Winter at River Cottage
River Cottage is an experience and after the power-packed day, I spent there last year with Foodies 100, I couldn’t turn down an invitation to go back this year.
Thankfully, my friends and I managed to find rooms at the same gorgeous B&B which we stayed at last year, Millwater House run by Tim and Ruth. This year in addition to maintaining very clean rooms, a stunning reception, and dining area and a massive back garden complete with a green-house they also built a makeshift disco in a barn and kept the signage as a memory and a huge rack to grade and store the excess supply of apples from the many fruit-laden trees that dot the driveway.
Last year thanks to Heidi’s husband the very kind Mr. R, we ( Tina, Nayna and I ) managed to go see the beach at Lyme Regis and explore the beautiful town and even have a fabulous dinner at one of the best sea-food places in town.
This year though we spent our extra day off, window-shopping and shopping for props.
Unlike last year, when we had brilliant sunny weather and had a farm tour, kitchen garden tour, a fabulous baking session in the superb teaching kitchen and not to mention some cracking blogger training sessions, this year gave us an opportunity to really connect with other bloggers. We had a brainstorming session where everyone shared their tips for increasing social media following to scheduling blog posts and collaborating.
The main hall at River cottage was decorated with pretty flowers and pumpkins of all shapes and varieties of adorned tables. It could have been a setting for a dreamy country wedding.
We were given an insight into brining of meat and vegetables and I managed to learn a few great tricks.
Though I did enjoy spending some time in the huge yurt and loved how toasty and warm it is inside with the fireplace, but of course, the best part was the fantastic festive dinner.
We started off by enjoying eating some of the fantastic sharing platters with pork and leek croquettes with a tamarind and green tomato chutney, goats cheese, beetroot, honey and fennel on impossibly thin crispbread, mussels served with a scattering of finely chopped red onion and a few other gorgeous dishes.
For starters, we were served celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and leaves – what an absolutely satisfying dish this was. I craved an extra portion …alas, it was not to be 😉
River Cottage brines and cures their own meats of course, as they use natural ingredients versus the nitrates used in commercial varieties. For my main course, I enjoyed some succulent ‘fall off the bone soft’ River Cottage pork, brined in cider served on a bed of carrot puree, fried savoy cabbage, and braised beans. Probably the only time I have felt like asking for helpings of cabbage;)
The dessert was a perfectly formed honeycomb crème brûlée served with apple puree, the puree had a really sharp taste though. The best part was of the dessert were these divine wafer-thin apple crisps.
I am so glad I wore layers and purchased a fab new pair of warm gloves before we made our way to the farm. It was a very cold evening and a crazy tractor ride to and fro to the farm was just one of the things that made the evening really fun.
I am not entirely certain whether I feel brave enough to cure or brine meat on my own though, but I am certainly hoping I can go back to River Cottage sometime soon to pick up some more kitchen skills.
This wonderful experience also reminded me of the past events organised by Foodies 100 and one such was a Blog Camp at Birmingham. I was only in Birmingham for a day but would love to go back and properly explore the city especially the food scene there. Meanwhile, my fellow blogger has written an interesting blog post about her visit to Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Centre with her children, do check it out if you need ideas of day trips out ideal for families.
*With thanks to Foodies100 for organising such a Christmas Lunch and the talented team at River Cottage for an unforgettable experience. As always all opinions expressed are as always my own. No incentive was provided for a positive review.