Well folks, week 7 may have featured the odd wobble, but overall it was a great putting-it-all-in-perspective week. 7 weeks down and 5 wonderful weeks to look forward to.
I’ve had a recharging the batteries weekend (read sourdough making, eating, and catching up on sleep, exercise and correspondence) and now feel ready for whatever the week is to bring.
Excitingly though, yesterday I also spend a full day working in the Ballymaloe House kitchens. Unlike last Sunday where I was lucky enough to be a guest, this time I was seeing restaurant service from the other side.
Saturday morning saw me arriving at the kitchens in my whites and clutching my knive set and wondering quite why I’d so enthusiastically signed up to the 06.30am shift on one of my precious weekends. However, I was soon swept up into the folds of the warm and buzzing kitchen.
Jason, one of the Head Chefs was my main point of contact for the day. He showed me around the kitchen and talked me through the day’s menu until the sleepy Saturday guests woke up and headed down for breakfast. While service was in full swing I got stuck into veg prep, scrubbing muscles, filleting 5 hake and separating eggs for the lunch and dinner services.
And it was fun! I really, really enjoyed it. It was just so interesting to be in there seeing and hearing it all come together in a humming rhythm to deliver made-to-order full Irish breakfasts, hot lunches and specifically requested afternoon teas to the guests. It really is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. An orchestra playing, each section playing their part, listening to the other sections and co-ordinating their performance under the guidance of the conductor.
During my shift (they kindly kept me very well fed and watered) I met a lot of the staff, both from front and back of house. Some of their employees have been working in the kitchens or as service staff for over 20 years! It is amazing the loyal employees they have.
Anyway, as enjoyable as it was it was also very enjoyable to finish up and head back to Mrs Walsh’s. That night Erin, Kate, Chuck and I all headed out for dinner at FarmGate in Middleton. And then today has been about relaxing! Sleep in, cups of tea, a walk and a scone with Kate and Francesca and then delicious Thai food for dinner cooked by Chuck.
The week ahead looks especially delicious. Steak, souffles, more home-made pasta and a Wednesday demo on modern vegetarian cuisine. Amazing!
But before we get stuck in, here’s my summary of week 7 in numbers:
Star shaped shortcake biscuits made – 37
Escapee Ballycotton shrimps who jumped out of the pot before I could cook them – 2
Different types of smoked foods eaten in one sitting – 7 (eggs, chocolate, butter, ketchup, chicken, fish and duck. Although apparently I missed the smoked potatoes! I know. Truly gutted)
Temperature of cold smoking – 28C or less. (So actually, it’s more like warm smoking)
Cows milked – 6 (1 didn’t want to come in and play)
3 legged stools available for milking – 1 in my imagination; 0 in reality
Number of chemicals used to wash down the cows before milking – 0 (they simply get sprayed with water)
Glasses of fresh, raw, organic milk drunk – 1
Terrines made – 1
Terrines eaten – 0
Desire to make terrine again – minimal
Beef and oxtail stews made – 1
Hours stew cooked for – 8
Love felt for oxtail stew – not much. (Most of it when it was fiiiiiinaly served up)
Pictures of restaurant rubbish bins seen – More than 10, less than 20
Stages in the Kitchen Management Cycle – 7 (Forecasting, Ordering, Receiving, Storage, Preparation, Service and Post-Service)
Formulas learnt to calculate cost of individual recipes – 1 (E = (D/B)*C or Total cost = Unit cost/Unit of issue*quantity)
Factor to multiply a recipe by to calculate recommended selling price – 4
Wine tastings (official) – 0
Wine tastings (unofficial) – 2
Shifts worked in professional kitchen – 1!
Layers of butter in flakey pastry – 729 (it’s all about those 4 additions of butter and then the folds and rolls)
Butter in flaky pastry – 225gms
Apple pies made with flakey (and shortcrust as it happens) pastry – 1
Score out of 10 for apple pie – 10
Sourdough loaves made – 1
Skype chats had with friends and family – 5
Important letters written – 1
Exams aced – 2 (I think getting over 90% in each counts as aceing right?)
Horoscopes and star signs read – 3 (most unlike me)
So here’s to Week 8 and beyond!
Happy Sunday everyone x