Sunday 22 March 2015

Week 10 & 11: The World is Your Oyster

After week 9 was over I started getting ‘the fear’ of going back to real life. The thought of the course coming to an end took over and I started thinking about what I’ll do next. I even had a little meltdown one evening when I got home, a mix of tiredness and anxiety made be burst into tears but my housemate was really great and brought me out for a walk along Garryvoe Strand, where we had a good chat which made me feel better.

I was still in kitchen 3 for the last two weeks but I missed Florie, she’s the teacher with the best people skills in that kitchen, she has the patience of a saint and explains things very well. I also had Fionula a few days during week 10 and she is very helpful too, which always makes a difference when you’re not really sure of what you’re doing.

During week 10 we covered a multitude of techniques and dishes, from using puff pastry for Gateau Pithiviers and vols au vents to cooking tuna and lobster as well as preserving and cooking duck. We also had our last wine lecture followed by a tapas demonstration by Rachel Allen, along with some Sherry brought by Colm (Ballymaloe House’s sommelier). 

We had our wine exam on the last day of week 10, which consisted of 100 multiple choice questions on everything we covered during the wine lectures. I think I did well overall but I know I made a few silly mistakes, especially with some of the questions about Australian wines and sherry.

After that, I had the long weekend in Dublin and I was delighted to be home. I spent lots of time baking and cooking as well as practising for my exam. 

Just before leaving Mr. FFID at Dublin Heuston station I had meltdown no. 2 (yes I know, that’s way too many in two weeks).  Fortunately he’s the most supportive person I know and convinced me that the world is really my oyster and that I can do anything after the course.

I was back in school on Paddy’s Day cooking a Thai Green curry, which was a little weird as I usually cook something Irish that day. During week 11 the demos covered techniques involving fish and seafood (squid, ray, salmon), how to make a beef consomm√© and lots of ice creams. 

I really enjoyed lecture day on Wednesday, during which we had a sushi demonstration followed by a foraging lesson in the gardens of the school with Darina. Now each time I’m walking to the village I keep my eyes peeled for something edible, it’s so funny. After that we all headed to Ballymaloe House where we got a full tour and a lovely afternoon tea in the conservatory. 

It was so inspiring to listen to Hazel Allen (Myrtle’s daughter in law, married to Rory Allen) and Darina talk about how Myrtle opened her house to the public when she decided to open a restaurant in 1964 at Ballymaloe House, this was definitely my highlight of the week.

Week 11 was the worst for me in the kitchen though and I felt like I had regressed as I was very slow. Maybe it was because I was cooking dishes that I’m not really a fan of, such as beef consomm√© and a chocolate mousse gateau that I’d consider (to use Rory O’Connell’s words) my idea of Hell, not the kind of thing I’d eat myself. Anyway, like in real life, every dish and every day here can’t be perfect!

It has really started to feel like Spring in Ballymaloe and we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some lovely sunny days. It’s bright now when we finish school so we can go for walks. 

On Friday evening I couldn’t believe that we only had a week left. On one hand I’m ready to go home and on the other hand I know I’m going to miss it. . 

I had a nice weekend, which included a great vintage and antiques fair at Ballymaloe House and a visit to lovely Kinsale on a glorious sunny day.

Next week is going to be mostly filled with exams and strangely I’m not stressed about it. I want to do well but also want to enjoy my last few days in Shanagarry. Wish me luck!

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear" - Jack Canfield.