Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tapas 101 and the Australian Wine Industry

An early morning brush up on techniques, not cooking but the ironing after a third party blueberry fool related incident yesterday required an urgent washing of the whites. This time the power remained constant and by 7am I was ready to go, or at least I would have been had an early start been demanded. Today however was lecture day and a gentle stroll up to the school saw me jostling with the early coffee crowd in Kitchen3.

From there to Demo and the Cheddar variety of cheese took centre stage with an explanation of the Cheddaring process and some fine examples to taste including Hafod, Montgomery and Keen's. The  a short demonstration and explanation of the cheddars produced in Blaenafon by Sue Fiander-Woodhouse again with cheeses for tasting. The presenter of this short insert was articulate and passionate but I missed his name as my mind was elsewhere.

Now how many people start the day with a glass of sparkling wine before 10am and the promise of another four glasses before lunch? If you are a Ballymaloe student you do. John Mc Donnell the Irish head of Wine spoke about the range of Wines coming from the biggest island in the world.

We tried the sparkling and two whites and two reds. Personally I much prefer white wine to red, though I suppose that is because I have a very unsophisticated palate, the whites were pleasant and the reds though stronger also would have a look in at home. I had not realised that Pernod Ricard, Fosters and Constellation dominated Australian wine production but thanks to John I now have a much better understanding of the producers who provide 4% of world wine and have the biggest market share in both Ireland and the UK. John also donated a wine DvD to every student which will come in very handy for revision purposes and future reference.  An informative speaker John was also entertaining, a trait not always shared amongst experts in their subject. A very good morning.

No random passing troubadors were within range of Ballymaloe today so lunch was served sans musique. Lamb dominated the menu again but there was also beef!! I was so pleased that I had to photograph it.

The afternoon was the Tapas demonstration with tapas in all of its many forms demonstrated by Darina and Rory. I had not realised that there were eight categories of tapas from small pieces on cocktail sticks (Pincho) to Cazuelitas (tapa in little pottery dishes) as well as fritos ( fried). Tasting proved epic with a range of tastes from fried peppers (some volcanically hot and impossible to pick out and avoid) to chickpea stew, Jambon Iberico, salt cod two ways, tortillas etc. The easiest way to describe them would be to post the photos which also include Darina's response to Rory dismembering small animals by taking a sword to an innocent Ham. Unfortunately the web speed is down yet again and I cannot post them.

Finally we returned to Sherry- one couple from Luxemburg joined us for the whole demo just for the Sherry! Tonight there were two offerings a Lustau Puerto Fino a bone dry elegant wine and a very rare 30 year old Del Duque Amontillado. The rarity coming from the fact that the Solera system means constant blending and very few single vintages exist. Both were very pleasant and this under rated wine deserves a wider appreciation and to be served chilled in proper glasses not those minute efforts in which it usually appears. Tomorrow a visiting Italian producer will appear at lunchtime and another tasting beckons. If it is as good as today's offerings I will enjoy.

1 comment: