The smell of freshly cooked fish wafted towards me and once again I was delighted that I had managed to nab myself a front row seat.
Our morning’s cooking went well, and Daniel and I did our best to keep on time. Sally is our teacher this week, and like all the Ballymaloe teachers, she knows her stuff.
After a few amusing struggles with the piping bag (seriously, they’re my worst enemy), I pulled a shepherd’s pie, garlic butter and white soda bread together. I missed out on making glazed carrots today yet again, so I really need to try and factor them into my order of work better.
Shovelling moussaka, pie and delicious Ballymaloe salad into my mouth for lunch, I was very much looking forward to the demo ahead.
Today was all about Mexican food, fish and sorbets and I was gawking at the mackerel like a hungry shark.
Mackerel is such an underrated fish and it shouldn’t be. It’s so cheap to buy and simply pan-grilled or poached, it can make for an unbelievable meal. When I spent time in Cap d’Agde in the south of France, we’d get fresh mackerel and they’d cook it in the outside barbecue. Magnifique.
By the way! Speaking of demo; chair nabbing is an art. By the time you’re finished lunch all the front section seats are taken and you’ve to make do with the back.
Since Darina seems to be still in Boston (according to Twitter), her charismatic brother Rory O’Connell was taking us for demo. Rory, Darina and Rachel are our lecturers in food and it’s thoroughly enjoyable each session despite the fact that they all have different teaching methods.
“Shall we all stand up for a minute?” he asked us halfway through the demo. You may remember that he did this before in an attempt to zap energy into us, and this method again proved very successful. Stretching our limbs to the sky we shook out all the cobwebs and plonked ourselves back down, basking in the smells of fresh food.
Before long Rory was producing some amazing dishes, including a rather sinister-looking black currant leaf sorbet that looked like a magic eight ball *he really summed up how it looked perfectly like this: “have some supper darling, before I stab you”).
(Rory plating up the rather evil looking sorbet on the left! Photo courtesy of Daniel Callen)
Last night I felt the gurgle running up my throat. It was like a slow murmur waiting for the right moment to shine.
So here I am, kitted out in my pyjamas with a glass of hot lemon juice trying to push the nastiness of a looming cold out of my system.
Annoyingly, I decided to miss this evening’s lesson on sourdough with Tim Allen to take some time out to recover – but hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back in tip-top form.
Wednesdays are theory days so by tomorrow I’ll be laden with all sorts of information (you should see my filing system!)
Some random things I learned today:
- The key to making scones is the heaped teaspoons of baking powder. If you’re unsure of what a heaped teaspoon is, Rory piled baking powder onto his spoon and described it as looking like “Alpine skis” – wonderfully white and mountainesque!
- Mackerel is pelagic, so basically what that means is all it does is in life is move and eat. The word “mackerel” comes from the Old French “maquerel”, meaning a pimp – “probably down to its flashy appearance”, remarks Rory!
- Avocados are like mangoes, you need to think ahead a few days to make sure they’ll be ripe in time.
- Funnily enough, the colour of a pineapple isn’t actually reflective of how ripe it is. Smell it instead and check out its leaves. If you poke the bottom of the pineapple it should give way, a bit like the mango-thumbprint test.