Monday, 21 November 2016

Christmas Brine Course and Christmas Feast at River Cottage Axminster

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A few weeks back when I saw an opportunity to visit River Cottage HQ Axminster, I jumped at the chance! Through Foodies 100, River Cottage kindly invited around 50+ food bloggers to the HQ for an exclusive bloggers' Christmas Dinner and I could not contain my excitement when I received the email. I composed a swift reply and hit the Send button without any further thought.

Since I started watching River Cottage cookery programme by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall on Channel 4, I have tried many recipes over the years and also become quite a big fan of some of them such as Noodles and Peanut Salad and Parsley Walnut Pesto Pasta. My family love his vegetarian recipes, healthy and at the same time, delicious.

As soon as I knew that my place was confirmed to visit River Cottage, I booked my returned train tickets early as possible to avoid any disappointment later, Taxis and Nettle Bank B&B for one night stay, which is located in the breathtaking natural surrounding area of Uplyme, not far from River Cottage HQ.

So after double checking on everything, I did a bit of research on River Cottage and the surrounding area and found out that not only was I visiting the place where River Cottage is filmed but where you can take part in many different cookery courses.


So on the actual day, I arrived at the River Cottage HQ at 3:30 pm and what a spectacular and picturesque view from the top of the farm! I joined a bunch of like minded people and enjoyed a bumpy and fun ride in a tractor from the car park down to the hill to the River Cottage.


When we arrived, we were greeted with hot beverages, juice and vegetarian drop scones and had a chance to mingle with bloggers who travelled from all over. Before all the major activities started we had a chance to explore the gardens, the iconic farmhouse and kitchens. It started drizzling, so sadly I didn't get a chance to take many pictures.


The first session was seated in a converted barn, the Christmas Brining Course,  demonstrated by one of the senior chef Andy Tyrell, the session was about the brining, how to brine various meat for Christmas with basic natural ingredients at home without adding chemicals that no one can even pronounce!!  Being a vegetarian, this wasn't very helpful to me but as a enthusiastic learner and a foodie, it was something new for me explore. But chef Andy did not disappoint us vegetarians and told me that not only meat, fish or cheese can be brined, but vegetables work equally well too, such as radish, cauliflower, carrots and courgettes. After the brining session while non veg treated with Bresaola, we vegetarians were delighted to sample Roasted Carrot Hummus on Gluten free toasted bread, my taste buds were dancing. Obviously , I asked for the recipe and happy chappy Andy gave me the recipe for it. I will definitely going to make this this hummus very soon, watch this space!

After this informative session, we were divided into two groups for networking we had an opportunity to meet new bloggers, they did share the ideas and knowledge with us and also had chance to play a game in the yurt.

And after all that fun, it was time for a treat, we were treated with delicious Christmas feast, prepared by River Cottage chefs and catered for every dietary need, vegetarian, gluten free, non-vegetarian and sugar free.

While we were munching on our canapes and chit chatting, Sam, one of the chefs at River Cottage explained to us about our menu for that night. We were also told that at River Cottage create a menu on the same day depending on what is available to them locally and organically.

There were copious dishes and course served to all of us to whet our appetite, but let's see what an incredible vegetarian menu they created for me as my dietary need is bit awkward to explain. I am vegetarian, but do not eat eggs or fish. Oh boy, they delivered!



First, we were served Kingston Black Apple Brandy (I did not have any)

Canapés
  • Roasted Carrot hummus on rye bread
  • Whipped Goat Cheese and Beetroot marinated in cider vinegar 
  • Little Cheese on toast bites with Piccalilli  
  • Baked and Fried Blue Cheese, mushroom and leek croquettes with date and green tomato chutney  
  • Merguez spiced romanesco with romanesco puree 
First Course - Starter 
  • Beetroot hummus with roasted red onions and beetroots with a tahini-based dressing topped with toasted seeds and fresh leaves from the garden.  

Main Course

  • Parsnip and Potato rosti with shavings of goat cheese, carrot puree and savoy cabbage fried in butter and garlic. It was accompanied with smoky haricot beans cooked with fennel, onion and tomato.

Dessert

  • Apple tart served with apple puree, apple crisp and apple treacle and rye crumble . 
Dinner was followed by coffee and two petit fours, there were a dark chocolate orange truffles and dark chocolate oat biscuits, just had enough time to sample these and in hurry had a tractor ride up the hill to car park, and headed back to my B&B with so many wonderful memories which once again were woven around food. 

Thank you to River Cottage for creating a truly magical evening, fabulous high-quality menu and hospitality, surely one day I would love to visit this wonderful place with my family. 

Thank you, Foodies 100 for arranging this event free for us, but travel and accommodation were paid by myself. I was not told or paid to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


Because I was travelling all the way up to Devon, why wouldn't I take advantage of seeing some spectacular places in East Devon?! My B&B owner Sue helped me to plan my visit to Lyme Regis, a place that can be visited in all seasons. An ancient town on the Jurrasic coast which is a worlds heritage site and boasts breathtaking scenery.




It is quaint with history, housing the historic cobb and the harbour where the film 'The French lieutenant's wife' was filmed. I was so surprised to see a working watermill, reaching back 700 years in time! It is a must visit, and I'll take my family down there one day too!


 Thank you for stopping by and reading this post ! We hope to see you again soon :)

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