With the end so near and so much to do between now and the end of week 12, blog posts are officially now going to be short and sweet. That means lots of pictures and no tangents Fi. (Well, let’s see how I go. I do love a good tangent (read procrastination) and I love writing this blog. It’s become such an important end of the day / week ritual and an important part of processing it all)
So, last Thursday and Friday were distinctly fishy. For 3 reasons:
First up on Thursday was Irish seafood chowder filled with all good things from the ocean. Stars of the show were these fairly ugly but also amazingly cool monkfish. Mother Nature is such a clever lady sometimes. Monk fish (or Angler fish as they are also known) have these little fishing-rod like filaments that come out of their heads. With their camouflagey upper side, the monkfish blends into the seafloor and they use their fishing rods to lure in little fish that pass by; their dinner!
Combined with mussels, pollack, salmon, Dublin Bay prawns and potatoes, carrots, milk….
….and you have a total bowlful of deliciousness.
And then – Friday was lobster day.
Oh goodness. I know I shouldn’t mind. I’ve butchered lamb. I’ve deboned multiple chickens. I’ve pickled and eaten Ox tongue for goodness sake, and yet there is something about putting a lobster in a pot when it is still alive which I find slightly hard to feel good about.
Apparently the most humane way (this is according to the RSPCA) is to put them in a pot with cold water and A LOT of salt (4 ounces salt to 6 pints of water, I know) and then slowly bring them up to the boil.
“We hope they go into the pot and feel like they’re bathing in a rock pool down at Shanagarry beach with the sun starting to come out and warm them up before they go off to lobster heaven”
– Lobster death according to Darina.
But who knows. I tell you what the lobsters we put in the pot certainly made a fair bit of racket. (Read the pot lid came flying off and Florrie (our teacher) had to hold it back down). I’d love to believe the rockpool story, but…. not sure that’s quite the reaction of a slowly, gently and pain free bathe in a rockpool.
You have to kill the lobster yourself you see because they deteriorate so quickly after they’ve died. Hence why you always see them alive in tanks in restaurants. Not just for aesthetics or to show off but because you have to kill, cook and eat asap.
Also – is it even worth it? I know a lot of people love it and may disagree but I’m not sure I even like lobster that much. Yes it’s rich and almost buttery in taste… but, even after tasting a lobster in a butter sauce or lobster in a brioche roll, I’m still not sure I’m sold. Currently in the over-rated category in my opinion.
Then on Friday we went sea foraging! Down at the beach with Emer and Darina, there was a well timed low Spring tide that we could take advantage off. We mainly focussed on seaweeds and found kelps, dulse, carageen…. as well as periwinkles and sea spinach. Again – totally fascinating.
Thursday was also final exam menu submission day! Before 9am on Thursday we had to submit to Pam the full and detailed menu and order for the 3 course meal we’re going to cook in week 12 as part of our final exams. You know, the one we have 3 hours for. Including making a bread. Yikes!
Over the 3 courses mine features peas and mint, lamb, jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts and a kick-arse-totally-amazing chocolate almond gateau. Soooooo delicious but I have no idea if it is actually feasible to do in the time. Especially when you add an unknown bread in there. It’s unknown because they pull a type of bread (brown soda, white soda, white yeast, focaccia etc) out of a hat and tell us 24 hours in advance of our cooking time and we have to build it into our 3 hour order of work plan.
I take a deep inhale of breath every time I think about it.
Distraction! Here is my bench after Friday’s morning of cooking. Small plum and almond tarts (made with my puff pastry), soda bread x 2 (I made two loaves as I wasn’t happy with the first one, it was too wet hence too flat), mayonnaise, that lobster roll served with cucumber pickle and a large savoury cheese, with cheese, tomatoes and tapenade. (More puff pastry action)
Ha, talk about a not so short and sweet blog post. Could do better. Right, I must go and revise wine regions and appellations in France.
Speaking of which…Did you know there are over 6,000 wine chateaux in Bordeaux? And that the main grape varieties are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon? And that sparkling wine made in France but outside of Champagne is a cremant?
PS. A visual of that chocolate cake