Ballymaloe Day 71: Dropping like flies

If there were awards for snail-speed enthusiasts, I’d be getting a gold medal. My day was a mixture of being slow and steady and ultimately it wasn’t a good one.

Getting up this morning, like most Mondays, was a bit of an effort and heading back into the kitchen with impending exams and more study ahead kept sticking in the mind.

Today I had but a few things to cook, and was planning to get to work on some techniques during the morning’s cooking.

In a nutshell, common sense was not on my side and I struggled in a lot of things. It’s very much a “I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it” situation.

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(My white yeast rolls)

The problem was, was that even though I finally managed to produce something, I wasn’t truly happy with the outcome.

The only thing I was satisfied with was that I cooked my tuna properly and that it was wonderfully raw in the centre.

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(My pan-seared tuna with tapenade and caponata)

These types of days happen in Ballymaloe and sometimes it can be such an effort to try and get through them. It can feel like the world is crumbling in on you, but sometimes it can just be a breath of fresh air that can give you energy again.

Feeling slightly down, my brain remained frazzled throughout the day and my body felt weak. It turns out that a lot of people are out at the moment with flu-like system so the chances are that I may start to get woozy.

As a treat this evening we got to taste a large selection of olive oils, olives and balsamic vinegar. Probably as complex as wine, it’s amazing the variety of flavours that you can get from a simple olive and see the difference in price. We even got to taste a special balsamic vinegar that has been again for over 30 years.

Darina pointed out that a fantastic present for a person who loves food could be an excellent olive oil, and it would last longer than wine (though if anyone’s listening, I would still appreciate a nice bottle of vino!)

Back in the house for the evening, the hinges in my legs are stiff and my arms are heavy. I think I’ll read a bit and then head to bed. Fingers crossed tomorrow will be a brighter and better day…

As a complete aside, delighted to have found out that I made the final shortlist for the RaboTweeties 2014! I’m nominated alongside some fantastic journalists and friends.

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Some random things I’ve learned:

  • It’s thought that the first olive groves were cultivated around 1000BC.
  • Olive trees can live well over 200 years.
  • Green olives produce a bitter oil and overripe olives produce rancid oil.
  • Extra Virgin and Virgin olive oil cannot contain refined oil. Oils labelled as Pure olive oil or simply Olive Oil are usually a blend of refined and Virgin or Extra Virgin oil.
  • To retain maximum flavour of your olive oil store it away from direct sunlight, under 21 degrees Celsius – even in a cool cupboard.
  • If the oil is stored in the fridge or a very cold place it’ll probably become cloudy – it this happens just let it come back to room temperature and the cloudiness should disappear.
  • Contrary to what a lot of people think, olive oil can be heated to 210 degrees celsius so it is excellent for frying or sautéing
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