Week 12: A summary in numbers


And so, the end.

This time I can’t agree with Dr Seuss when he says, “Don’t be sad it’s over, smile because it happened” What a load of tosh! I’m desolate it’s over. How could I not be sad that such an amazing, wonderful, immersive, joyous, frustrating and dare I say it… life changing event is now over.

The exams are done, the bubbles have been drunk, the recipes (Thank God) are filed, the Goodbyes are said, the cottages are packed up and our January 2016 Ballymaloe Bubble has popped; dispersing us back to the 4 corners of the world from whence we came. Continue reading

Days 59 & 60: Exams and a bit of a party

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!

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Learning my different cuts of animal

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Days 57 and 58: à point; my Masterchef moment

Tuesday morning was our final, final demo of the 12 week course. And we were so lucky to have Rory taking us through it. And it was wonderful. Talk about saving the best til last. Oysters with Champagne. Roast Haunch of Venison. Amazing Beef; in Red Wine Sauce, Carpaccio’s and Tartares. Whole Poached Salmon. Quail Veronique and Oeufs a la Neige. All indulgent, special occasion dishes.

Rory and his salmon

Rory was on great form. Honestly has just been such an amazing teacher, so precise and clear. Everything feels totally calm and achievable. Every sentence there’s something to learn. Every word is a gift.  Continue reading

Day 56: The end of regular programming and a visit to Cafe Paradiso

Week 12! I mean I should not have been surprised it had arrived. But for all my day by day counting and weekly summaries, I distinctly remember waking up on Monday morning and thinking “WTF. Have I counted right? Can this really be week 12?” But I checked. And of course, it was. There was no getting around it, we were marching swiftly on to THE END. (Gasp)

Me (late) off to the kitchens to do my final day of regular cooking

And what a week it was going to be:

  • Monday was the only day of regular routine in that we were in the kitchens cooking in the morning and then had our usual demo in the afternoon.
  • Tuesday was our final demo and study day
  • Wednesday and Thursday were Masterchef (read practical exams)
  • Friday we had 3 written exams followed by our final party.
  • Saturday was goodbyes (and inevitable hangovers).

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Week 10: a summary in numbers

On Monday, Darina told us we might find ourselves getting rather frustrated this week. Along with week 5 (the first low point) the next bump in the road is officially supposed to be week 10.

“You’re all tired and it’s suddenly hits you there are only 2 weeks left. You’re overwhelmed, unsure of what might come next, some of you may feel you never want to see a pot or a pan again and everyone is annoying you… including me! But don’t worry, all this will pass” – Darina

For me, any low points (e.g. a 1am finish while writing out my final menu, to facing a small mountain of filing, to feeling like a lobster murderer) have been totally outweighed by the good stuff. The foraging classes, the miraculous lamb butchery lesson where I learnt the best way ever to french trim a rack of lamb, the tapas demonstration (and sherry tasting….) the Californian wine tasting, the pop-up dinner. Again, many, many times to count my blessings and feel immensely grateful.


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Days 48 & 49: Seafoody

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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: Continue reading