Ballymaloe Day 46: “It’s all about the wobble, not the bass”

The Rioja slid across my tongue and left a tingling sensation around my cheeks. With hints of spice capturing the senses, it was a perfect way to finish a long day!

Today was very much about burgers, but since they were something that I could do close to serving, I decided that it was a perfect day to do something extra.

Apart from my assigned dishes, I was also required to do any white bread of my choosing, and so I did a spotted dog which is very similar to what my Grandad used to make.

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On a roll, I also lashed out half a batch of sweet scones for guests who were to arrive at the cookery school.

I’ve been accidentally avoiding glazed carrots for a number of weeks now, so even though I was pushed for time I ferociously peeled, chopped and shot them into a pan.

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(Me showcasing some glorious pork caul)

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(My beef burger with mushroom a la creme, crispy bacon with frites)

Happy with my burger ensemble, I cleaned up and headed into the dining room for helpings of both meat and cheese!

Rachel was back in demo with us today, and assisted by Pat and Gary she demonstrated various duck dishes as well as chocolate nibbles and panna cotta.

“It’s all about the wobble”, Gary mused while plating up the panna cotta, “not the bass!”

Like I mentioned before, at the end of demo we get to taste each dish, and I completely fell in love with the braised Jerusalem artichokes.

By the way, to the person who left some of the leg of duck in the tray, ready to go into the stock bucket – shame on you! I delightfully snatched it up and nibbled it with glee.

As a special treat, Colm McCan invited the Irish Examiner’s wine writer, Leslie Williams in to give us a quick lesson in French Oak aged wine vs American Oak aged wine.

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“There’s a second plant involved in wine”, Leslie announced, “and that’s oak”.

We’re incredibly lucky because Leslie had organised that we would taste wine from the vineyard that were at various stages before being bottled.

Armed with our Riedel glasses, we got to taste the Beronia Rioja at the French oak stage (scrumptious and tingly), American oak stage (so-so), the blend of the two (lovely and smooth), and finally the finished product, which was truly delicious.

It was a great opportunity and we were the first 12-week students and the second group in Ireland to taste wines like this – for those who didn’t get to make it, sorry to say but you guys missed out!

Since Alfred has fast become the favourite child (sorry Brienne, I promise to turn you tomorrow), I’m looking forward to making him into a sourdough loaf tomorrow.

Times and topics for our final written exams (five and a half hours), were posted on the noticeboard today so I’m cracking away at studying. Bonne nuit!

Some random things I learned today:

  • Animals that have feathers are hung from the neck, whereas animals with fur are hung by the ankles.
  • There’s no need to butter the skin of a goose of a duck before it goes in for roasting because it has enough fat on it to crisp it up.
  • A panna cotta means cooked cream and when making one, the end result should have a good wobble. You should cut through it easily with a fork with no chewing!
  • Good cure for a hangover? Anything with potassium, so bananas are great.
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