The Stagiaire

I read over my first week’s post from Ballymaloe near to my first day ‘anniversary’. It struck how wonderously awed I sound, like a child on Christmas morning. It also struck me that I make no mention of the actual food or cooking! This year, instead of walking through the kitchen garden in chef’s whites, I was bringing Mr. WB home from A&E, both in our pyjamas (all better now, thank God).

Anyway, I didn’t mention it, but I remember on my first days in the kitchen thinking ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. Drying dishes the night of the pop-up, I thought ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. And now? I’ve just finished my first week…working in a restaurant kitchen. Paradiso‘s restaurant kitchen, to be precise.

I’ve peeled, prepped, pureed, chopped, baked, scooped and sieved my way through five evenings. There’s been a burn or two, which I haven’t even registered at the time. I’ve gone from never using a blowtorch to browning Baked Alaskas with gusto, and plating 40 desserts in one service.

It’s an amazing experience, not least because I get to eat the same food as the customers! Little do they know, as they sit chatting and laughing, that inside, seated on the stepladder beside the freezer, is a rookie chef enjoying the same plate of beetroot risotto (albeit in a 10 minute break).

In fact, I think every diner would appreciate their food all the more, were they know the time involved in the kitchen preparation!

GROW HQ

I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t posted in an entire month- work, appointments and sleeping badly seem to have got in the way. Anyway, I’m back with a rather belated post on the fabulous GROW HQ in Waterford, which  Mr. WB & I visited last month on our summer holiday.

The building itself is a funky affair-bright colours, concrete, and wooden tables with their own individual carved messages. Surrounded by gardens, you forget that you’re just off a roundabout and main road. I particularly liked the miniature garden, showing what can be achieved in a small space. It wasn’t lost on me that it’s just around the corner from University Hospital Waterford- perhaps the patient and staff could look out and feel inspired towards healthier homegrown food as a preventative medicine.

While not being a vegetarian cafe, the vegetables are definitely the stars of this menu. In fact, there’s even a ‘HQ Hero’ plate which features a vegetable cooked five different ways- great inspiration if you hit a garden glut!

Mr. WB satisfied his hunger with a hearty lunch, while I enjoyed a generous bowl of brocolli & romanesco salad with Cashel Blue dressing, caramelised cashews & dots of cauliflower puree.

I have to say I was rather jealous of Mr. WB’s beetroot & chocolate cake, but felt sufficiently appeased by deciding to order a gooseberry & tayberry parfait, especially when I was offered some ice cream in lieu of the usual (gluten-y) shortbread biscuits.

Calling GROW HQ a cafe really belies the quality of the food- this is restaurant quality food at cafe prices. I just wish it was closer to Cork!

A filling lunch plate
Broccoli & Romanesco salad
Beetroot Cake & Ice Cream
Gooseberry & Tayberry Parfait