Day 53 – Smorgasbord

I did not make or learn about smorgasbords today, but there were many different activities.

This morning started at 8am with a wine exam. 100 multiple choice questions. Can you tell me the three grape varieties permitted in the making of Champagne? Or could you describe the body of a Sauvignon Blanc? I’m not sure I can either, but hopefully I passed.

Next week we have a practical cooking exam and three more written papers. There was some hysteria over the first round of exams in week six, which in retrospect was totally needless, but I will admit I bought into. My objective this time around is not to be top of the class but to remain calm.

Then we had a demo on sushi and Turkish food. One of our teachers Shermin is half Turkish and has worked in top end Japanese restaurants so she is an expert on both.


After an international lunch we had a quick demo on chocolate and then we were taken on a tour of Ballymaloe House followed by afternoon tea. I think they were trying to treat us to a gentle afternoon after the morning and ease us into the final stretch. Nothing like cucumber sandwiches to celebrate!

(Today’s main picture is a collage of pictures of notable Ballymaloe guests from the wine cellar).


In the evening some of us who volunteered at a fundraising dinner for Slow Food Ireland were invited to Darina and Tim’s house for drinks and canapés. To respect their privacy I will not post pictures of their house but I can tell you that Darina can ENTERTAIN. Her house is exquisite and so was the food.


I learned : Sushi doesn’t need to have raw fish. It refers to the rice – the variety, cooking method and seasoning.

Sushi masters train for 15 years. They make all the grains of the rice in their rolls to face the same direction. I like sushi, but I think there are better things to do with 15 years of your life.

Food of the day : Lobster Vol Au Vents, one of the delicious canapés served at Darina’s.

Line of the day : ‘Focus on quality and the bottom line looks after itself.’ Words of wisdom at Ballymaloe House.