Saturday, 11 February 2012

Ballymaloe Day 18, 1st February - This is the Life - Wine in the morning, Cake in the afternoon

Wednesday the 1st of  February and another Theory Day. Curiously in Ireland February is considered Spring?! I am finding the theory days to be just as hard if not harder than days in the kitchen, as there is so much to concentrate on. First of all it was an early start as some of us students went to the massive greenhouses to plant some seeds. We dug some little trenches and sowed in dried peas (Ambassador is the variety) which had been saved from the previous year. The next thing they’ll grow in the same patch are broad beans but it was a bit early to sow them. En route to the green houses we saw the piglets racing towards us in a nearby field, looking for food. We fed them, they were thrilled and stuffed their faces without a snort of thanks. They are Saddlebacks I think. It was good to see them running free more to the point!

Zero table manners


Sowing the peas

My little lettuce, 3 weeks bigger

The greenhouses

Then back to the school and after some tasty Tunisian and Moroccan Orange Cake and Fermoy Cheese it was onto the wine! A Wednesday morning with a wine tasting ahead beats any Wednesday morning going to work in the office. For this wine 'lecture', yes it's a struggle here, we had Colm McCan from Ballymaloe House again and this time John McDonnell from Wine Australia. There were loads of great wines of course including an introduction to sparkling wine and the methods of making it, Riesling - very nice I have to say, and then some reds, a biodynamic Cabernet Merlot, a Tim Adams Shiraz and a Syrah from the Rhone valley, the Guigal (the winery) Côte-Rôtie (the appelalation) 'Côte Blonde et Brune' (the name). We were supposed to have another Australian Granache instead of the Syrah but it was corked! This was a good opportunity to smell some corked wine though, smells like mouldy carpet in a damp shed or something.

John in action

It was also an introdcution to biodynamic wine, planting to the phases of the moon etc and harvesting to a different calendar and treating the vines with almost homeopathic remedies. It's interesting stuff and the wine we tried is highly regarded - €60 a bottle!!

Phew, after all that excitement there was no let up. In the afternoon we had a talk from Nood Teas about tea and the teas that are sold in the supermarket, those you get in tea bags are dust grade - what does that tell you! Their company puts proper leaves in a new sort of teabag that biodegrades - it's pretty cool. Then that was a introduction into the afternoon's demonstration, Afternoon Tea!

As ever, it was a full-on production. Rory and Pam, one of the teachers made some amazing creations. There were perfect cupcakes, meringues, different sponges, cider cake, the icing of the mega-Simnel Cake, and sandwiches served in a 'treasure chest' of a loaf of bread. There was so much going on and so many ideas to take from it and so many recipes that if done well would be amazing if you had a cafe or catering business or something. Really it was another brilliant day and we are so lucky to be exposed to this stuff day in day out, even if it is a bit exhausting!

Rory & Pam

Perfect Cupcakes

Better than the Savoy!

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