Thursday, 17 October 2013

River Cottage day

With the starting of the new River Cottage series last night (wasn't it great), I thought I'd write about the day I had at River Cottage HQ last summer (Aug 2013)!

As a wedding anniversary present my husband and I went. It was also a welcome day out without the kids for the 1st time in 4 years, yes, FOUR years!! I love River Cottage and what it stands for too, and I've watched all the series, so where better to do a cookery course?! Plus, being a mum, I'm always wanting to feed my munchkins the best food and embed in them a love of cooking. I thought this would inspire and equip me a little better.

So the day of the cookery course arrives and I think "are the kids going to be good", "did I pack enough lunch for them", "are we leaving home early enough", "will it be worth the money", "will it be fun too", "what should I wear"?????...

Well, yes yes yes. We had a fabulous day with like minded people :o). After our arrival by tractor, down the hill from the car park, and after our welcoming snack awaiting us of scrambled egg on toast with a hot cuppa, we cooked four dishes.

Our Chef for the day was Andy, and working with him was Chef Leon. They were excellent teachers, they didn't talk too fast , they were very encouraging and made the day informative and interesting, as well as fun. The first meal we made was a "snack" of pigeon on polenta. This was delicious, even if I did make it my self , and we even had fresh flowers on our tables to add to the experience! I've not eaten pigeon before. It gave my husband and I the confidence to try cooking it at home.

We then made a starter of home-made bread, minestrone soup with home-made pasta, fresh veggies picked from the River Cottage garden. We followed this up with mackerel and greens, and then finished with blackcurrant ripple ice cream, yum!

I've never made from scratch before. it was surprisingly easy and really good fun. we were allowed our own artistic license to design our pasta shapes. ..I think I still need a little practice as bows and twists were rather chunky!! still tasted great though!

The mackerel came as a whole fish we needed to fillet. I've never really realised what a beautiful looking fish it is until we saw 20 of them ready to be used, all glistening and shining. Andy showed us how to go about the filleting and advised us on freshness of fish, knives, sharpening and obviously kitchen safety. It was a very open atmosphere where you could ask questions.

The desert was fun to make. We all made our own custards , joined forces and created one big batch of ice cream using River Cottage blackcurrants. The ice cream was DIVINE! The best I have ever tasted, so smooth , creamy and fruity.

We had such a fun time, cooked loads, ate loads and made nice friends. We even got a chance to look around the River Cottage site, meet the chickens, and go inside the house/veg garden for ourselves :o).

I would definitely do another course there. In fact whilst we were there there was a meat curing course too, that smelt and looked amazing, so I might have a go at that at our next big anniversary!! I am cooking more with the kids and being more adventurous in my own cooking now, also going for fresh and made from scratch more often as it tastes SOOOO much nicer doesn't it?!

I suppose the only grumble I would have was that the wine with the meal, (you could order wine if you wanted to go with your meal), actually arrived after we had finished eating! Also, i would perhaps prefer to have the handouts at the start of the day so you know what bits to take notes on, and what bits are already written down for you. other than that it was a great day out.

If you fancy a River Cottage course then take a look at their site.

How about you? Have you been on any cookery courses? Did they inspire you? Would you recommend them?



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