Ballymaloe exam dishes from July

July

Ballymaloe moment of the month: The 12 weeks at Ballymaloe whizzed by and before I was even a bit prepared, the exams were upon me. There was the wine exam, in which I confused pouilly fumé and pouilly fuissé (the social embarrassment); the written exams, where I had to [...]

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Ballymaloe larder

2010 was the year I got fat.

I began the year soft yet sprightly and ended it beached on a sofa, greasy with chocolate, huffing and puffing with effort every time I heaved a limb across my rippling barrel body.

Much of the blame for this can be laid at the door [...]

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Students in kitchen 1

1 Take a car
You can manage without a car at Ballymaloe (I did), but without it your shopping choices are restricted to the school shop, which is full of ferociously expensive and highly covetable food stuffs, and the local petrol station, which isn’t.

2 Bring stationery
[...]

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The staff at Ballymaloe are annoyingly opaque about the exams, which means the students are whipped into a froth of rumour and panic by the time exam day dawns. Foamy brain melts aren’t eased when Darina answers questions like ‘exactly how much we are meant to know about the cheeses?’ with: “The gist of everything [...]

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Pork en croûte

The last day of cooking had finally rolled round and, in spite of my disastrous kitchen meltdown the week before, I skipped into the school and fussed around my work section, humming a happy tune. I’d arrived at the end of the tunnel and was bathed in warm oven lights [...]

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Week 11. The penultimate week; our last full week in the kitchens and what, after 54 days of intensive cookery tuition, am I doing? I’m splitting the soup again.

Day 71 (Monday) began so well. At 8am I was mixing a brown soda bread. At 8.30am I was feeding lumps of butter into a saturated fat-hungry [...]

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Punishment rained down on me in week 7. Hubris, complacency, not thoroughly drying plates before I put them back – all these sins and more were corrected with lashings of pain, humiliation and fear. In the end I was forced to retreat from the kitchen and spend Friday in bed, cradling my rock hard (but [...]

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Mr Bubbles is born

Thursday (day 39, 20th day cooking) was an important day. Nearly 2 weeks before I’d given birth to a sourdough baby, in the sense that I’d mixed 2oz organic strong flour with 2fl oz water, put it in a tub and left it to pick up [...]

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Kumquat marmalade done

On Tuesday I faced my fears. I looked down into a pan of boiling marmalade and I didn’t blink. I couldn’t risk it after the marmalade debacle the week before when I burnt a pan of kumquat preserve until it resembled the sort of thing that’d wash up [...]

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Carrot cake

It’s week 6 and that means exams. On Friday we’ll be put through our paces in the herb and salad leaf recognition round followed by a cooking techniques obstacle course. Consequently, the kitchens are chaos. Everyone is trying to fit in last minute technique practice on top of their designated recipes [...]

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