Monday, October 26, 2009

I am sending you this brief from Mary Cadogan who runs the cookery school, to whet your appetite if you are keen to go for a week (2 days in Paris and 4 nights at the cookery school.

Dear Jenny,
We are delighted to enclose details of your proposed Tasting France week-long adventure. Your holiday starts with a fully guided tour of the best foodie destinations that Paris has to offer including plenty of hidden gems away from the usual tourist trail. During your 2 night stay fabulous food shops, cookshops and markets will all be included in your visit. Memorable evenings will be spent soaking in the atmosphere and savouring the flavours of la vrai Paris in cosy bistros, accompanied by a glass or two of delicious French wine. Then after all the excitement of the city it’s time to head for the tranquillity of Les Noisetiers, our peaceful village house which will be your home from home for 4 nights . During your stay you will be cooking up a storm in our cookschool kitchen, honing your cookery skills and making dishes that you will want to make time and time again when you return home. This is a very hands-on cookery course and the emphasis is very much on locally sourced seasonal ingredients. I’ll be passing on lots of tips and tricks, and we will share the dishes you have made for lunch and supper. The trip also includes visits to local small producers, such as an artisan cheese maker, small Cognac producer, markets and one evening meal at a favourite local restaurant. You will also have time to relax beside the river Charente which flows through our garden, stroll around our pretty village or cosy up in the squashy sofas in our salon. We have an extensive cookery book collection which you are very welcome to browse through.

2 nights in PARIS including the following:
2 nights hotel accommodation based on 2 sharing a twin room
3 light lunches
2 evening meals with wine, venue chosen and booked by Mary Cadogan
Metro travel around Paris
Itinerary of visits to markets, food shops, cookshops etc organised and accompanied by Mary Cadogan

High speed train travel Paris- Angouleme- Paris

4 nights cookery course at Tasting France with Mary Cadogan including all accommodation, meals, tuition, trips to food producers and travel during your stay. One restaurant meal included during your stay. Take a look at the website for more detailed information on the itinerary.

PRICE 1,700 EUROS PER PERSON (1750 for la Riviere en suite room)

Mary Cadogan and Michael Rogers
Les Noisetiers
31 Avenue des Aveneaux
Montignac Charente
(0033) 545 37 61 27

Sunday, October 25, 2009

taken a pause

I realize that when one starts a blog you need to be adding to it regularly. I am not sure yet if there is an audience and so i suppose i dont feel i have to keep people enlightened each day. Well anyhow i have to put my food diary on hold as we are in the middle of major renovations. This is a picture of the Hind's Head, a pub owned by Heston Blumenthal. It is a stones throw from his famous Fat Duck in the village of Bray, an hour or so out of London. I was priveleged to have lunch at the pub with my Brother in Law Stuart. Amazing wonderful Chicken Pie and what was referred to as a Quaking Pudding. This is a wonderful free standing wobbly egg custard style dessert, which comes with its own little potted history. Well more later. I will resume my diary in a week or two. Sorry to those potential readers who are hanging on my every word !! (not)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The wonders of Paul My first day

I ordered a coffee and a spinach and salmon quiche. I immediately chatted to the manager (a young italian with braided hair) and told him where i was from and that he should know this was my favourite patisserie. He beamed and after a little chat left me to indulge in my first good meal since leaving home. I bought a few interesting cotton bags and thought (!!!) one of them would be good to bring any excess baggage back home!! Little did I realize what excess baggage I would be accumulating.
Finally after settling myself into the basement room (not quite as nice as the the one upstairs!) and saying farewell to Paul, who rode off on his bicycle, his t shirt and sandles slapping in the breeze, I plotted what i would do for the rest of the day.
Well i was up and down the high street getting to know my surrounds. These were such shops as Waterfords Book shop (bought a new indian cookery book and a novel), Gap (3 long sleeved t shirts), facial products (Molton Brown) and this all within the first 2 or 3 hours of having arrived!!.But what fun I was already having.
I returned to Trellis cottage and had a little rest (actually exhausted after the flight and excitement of being in London). Jean Wild (the resident owner) suddenly burst through the door. she is 70 ish, over tanned with wild grey hair. She is not a small woman. She bustled upstairs, and began squealing and squeaking over a broken lamp. The picture I had in my mind of a demure slim cultured woman was immediately shattered. She actually reminded me of an old bag lady and i couldnt reconcile the amazing art and artifacts in the house with this loud uncouth personality. She was a real character though and we were to have a few laughs while I was there.
Hungry I ventured out again to a place which Jean recommended (?) called Cage Imaginaire. It seemed to be a delightful little French Restaurant (soft candlelight,french music, white table ware) down a cobbled road near to my cottage. I seemed to be the only person eating there, which seemed very strange especially as I was alone. The manager was a very pleasant young man. However he seemed to think I wanted company and hung around chatting. Eventually I was left to write in my diary and contemplate my surrounds. I was hoping my dover sole meunier was going to be fresh and tasty. But it wasn't. It was not fresh and was drowned in butter and large chunks of parsley. I did mention that it wasn't fresh but was assured it was!! I wasnt in the mood to argue. The dessert, caramelized bananas in crepes, was pleasant if not a marvel of tastes. Coffee o.k.
I concluded that this little place was really a tourist trap. 1 other table was occupied!
I walked back to the cottage (feeling quite safe to walk about alone at night) and retired for the night.

Still my first day

The lady of the house is not there, but fellow called Paul, is there to help me through the front door of what appears to be a gorgeous, quaint cottage. Loads of wonderful art,books, antiques fill me with awe. I cannot wait to meet the owner of all this magic. She must surely be a cultured older excentric personality!!. She will be back from France the next day I am told.

I discover I am in limbo for a couple of hours as the designated room has been given in error to two other people and they are busy moving. Paul hands me a cup of tea and a slice of toast. He is a small effeminate man with the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights about him. He is terribly sweet and after a small meaningless chat I go off for a well earned bath, change into some fresh clothes and hit Hamstead While i wait for me room under the stairs to be vacated.

I remember reading in travel guide that there is one of my favourite patisseries in Hamstead called Paul (no relation to the aforementioned). Well as you guessed from that comment, yes I hurried past various shops and leafy streets until I found it. Yes there it was so styish. Black outside and inside all the wonders of the pastry world, were laid out just as i had remembered. Croissants, pain de chocolate, apple pastries (sorry run out of french), fruit tarts of all kinds. Long baguettes filled with all manner of delicious savoury treats. Small quiches with delectable fillings. Breads of all looks and descriptions. This was to be my breakfast room for the next 7 days, give or take one or two.

My food adventures in Europe 2009 . My first day

Where to begin? Do I say how I wasn't feeling well and was very apprehensive before I left. Do I mention that I was on the verge of cancelling the whole holiday through fear of tummy trouble while on the plane? Or do I just say how wonderful the whole holiday was and how I felt well, my tummy behaved (bless it)and get on with the fun interesting news.

Well there was a 18 month baby next to me, and the flight was not great. The Babe behaved quite well (he slept across me and his mum)and i felt like a saint because I told the lovely British Mum that I had been in her position and that she mustn't stress. She loved me for that, the baby was happier and we all flew merrily into the blue yonder!!!.

After grabbing my one bag (on wheels!!) and my little blue ruck sack (no handbags for me) with it little blue monkey (secretly that's what made me buy it) I was out of customs and into the main hall at Heathrow. A few queries later and I had purhased my oyster card for a week, which would enable me to take trains and buses within a certain radius of London central. I was helped again with the information I needed to board the correct train to Hamstead, and with my underground map tucked firmly into my little blue rucksack (l.b.r) I sallied forth to Trellis Cottage (my home for 7 days ).

As i got out of the underground station i realized i had hit gold. Wonderful upmarket high street, loads of leafy streets, beautiful homes and a village like air about the place. I trundled my case down some lovely little cobbled lanes and finally found Trellis cottage. There it was right opposite Ye Olde White Bear Pub. All extremly picturesque and quaint in a English Villagy kind of way!!