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The Whey Way

Maybe this is a stretch, but to me the day was about food cycles. For instance, during the cheese lecture, we talked about whey (the liquid part left when making cheese as opposed to the solid, curds) and how in Parma, the pigs are fed the whey from making parmesean cheese and the result is then also delicious Parma ham. (This is old photo from my first week. Artisan food retailer Peter Ward of Country Choice visited us and brought some parmesean! More on him later.)


Then, at demo Darina and Patrick (an American here for part of the summer) demonstrated how to make homemade ricotta using whey. Patrick stressed how even after the ricotta was made, you would still have leftover whey for the pigs (so you get multiple uses out of trying to make cheese). He also had a good story about working with a cheesemaker in Italy and having some customers return some goat cheese because it tasted like licorice. Unbeknownst to them, the goats had found a licorice patch!


Later we had our first of many wine lectures with Ballymaloe House sommelier Colm McCan , who was very excited about getting Ballymaloe House to have its wine list on an iPad in the restaurant (talk about old meeting new).


We talked about different types of white wines, like Riesling and Chardonnay. First, this was slightly confusing because we Americans know wines by varietals (like how I just mentioned, Riesling grapes and Chardonnay grapes). However, the Old World (classic winemaking regions: think France, Italy, Spain, Germany) characterizes wine totally differently than the New World (US, Australia, South Africa, Chile, etc.). They categorize wine by the region the wine is produced in rather than the varietals and there are many strict laws about labeling.

For instance, we tried a Chablis (all Chablis are made with 100% Chardonnay grapes) and Colm stressed that if someone grew Riesling grapes in the Chablis area of Burgandy and tried to sell the wine as a Chablis, he/she could be fined or even sent to jail. The Chablis (Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis, Burgundy, France 2008) we tried had a minerally taste. I’m sure you have heard of that – some wines being fruity; others having a more minerally character. Well, the interesting thing about this one, is that the Chardonnay vines were grown on Kimmeridgian limestone soils, which basically means the vines are growing on soil that is part-fossilized oyster shell. Even though it has been years since the land was oysters, you still get the minerally taste from the shelly soil.

And, what’s more, one of the greatest foods to drink this wine with is… oysters!

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