Yes, you heard right. Mibuna, Mizuna and Pennywort. And no I haven’t cracked it and gone completely mad. Nor are these the names of cats, leprechauns or some locals I met down at the pub.
These are in fact 3 of the salad leaves which are grown here at Ballymaloe in the glasshouse, picked every morning and then eaten as part of our daily green salad.
They’re also 3 of the salad leaves we need to memorise ahead of Friday, our ‘Salad and Herb Recognition’ exam. From the plants that are currently in season, on Friday we’ll get given 10 herbs and 10 salad leaves and asked to identify them. For the herbs, we also need to give 2 recipes they feature in.
And these aren’t just your regular greens. Isn’t it amazing that there could be over 20 salad leaves grown here most of which I hadn’t heard of? And I thought I knew salad! It’s only now I’ve come to realise I’ve had a rather limited repertoire. I probably know a handful… spinach, rocket, iceberg, gem, cos… Certainly these little ones pictured, plus others like Salad Burnett, Tatsoi, Wood Sorrel and Wintercress have been all new names and tastes.
Ballymaloe salads are like no other salads I’ve eaten. Fresh, peppery and layered with different green textures and flavours. Whereas so many other restaurants will serve any bit of greenery (and often from a bag), here care is taken with every leaf. It’s not just salad. It’s another Ballymaloe touch that emphasises the fresh, local and ‘everything on the plate must be delicious’ mantra that Darina is always talking about.
On early morning salad duties (such as the one I had this morning at 07.30am and which will come around a couple of times in our 12 weeks) we head into the greenhouse to pick the daily salad leaves. Given our exam is on Friday it was pretty well timed. (Although getting up as Storm Imogen raged outside was less than enticing). I got up close and personal with wild rocket, salad rocket, mustard greens (which are actually green and red) chard and tatsoi.
Rows after rows of different types of greens are planted and then picked each day
Let’s just hope come Friday I can actually remember them all.
Oh and finally I can’t possibly not mention THE MOST DELICIOUS tagine that was cooked today. Lamb with dates. This picture nowhere near does it justice but it’s officially rocketed its way to the top of the favourites list!
And then Rory was doing demo today and among a whole menu of delicious things including all good things with choux pastry, a total standout for me were these:
Homemade raspberry marshmallows! Aren’t they so pretty? Cannot wait for lunch tomorrow already.