student road trip

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ah yes the title is not what it seems to be but this is a culinary students road trip to a few different suppliers and a bit to eat in a five star hotel , yes that is what I call a road trip and it was a wonderful experience to say the least ,

on a cold and wet Thursday we left limerick and headed south to the rebel county and the home of the english market which is cork city for who ever doesn’t know where we are heading . as we arrived at the market we were met with the different smells and sounds that would greet you as if it was an outdoor market ,just as well it was indoors or else we would be very wet ,first stop was o connell’s fish stall this in my opinion is the crème de la crème of fish stalls around its no wonder the queen of England came to visit it on her trip to Ireland, the choice of fish that is on offer is top class ranging from  fresh whole monkfish to cooked and smoked spart’s this was a real treat for someone who is a fish lover and it really was an eye opener to somebody that didn’t know a whole lot about fish ,from here with empty stomachs we headed to hayfield manor house which is a five star hotel situated in the heart of cork city but still gives you that country style feel , here we  wined and dined on a fabulous 3 course meal that also included petit fours at the end it was a well worth experience and on the colleges behave money well spent .after we were fuelled up and ready for more travelling we headed towards Kanturk to visit Ardrahan cheese makers who were very nice to give us a guided tour of their production line even though they don’t normally take tours we were an exception . it was back into kanturk town for our last stop to jack mac Carthys award winning butchers here we sampled some of the finest meats and puddings that were on offer and shown how they have won so many wards for their  black puddings including a world championship winning black pudding ,they produce up to 16 different types of pudding who knew that you could produce so many well these boys are the experts when it comes to doing it ,all their hard work has paid off with receiving a knighthood from the French pudding society for their produce and also producing a black pudding for the queen’s state banquet on her visit ,all in all it was a great day out that I would do again at the drop of a hat.

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apples, alcohol and and five a day

Imagewell today was a day for our own input into the desserts we were making so I decided to put a twist on the classic  jelly and ice cream .so with  an idea in mind and some ingredients in front of me I went to work and came up with a very appetising desserts that would also give you that after dinner liquor that goes down so well after a heavy meal .so I decided on a apple ice cream with and apple sourz jelly I know it sounds a bit full of apple but I sure as hell didn’t feel like it the taste of apple sourz in jelly form took me back to my teenage day of jelly shots which mite of hand a small influence on the matter at hand . I used a simple ice cream base mix but in corporated candied apple pieces and also some fresh apple juice that gave it a lovely fresh taste. also to accompany the dessert was some apple wafer crisps that I prepared out of fresh granny smith apples and some small fresh beetroot juice jellybeans  I know sounds weird but gives and exceptional flavour to the dessert. in my opinion I would include this as two of my five a day but I don’t think doctors would be too happy but an apple a day will keep them away so its a win win situation .

chocolate , chocolate and more chocolate

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well its good to be back again blogging after a period of indulgence over the Christmas period it was straight back into action in the kitchen both larder and pastry were at full flight over the past number of weeks ,my reason for not blogging in a while ,but I am back and be prepared for some tasty treats and savoury snacks as I show you what has been going on over the past few weeks on both sides of the kitchen. first off is pastry ,well I should call this chocolate class as chocolate sculptures were on the menu and chocolate tempering ,”warning to every body if you are doing one of these class’s either sculpture or tempering do not wear a white apron ” I am still cleaning mine 2 weeks later ,lesson learnt in my case .but anyway enough of me rambling on here is what I produced for my first ever sculpture/ centrepiece

the day started off with us weighting up our different chocolate types be it milk, white or dark chocolate . all chocolate that is used needs to be tempered ,in case you don’t know what this is the melting of the chocolate to a certain tempreture  and cooling to a lower one in oreder to get the right consistency for the chocolate to set and shine .

I was using both milk, white and dark chocolate on my sculpture so I had a lot of tempering to do .when the chocolate is tempered you have to work quickly in oreder to fill the moulds and get the chocolate to set .the sculpture consisted of many different shapes including a gold coloured chocolate egg .here some pictures of the different stages in the process

Drivers ciders and Delicous treats

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Image Last Thursday we took a trip to the lovely county of Kilkenny to see what it had to offer to culinary aspiring students and to give us a chance to see different artisan producers ,and how they produced their produces for a living .

our day started early as the bus left the institute for Kilkenny at 8:00am we travelled first to Callan which is on the outside of Kilkenny city ,here we visited Highbank Orchard here we say how different artisan produces are made by using only the naturally grown apples on the farm , they produce a number of different items ranging from  syrups to ciders  . a tour of the orchard gave us areal insight into the way in which an orchard is run and the effort that is put in to producing the very best produces for an artisan market ,in the on farm shop we were given samples of the produces that were on offer , ranging from the honey syrup to the medival cider that is know being sent to china for sale over their. we were also shown a very unique product by the company which was a drivers cider ,this is a zero alcohol cider still the same great taste ( a few were sampled ) that allows people to drive after drinking which is not the case with the other ciders that are on the market today. it gave us a great look at the number of produce and ideas that can be put into action using one simple ingredient .

the next stop for us was in Kilkenny city where we went for lunch in a lovely restaurant called ZUNI this was a well laid3ed out place with a small elegant tapas bar at the front that was backed up by the well laid out dining area with its open kitchen plan and stylish furniture we dined here as a group and I must say service was second to none ,our starters were in-front of us no longer than two minutes after the order was placed ,here I went for the beetroot tar tatin and goats cheese curd which was melt In your mouth , for maincourse I had the battered fish and chip and homemade tartar sauce . this had to be by far the best battered fish I had in a long time . from here we moved onto Kells wholemeal mills in Thomastown  here we got to see how all the various mixes for breads and baking mixes are produced .this was a very good insight into how all the baking produce that we use are tried and tested before they are put on the shelf for us to buy , we also had to do some of the sampling of the produces as we were given some fresh baked produces by the owner to take home and sample ” need I say they didn’t last long ”.

next stop was goats bridge trout farm this is a small trout producing trout farm that has a huge history in the business but remains family run for over 50 years . the owner kindly gave us a brief tour of the farm as light was running out so we didn’t have much time due to health and safety reasons ,nobody wanted an unexpected swim in the dark. He also showed us that there is a lot of work involved in taking care of the production of fish in there breeding and rearing as their life span is around 24 months up to the time they are used for production . he also showed us the various items they had to offer ranging from smoked fillets of rainbow trout to trout caviar that is their newest product on the market .

all said it was an exciting trip out that provided us with lots of information on different artisan producers and how they have develop and expand there business and produces over a number of years and also it was nice to get out of the busy kitchen environment at this time of the the year as work is mounting now for the holiday period within our own work establishments the break from the collage kitchen was a welcomed break.

birds of feather flock together ( into the kitchen )

ImageThis week was game week in college for us as we got our hands on some of our furred and feathered friends , this was a really exciting class as we got to prep and cook the game in many different ways including the use of the new sous vide baths in the kitchen , As you all know this is the time of the year for game meat and it truly is a delicacy this time of the year as the weather gets colder the taste of a homemade rabbit stew or a pan fryed haunch of venison banishes away the winter blues and cold chills . My opinion on the eating of game meat is that people either love it or hate it and I truly love my food and game is no different to any other type of meat or poultry . Although their is a short season for game it is vital that you source your meat from registered suppliers that have the knowledge and experience of game meats as it can often be a tasteless experience if you receive a game bird that is riddled with pellets . the amount of people that I have seen not to eat game because of it being a wild bird these people don’t know the true meaning of food and its heritage in the world today. without meat and poultry we would not be provided with eggs and milk ,cheese ,leather and wool for our clothing , also the possibility of  living in a field walking around naked living off a diet of grass and water would not be a pretty sight for any ones eyes . one question I’d like to put forward is why would those people go into a fast food outlet and eat a burger or chicken nuggets of some sort when its all processed food  and riddled with additives and preserves that give it that taste that you would receive off a piece of cardboard if you chewed it and turn their noses up at a fresh piece of wild pheasant or venison that has lived freely and is free from any additives or preservitives that drive heart rates soaring high and cholesterol to a whole new level . these people are loosing out on what is good for them. this is the way I look at the matter on hand .As it was said by  the great Marco Pierre White ” the best way to celebrate an animals life is by eating it ” .WP_20131111_005 WP_20131111_003

back to college blues and tasty treats

WP_20131105_008 (1) WP_20131105_004 WP_20131105_004 (1) WP_20131105_002 WP_20131105_009 WP_20131105_009 (1) WP_20131105_008 WP_20131105_020 WP_20131104_014 WP_20131104_011 WP_20131104_003 WP_20131104_002this week we were back to college after a week off which they call a break but for any one in the culinary industry also studying this just means you are rosstered for a full weeks work ,”break what break ?” .our start back to college was a break for some of us , a break from the hussle and bussle of a busy kitchen and long shifts. On Monday our larder lecture set about showing us the processes used in cooking sous vide ,little did we know it was an eventful class as it was his first time using the new sous vide water baths in the college so a learning experience for us all .this class also gave us a chance to plate up our salmon gravadlax that we had prepared the previous week along with the sorbets we also had prepared to accompany the salmon .

moving on to Tuesday this is by far one of my favourite days of the week as we have pastry class and this only means one thing ,dessert for after dinner tonight is taking care of.This week we were doing gateauxs  and this was a class to savour layers apon layers of different gateau fillings were being prepared and the aroma of fresh sponge filled the kitchen with that home cooked felling that you would get from your grandmothers kitchen after she had baked her annual batch of Christmas puddings ,that scent that hits the back of your mouth when you walk in the door ,we all know what I’m talking about .Then the creamy mixes of different fillings that would be sandwiched between the sponge was a sight to be savoured ranging from citrus fruit pastry creams to lavish chocolate mousse and raspberry cliouis that would make any person gain weight at the sight of them no to mention tasting them , the gateau that I was preparing was a Almond Daquise, raspberry pastry cream and chocolate mousse gateau topped with pink lavender flavoured icing ,yes that is a mouth full in itself and it truly was a culinary delight .

midterm madness at 1826 adare

imagesWhile on our midterm break from college I got a golden opportunity to start work at 1826 Adare a restaurant owned by chef Wade murphy and his wife Elaine , this is a great stepping stone for me in my career as I get the chance to learn forom one of ther best chefs in Ireland as I develop my skills ,my first day started off as a trail run to see how I would get on and it truly was a trail , as service starts the atmosphere in the kitchen does not change , unlike the pace of which we work at .as orders startto appear at the pass we get into gear and provide a fantastic meal experience . the menu is a 555 a la carte menu ,that meets the need of everyone . Wade with many years experience behind him (culinary genious as described by food critic tom Doorley ) having worked in some of the top establishments in the world aswell as with some of the top chefs in the world provides a great platform to start from . during my first service he guided me through each dish as it was platted and then he left me to work on the starter section on my own surveying everything at the pass . this in my opinion gave me the chance to showcase my skills and set a standard for myself that I am to achieve and surpass  every time I step into the kitchen as I develop and strive to achieve higher standards every day under his watchful eye. The so called trail has now developed into a job and a place in the kitchen of the thatched cottage of 1826 . here I truly believe that I can build on my culinary knowledge and skills as I soak up as much as I can from the mind of one of the best in the business as we produce what he likes to call ”classical with a contempary touch cusine ”