Herb and practical exams are afoot. Thankfully they went GRAND! Not fab but grand.
On Monday we got the most fab scallops in from Ballycotton. I had to make this gorgy simple salad with blood red oranges, salad greens and a beurre blanc sauce over the seared scallop. I segmented like a million oranges in prep for the exam on Friday. Zero craic. However, we did make this epic orange jelly with a mint sauce. Chilled with a blob of ‘softly whipped cream’ as Darnia likes to say about EVERY SWEET THING EVER MADE. Beautiful!
Tuesday was the best day ever. I mean EVER. Making pasta with the fabbest London gal was the funniest day in Ballymaloe. Absolutely loved every minute of learning to shape the dough. Props to Debbie for keeping sane through our cackles and selfies. The pasta is a basic recipe dressed with herb butter, fresh parsley and olive oil… bellisimo! (or something else Italian).
Up at the crack of dawn (literally) to get a crash course in herbs and salad leaves for our recognition exam on Friday. Hauly (the gardener) gave us a few teasers and tips for what we should focus on. Legend.
‘Wine Wednesday’ was back with a vengeance. Colm brought us wines for each part of a meal. Total of 7 this week. The wines were from France, which we have learned so much about where each wine hails from in each region of France and what grape variety is grown eg. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvigon are grape varieties grown in Bordeaux.
When Colm was chatting about Champagne (Crystal in particular) he mentioned how Jay Z and “The Boys” made it mainstream and popular. Right. “The Boys” reference was simply amazing. Also fun fact… Jay Z and Bey stayed in Ballymaloe House. Random enough. I did a ‘stage’ or work experience in Ballymaloe House on Valentines night which was pretty cool to see such a traditional kitchen, in an old house run so effectively. I got to help Scott on starters and replenish a shaved cucumber, white wine vinegar and dill accompaniment to a crab dish. My first time actually touching food during a real service and seasoning it. I went to use the sugar because it wasn’t labelled and it was finely grated. Great first move. Michelin star comin’ my way any day now.
On Thursday my mind was sightly fogged by the thought of our exam on Friday. In the morning’s cook I made a Goan broth with mussels (spicy and garlicy) and profiteroles with creme patisserie, chantilly cream and chocolate sauce. I had a good week in the kitchen. Thanks for the prayers. However, my portion size was too large for my profiteroles. What would I serve in a restaurant vs what I serve in real life. This is the question. The creme patisserie is deliciously creamy with a hint of vanilla that was infused into the milk. How could I not give an entire chocolate covered cake stand full? WELL?!
Exam wise I spent most of Thursday with the gang calling out herbs and trying to think of recipes to pair them with. I ran through some techniques that might come up to prepare in case I got something odd that I’m not used to.
Exam day. I was the last batch called into the kitchen. FAB. Or not. I heard good and bad tales as people left the kitchen in a sweat. This didn’t help a huge amount. Rachel Allen was my examiner and she honestly kept me super calm and relaxed. Such a fab woman! I was asked to chop and sweat an onion, make a paper pining bag and melt chocolate and pipe it into a design. Not bad at all. Happy days. I now await my results 😦