Ballymaloe – Week 9: The Damp Squid

Apart from my damp squid, this week was a knockout. I reckon Darina felt threatened when she saw my exceptional cinnamon ice cream, venison stew and saffron poached pears. Then Friday hit, and I let myself down massively with my squid. The teachers encourage us to use plain, white plates as much as possible when serving, because that’s what we will be expected to do in the exam, and I usually comply (mostly because I have no idea where the fancy stuff is kept). But this Friday, a mysterious black plate appeared at my section, and I decided to go all artsy with my little, tentacled pal. Before he made it to the plate, I took off his skin, pulled out his intestines, cut off his eyes and removed his incredible “quill” (what looks likle a plastic quill going up through his body). Then I scored the lovely, soft flesh diagonally, before the problems started. I grabbed some rocket from the larder, tossed it in a gallon of olive oil, marinated it in salt, and plonked it down on the designer plate, stalks and all, leaving lovely, shiny streaks in most directions. I then put another heap of salt on the squid and put him on a hot grill-pan. Drizzled a bit of parsley oil over the top and Bob’s your uncle… oily, salty squid on a grease speckled plate. I think you’re safe, Darina…


Venison Stew

pear and cinnamon ice cream

Poached saffron pear with cinnamon ice cream


Squid on a plate that’s far too trendy for me

This week we were also treated to the dream team. Rory and Darina teamed up for our canapé lecture on Wednesday. It was gas! A little bit of sibling rivalry up the front, but mostly they got on famously. Check out their upcoming tv show on RTE. I’d say it’ll be a great laugh, judging by this promo video…

radish canapé

Rory’s ravishing radish canapé


Maple Leaves

Some beautiful maple leaves to serve canapés on


Gorgeous rare lamb on a rosemary skewer


Rory arranging salmon rolls with a mischievous grin

quail's eggs

Quail’s eggs served in their boxes with things to dip in (olive oil, salt, cumin seeds) and olives

Quail's egg nest

Quail’s egg nest



Tower of anchovy and sesame seed straws

There are so many occasions at Ballymaloe where I have to pinch myself. We get these incredible guests, amazing opportunities and wonderful produce. This Thursday was another one of those times. Unbeknownst to me until last week, the third Thursday in November is also known as ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ day. On that date, worldwide, the first examples of the latest Beaujolais (100% Gamay from a wine area near Lyon) are popped open and tasted. Although the wine is still relatively young, it gives wine enthusiasts and critics a first glimpse of what the vintage of 2016 will bring. We were lucky enough to get a few bottles here in Ballymaloe, and we had a special tasting evening to sample it. The video below probably says it all….

Last but not least… The pop up!!! Over 70 guests came to our “Lost and Found’ restaurant in the cookery school on Saturday. It was a celebration of forgotten skills and flavours and was an absolute triumph. The lead up to it had been pretty dramatic and stressful (running a restaurant is definitely tougher than we anticipated), but it all really came together on the night. I was involved in bread, fermentation and waitressing. Now, that may not sound like much, but I was pooped. I was in on Thursday at 6.30am to get the sourdough loaves ready for two day fermentation. Tuesday and Thursday evenings saw the creation of our very own Blackberry and Sweet Geranium Kefir and on Saturday I did a full 24 hourer, starting with various yeast breads and kefir straining at 6.30am and ending with a raucous singsong around the bonfire until 5 am! It was brilliant to see everyone getting stuck in and working together (cheesy as it may sound). If only we could do it all again. Right now it’s study time!! Not long until the final exams…

Cluster loaves

Some cluster loaves in the oven

dining room

Dining room


Blackberry and sweet geranium kefir and St. Clement’s lemonade


Fire roaring in the dining room

pop up

Arrangement at pop up


Bar at pop up



Bread team

Bread team with some bread (missing our gluten free member)


Bread on the table


Bread arrangement

And some more non-pop up photos…


Rolling in the butter for my puff pastry

Puff pastry

Puff pastry “book” after roll number one (of three). Quote of the week come from Rory O’Connell – “I love making puff pastry. I’m hardly ever happier”

Eccles Cake

My little eccles cake made with flaky pastry


Little squid, pre-destruction


Sunrise at Ballymaloe






Agen prunes cooked in red wine, stuffed with walnuts and rose water cream


Moroccan Snake

Moroccan Snake


Debbie teaching us how to cut our own steaks:)


Ultimate steak and chips with bearnaise sauce

Blue cheese

Blue cheese day

Warm salad

Warm salad with caesar dressing, gubeen bacon, coolea cheese and a poached egg

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