Biodynamics and Pheasants
Oh, how I’ve come to love Wednesdays since I’ve been at Ballymaloe. It’s our theory day and we don’t cook. This morning’s demonstration was a tour de force presentation of vegetarian recipes.
After yesterday’s unintentional fast, lunch today was a citadel of gluttony! I never saw more food put out at one demonstration and that’s saying something. There are several recipes I can’t wait to try on my family, though I know they’ll have some kind of protein on the sidelines waiting to slip in. Honestly, I’ve never missed meat less.
I told Arden that just the recipe packet we had for the morning could become a menu for a vegetarian restaurant in Dallas and would be wildly successful.
After that part of the day was over, it was Colm McCann again with wine Wednesday! Today, he taught us about natural wines, which I knew virtually nothing about. Also, we discussed the biodynamic movement which was founded in 1920. From its inception, it was an attempt to bridge the two worlds of modern science and what its founder referred to as “peasant wisdom.” This is right up my alley.
When you choose a biodynamic or natural wine, you are assured of environmentally friendly vineyard practices. No extra additives, minimal manipulation and absolutely no chemicals. It is said that biodynamic vineyards always “feel” alive and healthy. Their practices take into account the seasons as well as lunar and solar rhythms, which would not have seemed strange to our ancestors.
Colm and his colleague for the day, Pascal Rossignol, had 5 natural wines with them for us to taste and I was blown away by how delicious they were. Wine is perceived to be one of the most natural and healthy alcoholic drinks. You might be surprised to discover that the majority of everyday wine is produced using a ton of chemicals. Both in the growing and in the winery, traces of which end up in the final wine. Ever wonder why cheap wine gives you such a headache??
We learned today to think it’s a problem is that there are no ingredient labels on wines. Think about it, some wine labels (French especially) don’t even tell you what grape you’re drinking, much less what they’ve added because they don’t have to. I’m on fire about this topic now and will do my best to seek out natural and biodynamic wines, going forward. And I say, “seek out” because, incredibly, they don’t advertise.
Another fun fact for the day: One of the oldest wine regions in the world is in Georgia and I’m not referring to the Georgia in the US. Wine production has been going on there for about 8,000 years! The roots (pardon the wine pun) of Georgian viticulture have been traced back to when people of that region discovered that wild grape juice turned into wine when it was left buried through the winter in a shallow pit. To this day, they bury their wines in clay pots, or amphorae, as Colm referred to them.
After we were well-sauced with healthy, natural wines and charged up about biodynamic gardening, Arden and I had to meet in The Barn to lend a hand to prep for our popup dinner Saturday night. That’s the irony of cooking school. The morning was all about vegetarian meals and the evening had us plucking freshly shot pheasants. For those of steady constitutions, gutting also needed to be done. Arden and I excused ourselves forthwith. As I am writing, the smell comes unpleasantly back to mind. We’ll have a repeat of this tomorrow evening. Ugh.
The last thing on my agenda for the evening was to collaborate with Lucie, who’s heading up desserts for the popup dinner. In addition to helping to make the desserts, I’m the official bearer of the caramel sauce squeeze bottle whose charge it is to decorate each plate with artistic panache. It’ll be a fun experience and I’m super excited. Also, Kincaid will be here with two of his friends from Riverdance. So excited to see him.❤️
What I’m really excited about is that tomorrow’s cooking is manageable and one of the things I get to do is make butter! Once I know how to do that, homemade bread with homemade butter will definitely set a new standard at Villa Sionna once we're home.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Happy night, all!