Saturday, 15 January 2022

Top places to visit while in Barcelona

 Hii, Semeehat here again.

Today I will be recommending the top places to visit in Barcelona. 

Barcelona has so many lovely Modernist buildings, Gothic alleyways, and Mediterranean beaches . Barcelona is aesthetically pleasing and is a beautiful city to spend your entire time just roaming around and admiring the scenery. It is the best city for someone who is an enthusiast when it comes to art and history.

1. Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf is Barcelona's parallel of Paris's famous triumphal arch, designed by Modernist architect Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas.  This arc was built for a totally different purpose: it served as the primary entrance gate for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition. It is a major thoroughfare in the city and hosts a variety of cultural events, such as markets and parades.

2. National Art museum of Catalunya 

Sculptures, paintings, historical relics, and more are on display in Catalunya's national art museum, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Catalan history. The most famous of the permanent displays comprises Romanesque murals that were carefully transferred and restored here in the 1920s from church apses across Catalunya. The museum also houses one of the finest collections of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art in the region, as well as a substantial part dedicated to modern art, which includes the Picasso Collection.

Magic fountains

Located in placa de Espanya, The montjuic fountains are locted below the stariway that leads to the national art museum of Catalunya. This fountain puts on a fun and beautiful water display, with diffrent patterns and colours.

3. Casa Batllo

The Casa Batlló is a former townhouse designed by legendary Spanish architect Gaudi for the Batlló family in the 19th century. This building is located in Gracia, on a street that is surrounded by designer shops and restaurants.

4.Moco Museum and more 

Located in El born, The Moco museum is located amongst other museums. The moco museum is a contemporary art museum, filled with art pieces including pieces by Banksy. The street is filled with art and history. Walking along the street, you will hear the relaxing sound, of street preformers playing music.

5.Sagrada Famlia 

The Basilica de la Sagrada Famlia, located in the northern section of the city, was designed by Antoni Gaud, the most prominent Catalan architect of contemporary times, in 1883 as a neo-Gothic church. Instead of following the blueprints, he developed a signature piece of surrealism Art Nouveau architecture. He didn't have any definite plans in mind, preferring to change and add to them as the project developed.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Saying Goodbye to the Culloden

 After a month without a head chef and no structure to the kitchen finally we have a new executive head chef along with an executive sous chef. Things have gotten better with less and less agency chefs being used and more full time chefs starting. I myself was even given a promotion and became a lot more hands on with the bar and restaurant sections and trying to avoid pastry at all costs. I decided to stay over christmas and help out which I had worried about but it was a great experience and good fun working on christmas day.

Looking back on my time at the Culloden I have to say I really enjoyed it even if there were times that I was ready to blow up due to the break down in communications that some time arose between different areas it was a great time. I made so many friends in the hotel between the back of house and front of house. I don't think I've hugged so many people leaving a place as I did when I was leaving the hotel. All the chefs were very supportive and wished me the best in the next part of my training. I know I have friends in all of them that I will always get along with them no matter how much we used to wined each other up and when ever I am in Belfast I can stop by the hotel and say hi to them. I even developed relationships that I was not expecting to form whilst up North, some that just hit you unexpectedly and yet everything clicks and feels right.

If I had the chance I would have definitely started earlier than I did and I would even consider going back to work there in the future for some time purely due to the enjoyment that I got from it towards the end of my time there as well of course some of the techniques that I picked up there it was very beneficial to my training. I wish the best to all I worked with during my time at the Culloden.

Down Time in Belfast

 Hello again from the Culloden. Work has been very busy over the past few weeks, with the executive head chef being let go from the hotel. On top of this the head functions chef has been away on holidays leaving me running most of the functions that are going on in the hotel. With this new workload and some miss communication between different areas of the hotel the day to day work life can get stressful so I thought I would come on and talk about how I spend my down time which is very important.

With Belfast city only a ten minute drive away from the hotel it offers a lot of ways to spend my down time most of which is often in a pub. The night life is ecstatic even though nightclubs are only beginning to open back up. The city council also put on a free concert with big dj's such as Alan Fitzpatrick as a thank you to everyone who got the COVID vaccine and for being so cooperative during the pandemic. It feels really good to have some normality in life again, being able to go out and have some fun after being locked in for so long.

Of course there are many more things that the city has to offer other than drinking and partying. There are many different shops and shopping centres in the city for you to go look around and spend some of the hard earned money you've been working for. There are also many sites to see such as the Titanic museum and various different murals on the walls as well as the peace wall located in the West. 

I was lucky to be able to travel home every now and then which allowed me to just fully relax and not worry about work. The problem with living at the hotel is that just by walking through the kitchen you can be dragged into conversations, or helping to look for different items. In one case I ended up going through paperwork and events for the coming week so that's why it's important to get out even for a walk around the city to get away from the work.

Welcome to the Culloden

 Hello everyone, it's Sam here, writing from the Culloden Estate and Spa in Holywood County Down, Northern Ireland. Before I arrived here I had been informed of an issue with my staff accommodation and whilst this issue was being fixed I was to be given a hotel room free of charge. This was when I first arrived here and now a month later I am still in this hotel room but I am not giving out about this. This however had caused some issues when I first arrived because the human resource manager forgot to pass the memo onto the manager working the day I arrived. 

Everyone I met on my first day were very welcoming and friendly as well as very helpful with the issues of not having a room. As the days went on I started to get to know everyone who worked in the hotel. The biggest problem with getting to know any of the other chefs I would be working with was that most of them were agency chefs meaning they could be gone at any time. There are currently only four full time chefs which includes myself. 

I have currently been placed into banqueting and functions meaning that I am part of a team ranging from two people to four who cater for a range of functions including weddings, school formals and meetings to name a few. As well as catering for these we are also in charge of menu tastings for future events which will take place in the hotel and we also cater smaller private functions which often have an a la carte menu opposed to a set menu. I have attached a few images of dishes I have done for smaller functions, these include a smoked duck and date puree starter, a smoked salmon and celeriac remoulade starter and then a simple raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake with a berry compote for dessert.

We host functions in three different suits, the Holywood, Stuart and Robinson and can hold any numbers up to three hundred people at a time. I am enjoying my time so far at the Culloden but I am hoping to move away from banqueting and into the fine dining side very soon.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Final Thoughts

As our time in The Netherlands is coming to an end, I feel sad but excited to be going home. Throughout our time in Eindhoven, we were quite lucky regarding Covid 19. We got to experience life back to “normal” as masks became a thing of the past (excluding public transport and hospitals) so that was nice but scary as we became so use to it the past two years. However, the lifting of most restrictions then caused problems later on and we were then suddenly immersed into a minor lockdown- meaning all non-essentials would have to close at 8 o’clock. This was not a major problem until the curfew was brought back to 5pm. This affected most of our social life as most places were not opened until 12pm then closed 4-5 hours later. It was also anxious not knowing if a full lockdown would be implemented and it felt that we were waiting for each announcement every Friday. Thankfully, it only affected our last month! 

We had an amazing time and got to experience moving to a new country with a great location. The Netherlands has such an apt location that you can visit any country via bus, train, or plane for an excellent price. Whilst in Eindhoven, we visited Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome Ciampino, Paris, London and flew back home once. If you do go to The Netherlands, I’d highly recommend this if you have the money as you won’t get the chance again. The workload in Fontys is minimal so it is a great opportunity to use your academic semester to your advantage! 


Finally, the college was interesting- it had a mix of multiple cultures and learning to get along with other cultures was an experience I won’t take for granted. The Dutch are quite direct, so getting use to this was challenging as for the majority- Irish people tend to beat around the bush. I believe this skill will stay with me for life as I begin my adventure into employment after college.

Thank you for reading and I hope to have offered some insight into living & studying in The Netherlands.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

The Craic in Coleraine 💫

 Hi lads, its been a while since I last wrote and oh my god so much has happened since then. Our student life in Ulster University has unfortunately come to an end, and with so many memories to take home. The course work involved picked up a lot since my last post. We finished our food product development project and ended with a final product to bring and present to the industry heads in a slightly nerve wracking PowerPoint presentation. We finished our Sensory Analysis Project along with carrying out our own analysis tests on our products and analyzing the data we received for our report . We also got the fantastic opportunity to work with a fabulous company called Chef in a Box developing healthier versions of their ready made meals designed for the elderly. I was on the mission of developing a vegetarian and vegan curry, which I was quite happy with the end result. 

We said goodbye to some fabulous friends that we lived with who were also Erasmus students from Switzerland and Germany, along with plenty of day trips to Derry for that ever so needed Penney's haul. They also have a huge O'Neill's that sell cheap jerseys (I got a Wexford one for £20) and would also highly recommend the Gate Bar and Bistro for some lunch and some fab cocktails. 

I also represented the University in Tetrathlon, which is a sport consisting of horse riding, shooting, swimming and running. It was an absolute blast meeting so many people from different colleges and universities across the country and will definitely be going back next year representing WIT. With a sports membership to the university you also get access to the gym on campus so that's also a win.

Several trips to Belfast have been involved aswell, going go see Jax Jones live in Limelight and the Belfast Christmas markets were highlights, along with some great spots for shopping. 

Overall,  I really enjoyed my experience in Coleraine. I made some really good memories with some fabulous people that I will remember for the rest of my days. Here's to even more memories as I plan to do my placement in the Ramore Complex down the road in Portrush so Coleraine isn't getting rid of me yet!

Christmas in Coleraine

 Hi everyone 

Coming to the end of the semester means the arrival of presentations, assignment deadlines and exams. We have one exam in January in applied sensory science and quality control with the focus being on the quality part of the module as the sensory science was covered in the finding report of the Finnebrogues meat-free sausages. Having already completed an exam worth 30 % in nutrition, the seven of us from Waterford had a different assignment that the rest to complete. Instead of doing practical classes with them, we got to work with ‘chef in a box’ to develop a healthier version of their g existing dishes for the elderly market. I worked on the mushroom stroganoff, in making the sauce consistency better as well as making it look nicer in the packaging, we made to put our research, modification and justification into a report that was sent back to them. The product development was graded based on the groups 6000-word report and our presentation. The panel really like my groups healthy fruit crumble bar and taught the level nutrition we were able to put in while it also remaining tasty was impressive.

Everywhere is decked out for Christmas, with the university putting up their Christmas tree in the main lobby and fairy lights hung all around the student accommodation office. The university made a real effort to make the environment as festive as possible with free hot chocolate, carols and a Santa run happening during this time when assignment deadlines are approaching. Sadly, due to the rise in covid cases the classes Christmas party/ lunches had to be cancelled as it wasn’t possible to organise a safe event.

Coleraine has lightened their tree although there was no real light ceremony due to stormy conditions, the town has a very Christmas feel to it with the blue/sliver colour scheme around the whole town as well as in Portrush and Portstewart. The lights made the are feel very warm and welcoming, while not being over the top and tacky. Sadly, even with the temperature being baltic up here, no proper snow fall came to us while here, there was a few flurries but nothing stuck. The festive feeling emulated in Derry city as well with their lights and massive beautifully decorated Christmas tree beside the glide hall where Santa was waving at everyone who passed. 

Signing off