Day 13 – Wine Time

I started early this morning with a session in The Bread Shed. Students interested in learning about sourdough can volunteer to help Tim Allen bake for the farm shop. My classmate Gabby and I had a great time and picked up some tricks so hopefully I will get better results when I try again. We had a few slices warm from the oven slathered with butter and jam after we finished. Tim says that the key to sourdough is steam so you should bake loaves in a dutch oven. Noted. Also apparently you can freeze your starter if you go on holiday. This changes everything!

The rest of the day was spent learning about beef, we picked horseradish to make sauce for lunch and then learned about methods of preservation. We don’t cook on Wednesdays. It always feels like it will be a nice break but sitting down and listening for so long when you are used to being on your feet is exhausting!

Everyone was pretty tired by the evening so were less than thrilled about the compulsory extra class. Sommelier Colm McCann visited the school with natural winemakers from France and Italy. But it turned out to be a very pleasant hour! It was a beautiful sunny evening so we sat outside in the amphitheatre (yes, there’s an ampitheatre) and sampled eight glasses of wine while listening to the winemakers talk. They say the biggest challenges facing wine in Europe today are bureaucracy and climate change. The biggest difference between old and new world wines is that in the new world the focus is on grape variety and in Europe the focus is on terroir, or soil. Colm knows how to have a good time.

I learned : All (non-sprayed) roses are edible.

As I had long suspected, glacé cherries are not made from fruit. They’re just sugar dyed and moulded into a cherry shape.

Veal comes from calves slaughtered at 2 months. Ballymaloe do not serve veal because they think it’s cruel. They do, however, serve rosé veal which comes from 6 month old calves.

More on wet vs dry aged meat. Dry ageing meat allows the fat to deteriorate, which allows the enzymes to break down muscle, naturally tenderising the meat. Wet-aged beef not only has a gummier texture but it is more expensive as the meat is heavier.

Food of the day : Cassoulet. French casserole of haricot beans and lamb in a rich tomato sauce.

Line of the day : From a natural winemaker unhappy with labelling regulations. “All those big industrial wine producers should have to be called chemical winemakers, and I should just be called a winemaker.”  Life is unfair.