You may remember last year when I came home raving about River Cottage after spending a day there with Foodies100. Thankfully, they hosted another event this year, but this time it was an evening event filled with blogger networking, cookery demos and of course, a delicious three course meal with canapes, amuse bouche and petit fours to boot!
This blog post gives you a little bit more information about River Cottage, after all it’s not just where they film the TV series. They have a whole lot to offer, and a brilliant ethos around food too. I’ll also show off (lots of) my photographs to give you an idea of what it’s like there.
River cottage HQ is based in Axminster, on the Devon and Dorset border. This is where they film the TV series, offer a cookery school for chefs as well as courses for foodies like myself. As with our visit, they are also pretty good at hosting both corporate and celebratory events such as weddings! (I would love to get married there).
Not to get confused with their Canteens, which are their restaurants based in the South West. In Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth and Winchester.
What resonates from every aspect of River cottage from the decor to the food, is that they are very passionate about local, organic and ethically sourced produce. From home reared Oxford sandy and black pigs, to locally foraged vegetables and decorations made from dried local wild flowers. It all flows naturally, and they are well connected with local producers too. You leave there feeling like their ethos is something you really want to aspire to, which ties in with the numerous campaigns headed by Hugh Furnley-Whitingstall from ‘free-range’ chickens to saving our seas from over fishing. Alas, we are yet to meet Hugh! Maybe next time?!
The journey down to river cottage is always fun, on a large trailer pulled by a hefty tractor!
We arrived to warm drop-scones with apple puree and yoghurt, and some much needed teas and coffees. We then had a few moments to do some blogger networking and run around the grounds getting photographs while the light was still good!
Even though it was late October, and and the garden wasn’t as full as in summer they still had some lovely vegetables and flowers growing. This is a very important part of the River Cottage ethos, they are certified organic, and source as close to home as possible.
We then sat down for a demo by senior chef Andy Tyrrel. He was great at giving the demo, funny and down to earth. I can imagine it must be nice to get involved in the cookery courses with staff like that.
We learned about brining, which I have never attempted before! But one thing is for certain, I will definitely be brining my Turkey for Christmas, and am even going to have a go at making my own ham from a leg joint of pork. I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!
We got to sample bresaola made from silver sides of venison and beef, which is a great way to prepare the somewhat tougher cut such as the silver side. Andy made it look so easy, but it did look like a great way to use up silver side and also impress family with a home made selection of cured meats to have along with some cheese and crackers.
We also sampled delicious lemon brined chicken, which was super tender. Andy explained that the act of brining helps plump up the meat cells with water, so that the meat stays more tender. If the chicken was anything to go my I can not wait to try it on my Turkey this year.
We then broke off for some blogger sessions. Blogging can be a dichotomous thing, on the one hand it is very lonely as we blog from home behind a computer screen with no real interaction. But on the other hand it is driven by social media and blogger events so you get to socialise with people you would never usually come across. For this reason events like this are so good. It helps to put faces to names and inspires you to get together with other bloggers and be creative. We had this session in the cosy cottage, and Yurt.
After all that learning and networking it was high time for some food. We were absolutley spoiled for choice, not all our food is featured in this post as there was so much of it! There were also delicious vegetarian and gluten free dishes being served.
To whet our appetite we were treated to a glass of Kingston Black apple aperitif, which was like a mixture between cider and sherry. It was very nice indeed.
We had locally caught mussels with apple and red onion, shredded rabbit with capers and romanesco puree, and pork croquettes just for canapes and an amuse bouche!
This was followed by a starter of home grown celeriac ravioli, with wild mushrooms. This is my idea of vegetarian heaven! Mushrooms and celeriac have to be two of my favourite vegetables, and served as ravioli too?! It was delicious!
Next was home-reared ham, glazed with honey and mustard, carrot puree and savoy cabbage. This had a sticky almost chewy outside, which gave way to the most tender pulled pork style ham. They had cut and cooked the savoy cabbage to retain it’s shape too, in lots of butter! Yes please! It was also served with smokey beans as a side dish.
For dessert we had honeycomb creme brulee, with apple crisp, apple puree and stewed apple crumble. This didn’t last long at all. The honeycomb flavour to the creme brulee was absolutely awesome.
We were served not one, but two petite fours. There was a dark chocolate orange truffle and a dark chocolate biscuit. Alas I was like Cinderella by this point and had to dash off to our taxi with fellow bloggers Miss Pond and Free From Farmhouse.
Two things in particular that left me wanting were these gorgeous cups and crockery, and also their new book River Cottage A-Z, which is like a compendium of recipes around their favourite ingredients.
I had a wonderful evening at River Cottage, the event itself was free via Foodies100, but travel and accommodation were paid for by myself. I would thoroughly recommend River Cottage for cookery classes, events the lot!
I'm Lisa and this is the Lovely Appetite blog. I’m always experimenting with recipes, hunting through cookbooks for inspiration or trying out new places to eat. Please browse the site and enjoy reading about my findings.