Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Guest post: A Day at Nick Nairn's Cook School

Today's posting was writting by our friend Lindsay, who was lucky enough to spend a day at Nick Nairn's Cook School up near Aberfoyle at Lake of Mentieth.

Here's what she has to say about her day:

Course: More Modern Scottish Cookery:
You are asked to arrive about 9.45 in the morning for coffee and biscuits with your fellow cooks. A lot of people were there with friends but there were quite a few of us there on our own and we paired up before heading into the kitchen.

The kitchen is amazing and is set up to have a demo kitchen at the top of the room (with a giant mirror over it so you can see into the chefs pots as they cook) and lots of sub kitchens (one for every 2 people) that each have a huge gas range cooker, sink and drawers with all the implements and equipment that you need.

For the 1st few hours we watched the chefs make a Langoustine bisque (which we later used to make our main course), a cardamom custard and chocolate sauce.

We stopped at about 12.30 for scones with jam and cream and a cup of tea. Then we got back into the kitchen to start cooking.

We made scallops with black pudding for starter and while the handling of the live scallops was not for the squeamish, the dish was easy to do and looked very impressive. I don't like black pudding but the Stornoway black pudding they used was fantastic and I am now a convert.

For the main course we made a fish stew type thing with coconut milk, chilli and coriander. It was really tasty.

The pudding was sensational. We made individual soft chocolate cakes to go with the custard and chocolate sauce the chefs made earlier. They served it all with a dollop of marmalade ice cream that they made the day before and while I don't like marmalade, it is one of the nicest ice creams I have ever tasted and offset the pudding perfectly. The chefs thought that we might struggle to eat the cake as the whole thing is quite rich and we had eaten a lot at that point. A second one might have taken longer than the 10 seconds it took to scoff the first one, but it could have been done!

Wine is served throughout the day with the food which you eat at big dining tables. Before you make anything the chefs demo it and then walk around while you cook to give you a hand. We were really lucky and got both chefs (John and Andy) as you usually only get one per class. They were great fun and couldn't have been more helpful.

The day ends at about 5.30pm and you then have to try and restrain yourself in the shop they have which sells everything from range cookers to kitchen utensils, books and ingredients. If you left the car at home and are drinking wine, then leave your credit cards too!!

It is expensive so not something you would do too often, and most people had been given it as a present like I was. But I couldn't recommend it highly enough, and whether you think you think you should be on Masterchef or have trouble boiling an egg, you will have a fantastic day and come away itching to have friends round for dinner so you can show off what you learned.

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