Food neither begins in the kitchen nor ends in the dining room. There is a whole life before hand and, hopefully, a lifetime memory after. Certainly to provide the latter it is essential to know the whole history of the former.
Put another way a great cook with poor ingredients will only produce mediocre food. Quality seasonal produce is the key so on our first day off the great sourcing safari began.
For many the first stop was Midleton Farmers Market, just 12 kilometers, away where two of our colleagues were helping out on the Ballymaloe stall, 7o'clock starts notwithstanding. By the crack of 9 when we arrived the market was in full swing with queues forming at the fresh fish counter
and groaning stands of the freshest organic vegetables were subject to the kind of scrutiny normally reserved for Pakistan bowlers foot fall.
Amongst all this action we prioritised fresh espresso followed by organic breakfast rolls - well we had to see whether pork products reacted well to fresh crusty baguettes!
Following this it was a visit to Arbutus Bakery where the precise provenance of our chosen sourdough - 20 hour slow proving wrapped in linen - was explained and we were invited to do a night shift in the bakery!
Well you can't have bread without cheese so on to the cheese people where after deep discussion of provenance, vegetable v animal rennet and raw versus pasteurised milk, we settled on a cheese from Dingle which contains dillisk ( seaweed to you) and which had an almost emmental texture. Maybe we found one that not even Darina Queen of Cheeses has tried!
Bread and cheese has become almost the accepted evening meal. Well we have lunch, cooked by us and quality approved by the teachers then, around five, a tasting of up to eleven dishes from the Demo. Unsurprisingly evening meals are simple.. However man does not live by bread alone (even accompanied by great cheeses) so we looked for interesting alternatives to the lactic rush and came up with three interesting alternatives, an organic tapenade, a second made with added dillisk - laver spread almost - and a delicate baked salmon and crab marie rose. Tonight's snack looks interesting. The latter we found on Frank Hederman's smokehouse stall.
Then on to Cork City and the English Market
Nearly overwhelmed by the huge variety and quality of the assorted ingredients a restorative coffee was needed. An espresso with a kick like a rhino on speed was provided by a stall holder and as my body got the kind of jolt that normally results from touching the live rail my mind followed and I was able to purchase some of the aforementioned jump juice. Two cups and those early morning kitchens will not know what has hit them!!
Much staring at meat (and cheese, fish, chicken, veg, bakery etc) later we pulled ourselves away and decided to go to Ballycotton to search for lunch. Somehow we never actually made lunch though we did visit Ballycotton
Then back to the cottage via Ballymaloe House where some additional implements were purchased from the shop and we tried the food in the Cafe at the End of the Shop. We approved.
Sunday being a day of rest probably means a filing mountain followed by writing up the work plan for Monday morning and then a return to the groves of academe. Still we chose to do it and in an intensive way. If learning is exponential but the brain's capacity diminishes with age I shall have to start abandoning some of my huge range of gratuitous trivia to make room for the new.