Today was theory day in the Cookery School. I was already having withdrawal symptoms from the kitchen. (and my candied peel was DYING to see me!). The afternoons lecture on HACCP and food safety, as it is my original training, was going to be interesting from a chef’s point of view. But I had no idea on what to expect from the wine lecture.
Firstly Darina instructed us on how to make a good cup of tea. MY liquid gold, I was absolutely *Gasping* for one by the time she had finished explaining it. We also heard about herb teas, and discussed the merits of various herbs in teas.
Some herbs used in herbal teas
We then moved swiftly onto another of my “gold” favourites, cheese. Vacherin Mon D’Or is a cheese produced with such a high regard for tradition, that is it often only produced from September to May, it is another liquid heaven…
I have a passion for food history, and pricked up my ears when Darina spoke of the Butter Market in Cork, (1722 – 1935). I had to know more, as butter is yet another of my favourite liquid golds. Apparently the butter was so highly thought of as it had to get strictly tested, and was then graded.
It was categorised into 5 types, “first” being the best, “Bishop” being the worst. The Cork Butter Market was the largest in the World in 1835. The Butter roads were vital to the market, and during the 1820′s the government financed various schemes to make the network of existing roads connecting other counties with Cork, more direct. For example, the new road from Listowel to Cork, completed in 1829, reduced the road distance from 164km to 106 kms.
The butter market was open at times 24 hours, meaning it was accessible to those in remote areas. The inspectors would draw lots on which section they would inspect to make it fair and equitable.
Possibly the first creamery in Ireland (with separators) to serve a number of farmers was the Midleton Dairy Company, Co. Cork, promoted and planned by Penrose Fitzgerald, which started operations 1882, this was the beginning of the end for the Butter Market. As an aside, Penrose Fitzgerald, was from an eminent Quaker family, although I cannot trace the ancestry.
Enough about butter, mind you some might say there is NEVER enough said about butter… and onto the last liquid gold of the day
A little wine tasting
Chardonnay. Yes, wine tasting on a Thursday morning is something I could get use to. But I actually, and surprisingly got more from Peter Corr, and Colm McCan talking about, and relating stories of Chardonnay, then quite possibly from the tasting itself. We watched a really good piece by Jancis Robinson on Chardonnay produced in Adelaide, Australia, and Burgundy France. Both producers featured were hugely passionate, and both not quite so complementary about the others products. It must be said, however, that the Australian gentleman was much more polite about his counterparts efforts.
The Frenchman, for me, described his wine perfectly, trying to contain the spirit of the soil, the peace, the environment, the history all in a glass. It’s a little like what Ballymaloe are trying to “bottle” in us, the essence of holistic food production and sourcing, the combination of history, skills, environment and good soil.