Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Cheese and Wine

No, not a party but Wednesday lectures, an integral part of the course.

But first (loud Fanfare) "Biscuit of the Week". Alright they happened to be cakes this week with many variations on a common theme but the idea is to introduce something each week which could form part of  a menu, provide a tasty treat or give you a commodity to sell at Farmers Markets or the like. Today was based around Madeira cake, baked low in a Swiss Roll tin, and covered with different toppings - Lemon Crunch, Coffee and pecan nut icing, jam and coconut etc.before being cut into squares.
Next up the main event.

Using milk from the cows donated fresh that morning, and less than 1 hour old, we got an insight into making butter cheese and yoghurt. But first the milk had to be separated into milk and cream.

Then, using no more than a Kenwood Chef, a sieve, cold water and a pair of butter hands (pats) the cream was converted to butter and butter milk. Apparently from now on the butter accompanying bread for lunch will be rounded into perfect butter balls by designated duty students. We also learned to identify salted and unsalted  butters by marking one.

Butter is one of the new buzz foods and well packaged and provenanced butter can command a large premium over generic creamery product. Butter makers could be the new wave of artisan cheese makers, so another potential career opportunity.

Then on to cheese and yoghurt all sorts were made or at least started with Paneer, Semi Hard, Cottage and Ricotta cheeses being started or made and packaged, and Yoghurt being demonstrated before our very eyes. Once made the yoghurt was converted into tasty desserts, raitas and other commercial opportunities. Life here at Ballymaloe mainly consists of preparing us for life after Balliymaloe, and in particular ensuring that we can earn a living from food. Now that we are expert chicken jointers the Colonel's call cannot be far away.

Then off to lunch. As ever this was another learning opportunity. Whatever the rights and wrongs of its production, and I do not believe that Ballymaloe would use unethical products, Veal was at the centrepiece along with the usual range of salads, sauces and dips, breads and cheeses and fresh veg. today featuring potatoes, carrots, squash and Swiss Chard.

Then I noticed a disturbing tendency to start each paragraph with "Then", this will not be repeated in future. A quick reappraisal of the use of Then at the start of a paragraph was beaten numerically by the number of times that the Ramones began a song 1-2-3-4 (actually every song).

The Wine lecture had been looming closer and was now inevitable and unavoidable. A morning of sitting in lectures had left my buttocks feeling as if they had ridden a horse from John O'Groats to Lands End, and this afternoon would not improve the situation. Wine really is beyond me so after the first 20 minutes, and the first tasting, my head was in a similar condition to my bum.

Three and a half hours and six wines later it was finally possible to pack away the lecture notes and helpful wine book and leave. Quite why we have to know so much and have an exam on the subject I do not know. The notes handed out by the lecturer state with, I suspect, unintended irony "Don't be afraid of wine, at the end of the day it is a drink. It is a personal choice for you just as with food, art, clothes or music. Go with what you like. Your opinion on any given wine is as valuable as anyone else's". I fit is only a drink and the opinion of the individual is totally valid WHY do we have to spend 15 hours in lectures and suffer endless mindless DVDs and tastings of industrial cleanser?


  1. I repeat...I am available for wine tasting...

  2. Loving the blog, it's awesome. I think I'm enjoying it as much as you xxx

  3. don't resist the inevitable go with the flow you might just get to enjoy it!

  4. really enjoying your daily reports, Bill. Try a cushion on the seats. Dad