Last week a lovely mix of over fifty bloggers descended on River Cottage on the Devon/Dorset border for an evening of festive cooking demonstrations, networking and fun! With a Cookery and Chefs’ school plus an organic working farm, River Cottage really is one of the most peaceful places anywhere!
The air was prickling with excitement as the bloggers made their way down to the farm the only way possible…in a carriage pulled by a very large tractor. Thrill seekers loved the very bumpy and it is a very bumpy ride but all part of the fabulous adventure.
As well as offering thirty-five different courses including fishing, bread-making, beekeeping, preserves, foraging and many more at the cookery school they also offer unique dining experiences and events. You can even get married at River Cottage.
There are also four Canteens, award-winning restaurants and delis based in the South West in Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth and Winchester.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster established River Cottage HQ in Dorset in 2004, now based at Park Farm near Axminster in Devon and has recently launched River Cottage Chefs’ School. What an amazing place to learn new skills.
Senior Chef Andy Tyrrell gave a lively demonstration on curing meats in preparation for Christmas, focusing on the Christmas turkey, have you ever thought of brining your turkey in gin? The brine for the Christmas ham included copious amounts of good quality cider, and we also went away knowing how to make homemade bresaola, a red wine base for this one!
After tucking into bresaola, brined lemony chicken (divine) and for vegetarians roasted carrot hummus on gluten free bread, the bloggers split up for some networking. One group discussed blog collaborations in the farmhouse, and the other group took part in our very own ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ moment. In the River Cottage yurt a roaring fire, twinkling lights and bunting kept bloggers warm and cosy from the rain lashing down outside, whilst bravely putting their hands into boxes to guess the contents by touch only. There were a few squeals at some of the sticky items (dates), and a prize for the winner, Amy- The Devonshire Woman, who was one of only two people to guess the fruits and vegetables correctly!
Then it was on to more socialising and the food! Wonderful canapes included pork and leek croquettes, pickled mussels, and crispy rabbit on a romanesco purée as well as a Kingston Black apple aperitif which had a very big kick, in a nice way of course.
As was to be expected the food was out of this world, celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and leaves, followed by River Cottage cider brined ham, carrot purée, fried savoy cabbage and braised beans. Vegetarians had a parsnip and potato rosti with poached egg. The meal was finished off with honeycomb créme brulée with apple purée and apple crisps as well as petit fours. The tractor on the way back up must have been straining at the extra full tummies after that feast.
Follow more adventures from the River Cottage Christmas event, including recipes to make your very own gin infused Christmas turkey and homemade bresaola in the posts below:
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