Making up for lost time

Right, I've got a lot of ground to cover to bring this blog back up to date, so pay close attention as I shall move swiftly. However, as promised, plenty of photos in this one. Most important thing first, I absolutely destroyed Callum at bowling on Saturday. I suppose when it comes down to it, that’s the only thing of any real significance, but I shall continue anyway.

Friday saw a butchery demonstration at Tante Marie which was just as good as the previous day's fish lecture. We had a (large portion of) a side of beef and a whole lamb carcass broken down in front of us. I think it’s time to invest in a chest freezer at home, because the saving you can make by breaking down a whole carcass like that rather than buying random cuts as you want them is quite considerable (we were told that the whole lamb would have cost about £140).

Before...

...and after

The weekend should have seen some exam practice given the impending exams (which I will probably cover in the next blog), instead however, I went bowling, helped cook a birthday dinner for Theo and went to the London whisky festival. So it was pretty productive. The bowling I’ve already covered, but such a thing cannot be emphasised enough. I destroyed Callum.

There had been many weeks of discussion of what Theo was going to do for his birthday, but in the end, given Theo’s apathy for all decisions, the decision was made on his behalf that after bowling we’d just have a meal at home. I realise I don’t actually post much/anything about food that gets cooked at home, so for your viewing pleasure below is a picture of the scallops I cooked for the meal (with pea puree, asparagus and deep fried clams).

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Relatively successful, but I’m hoping to try it again this week to iron out a few technical difficulties.

Ok, we’re about halfway there. I shall pause and let you relax.

Right, that’s plenty of relaxing. Moving on.

Saturday saw my second whisky festival of the year, this time in London. A decision was clearly made that Rich and I couldn’t be trusted on our own, so James and Joseph accompanied us as well. Below, you can see a picture of the happy chaps. And James.

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The festival itself was very good, although sadly no Ardbeg stall. However, I have to say, I didn’t care much for the location. Rather than central London, or what I perceive as central London, it was held in Shoreditch. I have never been to Shoreditch before, but based on my brief visit, I probably won’t go again. This has nothing to do with it being far away, or dangerous, or anything like that. It’s simply far too cool, and I do not do well in such environments.  I wait with eagerness for the day when exposed piping and wiring goes back out of fashion, and people just plaster over things like they used to.

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That being said, the festival was, as always, very enjoyable. And, as is usually the case, one particular standout was provided by the Scotch Malt whisky Society.

The scotch malt whisky society buys single casks from Scottish distilleries that generally wouldn’t be released in their current form, and then they release very limited bottlings produced only from that single cask. This means that you get an extraordinary range of whiskies being sold under one name (the distillery it comes from is identified by a number on the bottle), which I think is fascinating as it encourages you to focus on the flavour of the whisky first, and not to be swayed by the distillery and its reputation. The one of particular note last week was number 29.130, from the Laphraoig distillery, imaginatively described as ‘chimney sweep smoking a cigar’, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how it tasted. Amazing. Excuse the poor photography.

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Before I finish I’ll leave you with a few pictures. As part of the Tante Marie course in the second term the graduating classes produce food themed for a wedding buffet that the rest of the school then eats. So basically this is some of the stuff I’ll be doing next term. I may not have cooked any of it, but it was quite spectacular so I feel it’s worth sharing a few photos. The one exception is the fruit tart at the bottom which was hastily made on Friday afternoon whilst eating croquembouche from under the table.

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 I think we’re almost back to where we should be. Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll write about this week’s exams and the wine related happenings on the horizon.