Alice in Wonderland." We're going to cook a themed dinner, decorate the place all crazy and I get to be the host for the night with fellow student, Clara, who is Irish — she's an utter doll. The next morning is Christian's birthday, so I'm going to host a Recovery Brunch/Birthday party for him here at our house.
Last night, the kids did Trick o' Treat Irish style which they had loads of fun, Christian painted his own face as a skeleton and Liam was Hulk. Things are little more old-fashioned here, like, for example, the kids were given apples, baggies of homemade popcorn, handfuls of loose gummy candies, a latex glove full of worms, things that would never pass muster at home because people might think someone had poisoned the candy. One woman came to the door dressed as an authentic witch, dark doorstep and all, flashlight under chin, creepy voice asking twice if the boys wanted to "join her gang", Christian promptly said NO, grabbed his candy, and as they were running away Liam says "She was a real witch!"
Tomorrow I have a full day of cooking, actually, the whole next week is so full-on crazy busy. No, the next five weeks is not going to stop. It does not stop. That teensy, weensy part of me wants to crawl into bed and sleep for three days, but here I am in Ireland - cooking! Life is good. This is good. I'm going to be a chef. Yes, chef.