Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ballymaloe Day 8, 18th January - Cheese & Winefest

The second theory day for us here at Ballymaloe, today was a great combination of cheese making and general dairy goings-on and wine, wine, wine. But first a bit of actual cooking, Darina made the biscuit of the week, Lemon Drizzle Squares which were dead easy, just put everything in a food processor and then rolled the mixture into a swiss roll tin. After baking you can top them with lemon icing or other variations such as coffee and pecans, chocolate, candied peel etc etc.

The main focus of the morning though was how to make Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Cheeses, presented by Eddie O'Neill a Dairy Artisan Food Specialist from Teagasc's (can't pronounce that yet) Moorepark Research Centre. He knows all about making dairy products and has helped many artisan producers over the years. Here at the school we have fresh unpasteurised milk from the cows (Jersey and Fresian) and they separate the milk and cream every morning after milking. We were shown how to make butter from the cream (as I did yesterday), and then on to the other dairy products, yoghurt, soft yoghurt cheese (labneh, great with middle eastern dishes), buttermilk, cottage cheese and a simple semi-hard gouda type cheese.

 Separating the milk into cream (lighter) and milk (heavier - I think)

Above: cutting the curds and whey

There is plenty of science involved which I couldn't begin to get into right now but it's fascinating to see the alchemy that turns one liquid into so many different things. Through heating to a certain temperature for a certain time and adding pectin the curds and whey begin to separate and then you can make cheese. We are making some cheese with Tim on Friday so more on that then!

A lot of the cheeses need to be drained through muslin as part of the process, including Coeur a la Creme. The homemade cottage cheese is sweetened and drained overnight in heart shaped moulds and served with berries and coulis. It would be perfect for a summer wedding:

Then, after lunch, it was time for the first of the wine lectures from Colm McCan, the award-winning Sommelier at Ballymaloe House and today Peter Corr of Febvre Wine Merchants who also did the 12 week course a few years ago. Wednesday afternoon and instead of being in the office I was standing outside with a view of the sea practicing spitting out wine, good times! We practiced with water first, then moved onto the hard stuff, or so I thought... Our first wine was an alcohol-free one, made from Muscat grapes. Then we tried a Chablis, a Chardonnay, (the same grape as Chablis is made Chardonnay grapes!). Next was two Sauvignon Blancs, and then the reds, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All were a mixture of 'old' and 'new' world wines so we could compare the two. It was all a new experience for me as I know very little about wine despite a good few years of drinking it! Lastly was a dessert wine they serve at The Fat Duck Clos Uroulat Jurancon 2010, it was delicious, sweet but not too sweet, some scidity, minerally but rounded it was ace! I could have had several more glasses! No surprise here but I didn't use the spittoon!

Tomorrow more milkmaid exploits as I am at dawn to milk the cows!

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