Tuesday 12 March 2013

Fairtrade Fortnight

I am glad that Fairtrade Fortnight is over.  I have not been home in an evening for about 3 weeks.  In Clackmannanshire, we had a visit from a Palestinian Fairtrade olive grower, a Guatemalan fairtrade coffee producer and we ran a Savour the Flavour, African cooking demonstration.
Taysir Arbasi from Palestine came to Alva on Friday 22nd when we showed the film The People and The Olive at No 140 in Alva.  A poor turnout, but we will show the film again at the MacRobert cinema on 18th June.

On Tuesday 5th March, Douglas Eloan Recinos Lópe, a Guatemalan coffee grower and Chairman of Fedecocagu, a co-operative of 19,354 small coffee growers, visited the Co-operative store in Alva, then on to the store in Bridge of Allan and finally on to Forth Valley College's Gallery restaurant for lunch.
In the evening of the Tuesday, I hosted a cookery demonstration at Resonate Arts House in Alloa.  Until 2.30 in the afternoon, it looked as if I was to be the one cooking as well as hosting it!
Fortunately, Stuart Hall of Forth Valley College pulled the kitchen staff out so that we could thank them after lunch.  He then asked if any of them would like to give a cookery demonstration that evening.  They all examined their shoes initially until a wonderful woman, Bernie Syme, volunteered and she press-ganged a fellow student, Neil Reid into helping her.
They were great!  Entertaining, efficient and educational , they produced the food which was appreciated greatly by the audience.  I am pleased that I did not have to demonstrate the cooking, although...
 Part of the food served were palmiers made from puff pastry and guava jam and shortbread biscuits made with macadamia nuts.  I made these on the Sunday before.  I have NEVER baked before!  One of the tables gave me 20 out of 10 for the biscuits.  Made my night!
I spoke to Alva Academy 1st & 2nd Year assembly and to Primaries 4, 5 and 6 at Craigbank Primary School.  I ran a Fairtrade themed Art competition for schoolchildren, wrote articles for newspapers and squeezed in lecturing and other activities as well

Scotch Whisky Trail Certificate course

Last night was the final week of the last running of the Scotch Whisky Trail Certificate course.  The Good Spirits Company is proving to be an excellent venue for it.
This class was a maximum attendance of 23, although only 20 sat the exam last night.  Good scores, everyone passed (as it is a leisure course, I'm not sure that anyone should fail, but we will see).  The poorest score last night was 55%, with the highest being 83% and the average being 69%.  And one student, Ian Hutchison, got a full 100% in the blind tasting; this is the first time in 15 years of running the course that anyone has done that.  The three whiskies were High Commissioner, Auchentoshan Select and Laphroaig 10.
Despite the course running at what is now The City of Glasgow College for 13 years, feedback forms were never a part of the package.  I inaugurated them in the courses which I ran in the autumn of 2012 and I must say that the responses have done great things for stroking my ego!
One thing which has come out of them is that a couple of this course's responses and one from the autumn's have said that the course is more advanced than they thought that it was going to be.  I refer to this course as the "entry level course", so perhaps I will look at being less informative/technical at least for the first couple of weeks.  I know that the course has evolved quite a bit from its first running back in 1999 because of a few of the students having been serial students (one has been on the entry level course six times!) and my adjusting the content to give them something extra.
Another thing which has come out of this batch of feedback is the timing of the distillery visit.  My thinking behind it has always been that they do 6 weeks of classroom study, then a distillery visit to bring everything together and then the exam on the last week.  Perhaps I should fit the distillery visit in around week 3 after they have done malt whisky production in week 1 and grain whisky production and the blend in week 2.  Food for thought before the next course starts on September 16th.