Friday, 3 December 2010

Vietnam and the big thaw

The last day of the last full week at Ballymaloe. There's a strange feeling about the place, part panic at the thought of next week's exams, part I want to go home, part I want to stay here for ever. I guess that this is the same for every course and I am certain that ours is no different to the hundred plus that have gone before.

A bitterly cold night - by Shanagarry standards as we live in our own micro climate- had deterred some of the early morning walkers but at 6:55 as the espresso coursed through my veins in a chemical kick start and a cafetiere brewed on the side we had visitors. It was a colleagues birthday and we had arranged with his walking partner to invite him in for a birthday boost. He later reported that the second half of the walk was completed in record time due mainly to the injection of rocket fuel.

Still there was work to be done and by 7:30 I was on my way to school as a bright dawn lit up the sky below the cloud base.

My tasks today Vietnamese Spring rolls and Chocolate Ice Cream. The day began badly. I started with the dipping sauce for the Spring Rolls. A volatile mix of Fish Sauce, Garlic, Chillis and sugar it was knocked up and tasted. If the Americans had my sauce instead of Napalm, today Big Macs would be the national dish of the noble People's Republic. Fortunately as history relates "the outcome of any war is determined by the will of the people not by one or two new fangled weapons" ( Chairman Mao). Then the sauce was knocked over!!

The similarity to Napalm was reinforced as it began to eat into the work surface at a rate of knots. Handiwork with a cloth restored the situation and the only loss was that of time and my dignity. The second time around the sauce behaved and the lid of the jar tightened properly ensuring that no further spillages would occur.

On then to the ice cream. This was a mousse based confection which involved heating water and sugar to the thread stage, adding it to egg yolks whipped light and fluffy, folding in melted chocolate, adding whipped cream and freezing. This worked well and we did not have to make the chocolate cups to put the ice cream in - just as well as I have done this every Friday for the last three weeks.

Back to the Spring rolls. A julienne of cucumber and carrot was piled on a bed of rice noodles and wrapped in a Vietnamese Spring Roll wrapper.

These are made from rice paper, dipped in water to make them pliable and partially transparent. The actual rolls are eaten cold or in this case raw. Once the roll had reached half way four prawns were carefully placed on top of the roll with a Coriander leaf in the middle and the roll then finished. Due to the transparency you can see the prawns and leaf through the roll and they are quite spectacular. They are also time consuming and finicky but well worth doing if only to wow your guests. With a cunning plating they were ready for tasting. Straight 6.

I have not bothered with the photos of chocolate because you have seen similar before.

At lunchtime it rained, falling on icy surfaces with predictable results. "The car park is very slippy" announced Darina, "It's Feckin' Lethal" commented a student who had just been there. Plans for an evening in Ballycotton were abandoned like the cars which failed to make it up the slight hill into the aforementioned village.

Demo saw the return of Rory in strangely humanitarian mood. He explained how the Lobsters would be gently placed into a pan and slowly heated until they went into a coma at 40degrees - whilst he could still put his hand into the water - and would "slip away at 50.

Whilst they slipped unaware into a new state he demonstrated some amazing cakes, scallops and Lamb Tagine - yes, the L word again. A very good recipe for Romanesco ( the green architectural Italian Cauliflower) and a less successful one - in my opinion for Chicory.

But Rory would not be the chef he is without a display of swordsmanship which would have made him a tricky opponent in a duel. O'Connell 9 Challengers 0. O'Connell through to Europe where he will face Alfonso Jaccarino..

The Lobster, now demonstrating its change of state by a change of colour from blacky-blue to deep red, was brought to the chopping board and deftly bisected.

What a great way to end the week with fresh Lobster in your tasting. Sadly we will not be cooking these on Monday, and even the Scallops that we will are currently stuck in West Cork by the weather. I just hope for a thaw before I cook John Dory for my exam on Wednesday.

Incidentally Rory has a great Blog on Blogspot with some stunning recipes and great comment by the man himself.

Oh well, one week to go, this time next week the blog will be delayed as we have our end of course party!!!

1 comment:

  1. You needn't bother trying to wow me with these concoctions! unless of course you can replace the prawns with cheese and tomato! there's an idea for our most traditional course on NYE
    and What's this about a party?