Saturday, 4 December 2010

Super Value in Village Shops

The last weekend of my stay at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Next Friday we have the written exams and the Farewell Dinner, on Saturday at 11 we have a farewell coffee and that's it. Except it isn't. For all of us this course has been a life changing event and the memories and friendships will stay with us forever. Ballymaloe doesn't let students go either, you become part of a community, a special group of people joined by desires and experiences, which encompasses students and staff alike.

But that is next week and I still have one more cooking session, two Demonstrations and a practical and three written exams next week. So how to fill the final weekend. DIFFERENTLY!!!! So I ironed today and commenced a little filing some 24 hours early. Radically shocked by this huge innovation I did have to sit and recover over coffee whilst debating the state of the roads and paths and doing the complex equations of (need for Milk) x (viscosity index of local footpaths) / desire to keep all limbs intact.

Yesterdays thaw had frozen overnight leaving most surfaces glassy and the sight of pedestrians and vehicles pirouetting delicately or executing triple toe sulkos with a cross buttock and press persuaded me to remain in until calcium deficiency caused demonstrable osteoporosis or it warmed up and melted out. An ideal opportunity to file and cross reference. Except I suddenly remembered that I had always intended to carry out an audit of the number of chimneys visible from the lounge and compare it with those visible from my room thus producing a multi level analysis of heating habits on a small rural housing development. With global Armageddon predicted this could be vital research. Then I needed to check the grout in the shower for signs of shrinkage, the tumble dryer filter needed cleaning, my pens placing in alphabetical order by name of sponsor, my socks replacing four square in the drawer etc etc etc.

Before I knew it it was 2 and one of my housemates said that she would try to get to Midleton but, as she did not really drive in icy conditions, she would be grateful for some company. Yay Cinderella would go to the ball!!

It had improved vastly when we left though Swan Lake was still frozen solid and bizarrely was covered in wading birds walking on the ice with the usual ducks and swans nowhere to be seen.

On we travelled to Hurley's Supervalu possibly the finest shopping emporium in Midleton and very recently winner of the all Ireland award for cleanliness food hygiene and safety.
For those of you who don't know Supervalu is a federation of independent supermarkets. Each is locally owned and run and committed to local produce. They often win Supermarket of the year for their range  of foods, commitment to fairtrade and sustainability and support for local producers and communities. I like shopping in any of them.

So in we walked and things were different where was the fruit and veg section usually found just inside the door?

was it further down where bread should be?

and why was there a huge crowd milling around just where I wanted to go? The answer soon arrived as a glass of Irish Coffee was thrust into my hand, though wine or filter coffee were available had I preferred, and I was steered towards a table groaning under the weight of bruschetta with pate, smoked salmon on brown bread, salmon and cucumber sandwiches and hot sausages. "Welcome to the Annual Customer Christmas Party" announced the Manager "Our way of saying thank you to all our customers".

Shopping with a warming drink and a few tasty treats inside you is more fun than the usual way and I was so swept away by seasonal bonhomie that I bought an extra pack of butter- entirely forgetting that I now had seven days to consume 1kilo of butter. But hey, it's Ballymaloe and the three main food groups are Butter, Cream and Brown Sugar (all in moderation I hasten to add), so no real problem there.

By the time that we left the store they had forgotten that we had been in so, on my way to return the trolley and reclaim my € coin I thanked the Assistant Manager profusely as I accepted his gift of an Irish Coffee and a free run of the buffet trough.

Darkness was falling so we left to return home and refrigerate our purchases but on the way back we popped into the Village Greengrocer in Castlemartyr. To call it a mere Greengrocer is to suggest that Harrods is a corner shop. You know that the produce has to be good when it is delivered daily to Ballymaloe. And yes it is a village Greengrocer

But it is so much more think Deli, think the best of local, think cafe, think I must call in next time I am passing through.

So there you have it. The last Saturday passed as a day of retail and foodie thinking. Next Saturday it's dinner at Ballymaloe House for your (by then) former student of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill congrats on great blog, just discovered it and was laughing out loudly more then once you are a very talented writer and I'm sure your cooking is the same level. Have a nice Sunday Brigitte