Monday, 25 October 2010

I don't like Mondays

Bank Holiday Monday in Ireland, the last before Christmas, but for students at Ballymaloe - another day of graft.

School was closed so no cooking or Demo but the first exams loom on Friday.  

Woke on schedule despite having had the latest night since I arrived. Quick trip to the pub where of course I limited myself to non-alcoholic libations and watched the mesmeric undulations and gyrations of the local (German) mushroom forager to some music which started well. Sadly this did not last and disco pap was polluting the Ballycotton air with the intensity of a Hungarian chemical spill. A couple of students were there but seemed to share my own views about the music. Sometimes the smoking ban has unexpected benefits like leaving the scene of the crime. Anyway, to bed perchance to dream – sadly about being pursued by a huge pile of paper and four ring binders.
You will recall that I spent much of Sunday finding inventive ways to avoid the filing that accumulates over the course of a week, so Monday was to be filing day. However, first there were the matters of a few more cunning plans to postpone the evil moment.
 I still had ironing to do so, coffee, shower, more coffee then into the laundry room. Apparently we have to look impeccable for the exam so a crisp set of whites was not only a priority but essential. As ever I warmed up on some shirts in ascending order of smartness to “get my eye in”.
Even this was far from simple. Twice the iron went cold, twice I discovered that this was because the fuses had tripped (the second time was less of a surprise and remedied much quicker). Four shirts, two sets of whites 30 minutes – unlikely to break any records, but even so only 8:30.

A quick check of the techniques likely to come up in the exam revealed Poached Eggs. My past record with poached eggs has included one memorable failure – over poached by about 10 seconds. Now this would not have mattered normally, but this was with tiny Quail eggs in the national final of Britain’s Best Dish, and they cost me up to £3,333 each. Failure on Friday would be even worse. Hmmm.....  Poached Eggs? that’s breakfast as well.
Off to the kitchen, pan on, boiling water swirling in a perfect vortex, organic egg slipped gently into the simmering liquid, toast on and buttered, egg removed and drained before plating. That will do.
A further cup of coffee managed only to push the time to 9:30 and the filing was still waiting.

Contemplating the filing

But, I had used the last of the bread. Clearly replenishment was needed so a trip to the local filling station and shop was the option. Bravely refusing offers of lifts, I picked up a rucksack and set off. Sadly even at my pace (and including a little browsing in the shop) I was back by just after 10. More coffee needed to steel the nerves but it lay there like a huge black shadow overhanging my very existence. Now or never, I thought, and though the latter was highly attractive, the possibility of searching feverishly for  a recipe or not being able to identify the subtle differences between a Fino and Manzanilla Sherry was too much to bear.
Amazingly it took only 45 minutes and meant that from12 the day was mine.
Except that I still had techniques to practice, slicing and dicing, sweating onions, making paper piping bags, presenting and pouring wine. Lunch was a segmented orange - using an exam technique – and, for entertainment, I put together two perfect paper piping bags.

The Skelligs?  No, paper piping bags
As the weather turn a little cooler and damper a good fire will be comforting of an evening so I laid one for the return of our housemates.

Tea will consist of sausage sandwiches with lots of lovely sweated onions as another technique gets cleared then just the Order of Work to do.
Tomorrow is another day: cooking, Demo then an extra jointing and filleting class just to improve our chances. Life back to normal after the jollities of the holliers.

1 comment: