Day Four: Farewell to #AFairLand

The spread was laid out in front of us. Soup, dips, sauces, salads, sweet treats and more, it was a feast for the eyes. Saddened that it was my last day but enthusiastic about the new recipes I’d come away with, I was amazed at how fast the day flew.

Today my fellow Food School students and I were to do most of the work in the kitchen. We were the assemblers, the choppers, and the servers, working with the A Fair Land team to get everything out on time. It sounds like a lot of hard work but really, thanks to a large amount of prep done the day before, it was more like a smooth transition.

With the regular kitchen trio around to help and keep us on track, we busied ourselves with separate tasks with a firm eye on the clock.

I was in charge of Onigiri-inspired rice balls with a nori sauce, so to begin I toasted them all off in a pan to get lovely and crispy. The rice balls were made with sushi rice, and shaped by hand the day before. They were then rolled in sesame seeds and I fried them very simply in a large pan with a little sunflower and sesame oil.

The rather curious nori topping. Almost looks like bubbling tar (tastes nothing like that though).

The topping was key. Made using sheets of nori (seaweed), that were cooked into a paste and then seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and mirin, I topped the toasted rice balls individually and laid them out to serve. They were quite delicious if I do say so myself and had a really lovely contrast in texture with the crispy sesame seeds, soft rice centre, and gooey nori. Oh, just thinking of them has my mouth watering!

My onigiri balls!

We loaded up the mobile vendors with their goods and continued to crack on.

More of the mobile vendor food: almond cookies, buttery shortbreads... Yum.
More of the mobile vendor food: almond cookies, buttery shortbreads… Yum.

Onto the tahini dressing that was used for the pearl barley, beetroot, and courgette salad, I made a mixture of tahini, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, sea salt, and water. It’s a really gorgeous and simple dressing that’s perfect for enhancing meals.

At 1pm, and like clockwork, we headed out to serve our 30 diners. The tables were beautifully decorated with flower arrangements from Adam and there was a good community spirit to be felt.

When we finished at 2pm, it was then time for the team to relax and eat.

With a delicious spread of welcome leftovers and something new with a cucumber salad, we tucked into a fabulous lunch (completely phone-free I might add).

A tasty, homemade and healthy lunch with plenty of laughter – what more could you want?

If I could eat these deep-fried courgette flowers with sugar everyday, I would. Seriously. They’re AMAZING!

So how was the whole experience overall?

While I personally didn’t learn new techniques (only because I’ve already trained in food), I did learn a lot of new recipes and also very much enjoyed working as a team. It was certainly miles more enjoyable than just watching a demo.

I also loved being able to see IMMA from a different angle, and experience first-hand the passion that goes into such a large scale project. The vision became clearer to me as the days went on.

It’s a worthwhile experience, and if you have four days that you can spare over the next few weeks and if there’s space, I’d highly recommend it.

Many thanks to Adam, Brenda, Francesca and Niamh for being so welcoming and supportive during the four days. It was a pleasure working with them!

A Fair Land will be hosting more lunches over the next few weeks, and you can book in online here – contact them too if you have a particular interest in taking part in the Food School.

I was invited as a guest to take part in the Food School. This is a sponsored post.

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