With my practical exam done and dusted on Wednesday, it meant I had Thursday free to focus on studying and filing. As I waded through recipes and lecture notes going as far back as week one (remember ‘How To Make The Perfect Cup of Tea?’) I realised not only how much we’d learnt… but how much I had to revise for the three different exams on Friday. Mother and daughter sauces, food costings, Health and Safety (including far too much detail on the 5 main types of food poisoning) specific Ballymaloe recipes to go with the 10 herbs, 15 spices, 10 cuts of meat and 10 fish we were going to have to identify… it was brain overload. What can I say; the art of cramming is not a lost one!
But as it inevitably does, Friday morning rolled around. And the exams…. well, they went. I found them pretty thorough and detailed… I knew a lot, but there was also quite a lot I wasn’t sure on. (Incubation time of E Coli 157 anyone?) I totally failed to recognise a Shin of Beef (and embarrassingly think I wrote something like “Leg of Cow” in the end hahah) but felt good about all my herbs and spices… so there were ups and downs.
It was an almost surreal feeling when at 3.30pm we were asked to put down our pens. We were done!
The rest of Friday whizzed by. Celebratory G&T’s with the Mrs Walsh’s Crew. Packaging up all my boxes of files to send back to London. Packing up my little Convent room that has been home for 3 months. Getting a bit of pink lipstick on for our final night dinner celebration.
And… what a celebration it was! Rory was Head Chef to a truly amazing final dinner, featuring lots of laughs, deliciousness, emotional speeches and of course, wild garlic and mashed potatoes.
Our wonderful teachers were either helping serve or in the kitchen cooking our delicious feast. And the menu was amazing:
The sea kale canapes. Sea Kale is kind of like a cross between white asparagus and salsify but has a very short and sweet one month season from mid March to April only. We were super lucky to be there to taste it. It’s grown at the school and delicious eaten with hollandaise sauce. Or in our case, on toasted sourdough. (Sorry no photo, ate them all too fast)
Also that Wild Garlic Broth. Super Yum.
After dinner Darina, a vision in purple, gave a speech, lots of heartfelt Thank Yous, Well Wishes to us all but not Goodbyes – just Cheerio’s for now. (One could almost get a little emotional at this point so I will refrain)
Because it was Good Friday and everything was closed, they weren’t able to ship us off to the Blackbird at the end of dinner as they’d usually do. So instead at 9pm the tables were pushed back and Mossy (DJ from the Blackbird arrived). As Darina had told us on Tuesday:
“I’m not sure if it’s entirely appropriate for there to be a disco on Good Friday night, but I’ve organised one all the same. You’d just better do your prayers as you’re dancing.”
There was lots of good chat, stories regaled, wine drunk and hugs goodbye. There have just been so many great, wonderful, inspiring and genuine people on this course. How lucky we have been to come away with this experience not just with new skills and knowledge but with real friends and a networks of Ballymaloers across the globe.
And so, under instruction of saying our prayers and counting our blessings, we danced the night away.