Wednesday, 29 June 2022

International placement in Sant Marti de Tous, Spain II.

 

La Masia

Saint Marti de Tous Barcelona – Spain

La Masia is a well-run family farm run by Marti and he’s father, it has been in the family for over 500 years. Its main function today is all about crop rotation, ecological farming without chemicals or pesticides. The farm is surrounded by beautiful countryside and is full of history and local traditions.

In 2016 Marti decided to develop an Organic production of vegetables and fruits on 3 hectares off their land. The dream was to provide local produce to the community and restaurants in the area, which has been developed over the short years of its existence.

The Masia (farm) is located a one-hour drive from Barcelona, 45min’s from the beaches, 30 mins from the famous Montserrat’s Monastery built on mountain tops, 1hour 40min’s Andorra nestled under the Pyrenees and just 25min’s away is the local village.

The farm is very much a family run business, where you would meet Marti’s father who is also known as Marti, his mother and brothers visit the farm often they live in the local village.

When I got off the bus I was immediately greeted by this epic open and beautiful countryside, and it already felt like I had entered a different universe. A lift from Marti and I arrived at the farm, and I was giving a huge welcome from the hosts and the other volunteers, Jacques Billaud (France) and Alberto Calderas (Trujillo, Venezuela).

                      

Though Marti was not fluent in English, he was very good in communicating with me and my co-workers. He took his time explain the history of the farm and the hopes and dreams he had to develop and produce a very high standard of fruits and vegetables, which were being sold locally and as far away as Barcelona in Supermarkets.

I was informed beforehand that there’s limit Wi-Fi, so I imagined coming to the middle of nowhere and was thinking that I’m probably going to be alone most of the time and working hard. When I got here it’s not what I’ve been used to, but I’ve been loving the lifestyle and hard work.

Mainly, my day consisted of meeting Marti in the morning to receive our tasks. Marti would supervise, educated, and if we had any questions he would gladly answer. In the evening we would then meet to report on the day’s activities, and any situation that may have arisen and how they were resolved.

In farming practice does make progress. When I first tried to harvest spinach and other vegetables, it was a little bit tricky, but I eventually got the hang of it, and you get a lot more efficient at it as you get more practice. I had arrived at the farm when spinach, curly kale, and stem garlic were getting into its fullest bloom, so we always spend at least the morning harvesting and maintaining the crop.

Other fruit / vegetables that are harvest / maintained and agriculture tasks include:

  • Spring onions                                     
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Salad leaves
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Maintaining the fields
  • Seed saving / Germinating
  • Planting
  • Preparing orders for supermarkets and local customers


      

              

There was always something to do on the farm and when something needs to be done you just do it and it does not feel like you are on the clock, it doesn't feel like you are doing a job, it’s just a way of life here.

Another responsibility of mine was to look after the 70 hens. I would start off their morning by rolling up the front / back of their coop and opening the door so that they can head out into their fenced in porch and then I would collect their eggs.

Every day I would make sure that they would have fresh water and their organic corn / soy free feed. Then for the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon, I just let them forage for bugs and grass, finish up their feed and then in the early afternoon, I would bring them a bunch of food scraps that we harvest which include fruit and vegetables that are not suitable for the consumer.

During the spring when the sun sets, they like to stay out on their porch and so they love to go into bed around 20:00 or 20:30. I will then roll down each side of their coop and make sure that they’re looked up and secure for the night.

These tasks are just several different activities I endure throughout the day. I have learned a lot and I am still learning as every day passes me by. Time is going so fast and every day I am falling more in love with this way of life / lifestyle. More on my next blog!































Thursday, 23 June 2022

Farewell Slieve Donard


Hello everyone, Eimear here for the last time from the Slieve Donard hotel in Newcastle.

A lot has happened since my last blog post. As the summer approaches, Newcastle is now extremely busy with more and more people staying in the hotel. Since we last spoke, I had the opportunity to work in both the function section and the starter section in the main kitchen and this is something I really enjoyed. In the function section, I prepared, cooked, plated and served the food for the various events in the hotel such as weddings, conferences, communions, confirmations and birthdays. This is something I have never experienced before and I was delighted to get this opportunity. I got to work alongside Paulette and Hazel, the head chef.

In the starter section, I would prepare the food during the day until service started at 6pm. I came across many new ingredients during my time here such as Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi. I also prepared and cooked scallops, pickled vegetables and made Arancini.


 


Over the final few weeks of my time in Newcastle, I looked back on the experience I had and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.  Have been opened to learning new things and obtaining new knowledge. This is something that will benefit me in the future. I am now more confident and experienced when preparing, baking, cooking and working in a fast-paced environment. During my time here, I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and this has helped me to grow as an individual.



The Slieve Donard has an amazing team of chefs and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. From day one they welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. My mentor, Hazel, was there every step of the way during my work placement, she made me feel part of team Slieve from the beginning, pushed me to always do and this is something I will cherish and always remember. I could not have asked for a better mentor.

 

After my six months of work placement in the Slieve Donard, I made many friends who I will always keep in contact with. On my final week, we planned to go out for one last time together, we booked a lovely dinner in one of the restaurants, went dancing afterwards and had a few drinks.


 


I was very emotional on my last day in the Slieve Donard. It broke my heart to say farewell to all my friends and co-workers who I have been around for the last six months. However, this journey was now over and it was time to move back home. I am so thankful to have experienced this unforgettable opportunity and to say that I worked as part of Team Slieve.

 

I would highly recommend to any student to complete their work placement in the Slieve Donard. You will meet so many new people, make friends for life and improve your culinary skills. Everyone in Team Slieve is so friendly, kind and they are willing to help you to gain the most out of your work placement in any way they can. You will definitely not regret working with this incredible team of chefs in the Slieve Donard.


I know I will miss each and every person in Newcastle but it’s not goodbye forever, only for a short time.



Signing off

 

Eimear Dooley xx


Wednesday, 22 June 2022

# Goodbye Team Slieve!

Hi there, its April from the slieve Donard for the last time, 

A lot has happened since my last blog! I am happy to say that I got the experience being a pastry chef. I got to experience doing large numbers for buffets and weddings and designing lots of new dishes such as the chocolate moose that u can see here. Pastry was amazing, it was very technical, I learned that having patients goes a long way to. As of every other section, pastry had its own sequence of what to do first when you start your shift. For example, when I was working 8 – 4 shifts in pastry I would start of my shift by getting afternoon tea sheets, doing up cupcake boxes, cutting traybakes for the bar, and then preparing and plating afternoon teas.

 

As it is coming close to finishing my work placement I went out for dinner with friends, after dinner we went to Quinn’s for a few drinks and dance.  It was sad to think that all my friends that I have seen everyday for the last 6 months won’t be around as much, but they were excited to see where I ended up next. The Slieve Donard has an honourable team, a team who welcomed me, who made me feel comfortable, a team who praised me, a team who were friendly, and most importantly a team who made me apart of their family.


         


Other days leading to finishing, we did other fun activities when not working, like we went to the amusement park, went to the best ice cream shop in town, long walks along the promenade, and eat more food.

Our last day, it was emotional I was sad that I was leaving an amazing team and close friends, but I was also happy to get back home and start my new adventure. Eimear and I put together a chocolate hamper for team Slieve as a small thank you for everything they did for us. We also got Hazel (head chef) bouquet of flowers to show that she meant a lot to us and not just as a chef but as a friend and a mentor. Hazel seen good in me and pushed me always to do better.

A note for students coming on placement, I know that you won’t receive an Erasmus grant if you were to go to the Slieve Donard, but I am telling you, it is a great place to learn, you get to be apart of an amazing team who will guide you and help you expand on your skills. If you decided to go to the Slieve Donard I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.

I want to finish by saying I had an unforgettable work experience at the Slieve Donard Hotel. All the new skills that I learned will be with me forever and I can’t wait to share them with others. Thank you, team Slieve. I will be back.

April Hanrahan


Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Good bye PGA Catalunya!

 Hi Guys, It's Semeehat here again.

Today I am writing this blog post in sad but positive spirits. Does not make sense? yes, I know.

I am finishing my internship at hotel Camiral, and can I say, what an experience!

I am really sad to leave the 1477 family but I have learned so much that it makes me feel positive for the future. I have achieved my goals in terms of what I came to do. That was...

1. To learn more about myself and the direction of my career 

2. To Learn more about pastry and develop new skills

3. To make new friends 

4. To have lots of fun

and Last 

5. To enjoy the whole experience and let me say I crossed everything off.

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity and Pga will forever hold a place in my heart.

I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the career I am currently in. I made new amazing friends that helped me through a lot of hardship. I cried and I laughed. I had good days and there were bad days but it is an experience that I will never live to regret. 

Something to take back to Ireland with me would be that working at the restaurant helped me gain a lot of confidence. This is a result of the fact that I frequently had to stay alone. I was given the responsibility of overseeing minor events. This gave me a lot more confidence, which I believe I was seriously missing before. I came to understand that although I might not be as knowledgeable as others, everyone is traveling on their own road and has unique skills and weaknesses. I wasn't really sure where I stood in the realm of cuisine before this experience because everyone has their loves and dislikes. I could sit down after my placement and admit to myself that I do enjoy baking. 

My willpower definitely increased during my placement, I'd think. It became addictive for me to put in a lot of effort and smile when my tasks were completed. With this attitude, the day flew by because I was prepared for every day. The internship never once seemed to linger on my part. I never once looked forward to my internship coming to an end. I was inspired to persevere till the very finish even on the difficult days.

Well, guys, this is it, this is the end.

Thank you for coming on this amazing journey with me. 

Take care,

Semeehat over and out xx

















Tourism in Costa Brava

 Hi Guys, Semeehat here again.

Hope you are reading this in good health. As I mentioned before in my previous post, I am working in PGA Catalunya, in Girona. When Girona talked about it, the first thing to think of is the beautiful Costa Brava. PGA is located 20-25 minutes from the coastal side of Girona. 

I am yet to explore all of Costa Brava, but here are a few places I have visited in the beautiful Girona and Costa Brava!

Girona

Girona features a lovely historic Jewish neighborhood that is simple to explore on foot. There are numerous museums in the town center.  This area is wonderful for antique shopping and has a ton of charming taverns and eateries. Girona offers a variety of family-friendly tourism attractions. There are historical structures, botanical gardens, shopping malls, and a variety of outdoor sports.

Platja d'Aro

The municipality of Castell-Platja d'Aro includes Platja d'Aro. boasts more than two kilometers of coastline and a number of tiny bays that enhance its beauty. It is situated in the center of the Costa Brava. Hiking, BTT, and other outdoor activities are all very good in this beautiful setting.


Cadaques

One of the most distinctive villages on the Costa Brava is Cadaques. This distinctive quality has made it possible to maintain the attractive and small streets' original state. The village of Cadaques is entirely made up of white-washed buildings, and the city center is a historically protected area. It is simply incredible.

Begur 

Begur is situated adjacent to the Empordà's aircraft in the center of the Costa Brava. The castle, which occupies one of the several hills that characterize the town's undulating topography, is the dominant structure in the community. Some of the most stunning beaches and coves in this area can be found in this steep, natural terrain. Visitors can also take in the scenery along the coastal routes that connect Begur's beaches and coves.




Lloret de Mar

One of the most popular tourist spots on the Costa Brava in Lloret de Mar. Excellent beaches and coves are some of the main attractions, but Lloret is also quite popular due to its cultural offers, recreational activities, and diversity of water sports options.





I can't wait to explore more of the beautiful Costa Brava

Until my next post, stay safe 

Semeehat xx

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Saying Goodbye to Elephant Rock🐘

Now I am finally at the finishing hurdle of my placement, it feels like this semester has gone so fast. It only feels like yesterday I was packing to head back up north after Christmas to start work.
I have learned so much while working for the restaurant and have had the best fun. One token that I will carry in the future is to not take work too seriously as everyone makes mistakes, and try not to take criticism too personally as practice makes perfect.
I have also learned that you can also have fun and crack jokes while doing the work at hand and your work environment does not have to be too serious all the time. It builds up a good report with other staff within the kitchen and I can say I have made friends for life from my placement.
Since I last wrote the new menu us now fully operational. I am very happy with the sweets we now have on board as it allows me alot more creative freedom and I get to use my own recipes, which is always a win. One of the best days I've had in work was when all the lads that were in that day came together and we had a full on pastry experiment day as it was quiet and all the a la carte prep was done.
I have so many positives from my experience at Elephant Rock, as I got to see how every individual section of the business is run and having the experience in working in top level fine dining pastry. I have also loved my Overall experience in Northern Ireland, so much so that I have decided to stay up here for the summer and to come back after 4th year to attend Ulster Uni again and complete my masters.
All the best,
Eimear

Elephant Rock Chapter 2🐘

Hi guys, two months down at Elephant Rock now and a good few changes have happened since I last wrote. We now have two new prep chefs that have joined our team which has helped us out in leaps and bounds when it comes to our workload in a day.
 We also have a new general manager coming in who we are yet to meet, and to add to that we also have a new head chef. He specialised in pastry so it's really nice when it comes to creating new concepts for menus and specials to have someone who's on the same page. He also allows me alot of creative freedom and I am in the position now to do alot more old school type baking with the addition of traybakes being sold with coffees in front of house.
One thing I really like about life in Coleraine is that it is quite similar to home location wise, as I am the same distance from here to the beach as I am at home, and to add to the fact Im only am hour from Belfast so a day or big night out is never a miss, along with having some really good places to eat and shopping. 
Until next time,
Eimear