Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Zen and the art of Christmas Tree Mechanics

Ignorance they say is bliss, so with the Wine exam looming I achieved a state of total zen like tranquility. Not so some of my housemates who had broken nights and possibly for one a sleepless night. I slept like a baby till 6:10 and decided that the extra 20 minutes until the alarm were not worth it so into the shower. This had an unfortunate knock on effect. Little did I realise that the person in the next room had forgotten their watch after a weekend at home and was relying on my getting up and moving around to wake them. Hence, whilst I was still luxuriating in the steamy confines of the bathroom I heard them leave their room and head downstairs. Joining them just after 6:30 I heard about the movements of the previous night and the innumerable cups of coffee and tea that had been drunk in the quest for Wine knowledge.

By 7:55 we were all in school dressed in whites and waiting for the 8am exam. 22 minutes to answer 100 multiple choice questions later I was out. To an extent I surprised myself with the knowledge that I had accrued over the series of lectures but not excessively hopeful of achieving the 60% pass mark. If you do not like wine there is a barrier to totally understanding it. Still, I had given it my best shot and went off to the Dining room for a cup of coffee finding other students who took less time than me already in residence.

From there it was in to Demo at 9:15 for the Christmas Demonstration. OK it was only December 1st but there would be no more Wednesday Lectures or Demos so now was as good as any time for it. Darina did not practice swordsmanship on any innocent creatures today but took revenge on a Turkey and a Goose by introducing large quantities of stuffing into their recently vacated body cavities.

Following this we saw Almond Paste - NB not commercial marzipan - being applied to a Christmas Cake before it was toasted golden in a hot oven. The resultant toasty covering and the comparative youth of the cake made for a truly impressive taste and an interesting combination of textures.

A range of mince pies and other mincemeat products were demonstrated and some consumed still hot though the star of the show was the Chocolate Christmas Tree. Melted Chocolate is spread into crosses of diminishing size and cooled. Once cool they are assembled in layers, largest to smallest, and secured in place by a drop of melted chocolate. Dressed with Icing Sugar to replicate snow and garnished with Holly Leaves and small Christmas Figurines they formed an impressive and edible centrepiece for any Christmas table or display.

Strangely lunch today was of the Christmas variety. Both Goose and Turkey were succulent and tasty and the traditional vegetables well seasoned and cooked. Made a change from Lamb and, with a choice of Pumpkin or Mussel Soup, I opted for Cinderella's Carriage and enjoyed lunch.

The afternoon Demo concentrated on Student Requests. One housemate was desolate that his "How to debone a Kudu" had not made the shortlist but was cheered by Baked Alaska, nice Brownies, Brown Bread Ice Cream and Eggs Benedict. I particularly enjoyed watching and tasting the Paella which was cooked to a family recipe and looked and tasted spectacular.

Finally some 9 and a half hours after we left for school we were free to come home.

When do we get the results of the exam? Who knows. We do not get our final results until February and do not know whether the results of Wine are included in those or separate as there is a sponsored prize for the person who comes top. Oh well, what would I do with a bottle of Bollinger and a case of wine?

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