Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dance of Death, 11 Apostles and an Irish Prince all in one little chapel

Students often ask me what is there to see and do in Brittany when not cooking in the kitchen. I usually refer to the astonishing beauty of the Briton coastline, or the medieval splendour of ancient towns and villages but rarely do I think of churches! Well that is a big mistake as I recently found out by my trip to the little 13th century Chapel of Kermaria An Isquit  located just six kilometres from the town of Plouha in northern Brittany and only about an hour's drive from our cooking school.  This little chapel deserves to be nominated for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site for its breathtaking frescoes of the Dance of Death visible along both sides of the nave and painted between  1483 and 1501.



The chapel is thought to be the work of Henry of Avaugour and other Lords of Goelo who wanted to show their gratitude to the Virgin Mary after returning home safely from their crusades in the Holy Lands in 1240. The first building dates from the 13th century includes the first four spans of the nave and the side aisle.  It was promoted by the monks of the Abbey of Beauport and expanded as it became an important place of pilgrimage with further expansion in the 15th and 17th centuries. The visitor enters through a Gothic porch where amazing original wooden sculptures of the 12 apostles stand either side as you enter the chapel.  Sadly one statute (of St Luke) was stolen from the collection in 1907 and has never been found. More worrying is that there are signs of woodworm in some of the sculptures so they do need proper maintenance and security if they are to last for future generations to enjoy.



However it is the Danse Macabre or Dance of Death which draws most visitors to the chapel. This is an extraordinary collection of frescoes which were only discovered in the middle of the 19th century by Charles de Taillard one of the original descendants of the lords who owned Kermaria since the 16th century! In fact it was the discovery of the frescoes in 1857 which saved the chapel from demolition. These frescoes were initially inspired by the Dance of Death painted in Paris in 1424 under the arcades of the cloister of the grave of the Satin Innocents, reproductions of which were widely circulated throughout Europe.






The thirty figures which are holding hands represent living persons of all ages and all classes but separated by emaciated cadavers who put a rhythm into the dance. Here is some further information:





There is so much more to see here that I suggest you visit at 3pm in the afternoon when you can avail of a very knowledgeable guide to show you around (the chapel is open from 10.30am to 12 noon and 3pm to 5pm each day).



Initially I assumed this little fellow was St George with his dragon but I have been reliably informed and that he is St Michel et le dragon!  You can also see him at Le Mont St Michel which is another great trip to make one day!

I was intrigued to note the commemoration to St Maudez with the tiny Irish harp in the little stained glass window on the left side of the alter.  This Irish prince had visited Brittany in the 6th century and gives his name to both the island of Maudez (near Ile de Brehat) where he built a monastery and the commune of St. Maudez in Cotes d'Armor.










Saturday, 13 August 2016

Latest Review


Of all the culinary courses you have arranged for me, this was quite simply
the best so far. From the small class size to the very, very hands on
preparation to the sheer amount of recipes we learned to blend together from
scratch including lessons on presentation and proper table setting to the
simply sublime flavors of each and every dish--appetizers to desserts and
everything in between. There really was no dish I did not enjoy! Throw some
amazingly refreshing cocktails in that mix, too! As that is how Poul started
every dinner. I have already replicated some of these new dishes back in
Hawaii to the gratification of many sated stomachs!!

Both Poul and Niall were friendly and accommodating at all times. Meal
conversations were varied and interesting and very international. Definitely
as much fun as the classes themselves.

I will definitely pass the word on to friends and will hope I get to come
back again one day in the future.

Aloha,
Lia H August 2014

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

“What's not to Love!!!! cooking & eating in la belle Bretagne!”


 
May 30, 2016
monimitc (1 review)
Toronto, Canada
Fun! Fun! Fun! My week at the French Dining School in Brittany was extraordinaire! The setting, a restored country house in a tiny Breton village, is truly a piece of heaven. Combine that with a great cooking/learning experience, followed up with wonderful, convivial dining along with afternoons exploring the environs, and you've got a recipe for success!

Poul & Niall are generous, welcoming hosts who put us all at ease right from the start and their delightful dog, Scooby, was for me the icing on the gateau!

A truly memorable respite from Real Life! 

Monica/Toronto

Friday, 27 May 2016

Trip Adviser Award

We are delighted to have received the doll award from Trip Adviser. Thank you to all our students who made it possible. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Culinary life

Lobster 
Beef Wellington 


Kerrouet House

New graduates 

Gastronomical awards 

Globe singers

St Malo water glasses

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Walking the dog around Kerrouet

Scoobeaudoo needs at least two good walks a day. Actually he prefers to run and that is another story! It's a busy morning at the school as we have six very enthusiastic Norwegian students attending our cooking course. Norway is too cold for harvesting nettles so they have requested a foraging tour here as nettle soup is on the menu for lunch followed by white asparagus with sauce hollandaise. 


Pot of nettles

The final product 


The locals harvest everything and so it is a common sight to see sheaves of old Fuchsia drying out in the hedgerows. This will be used to get the fires started with the lovely perfumed smell of fuchsia.

 

It's a lovely time of the year with all the flowers bursting out. Here a a few photos but now I have to return to the kitchen!







The students also cooked a Parmesan soufflĂ© 

Which wend down very well with a few glasses of rosĂ©. Dinner this evening was a nice combination with Langoustins for starters 

And rabbit in a mustard sauce with fennel green beans and new potatoes 

And following the cheese board we finished with home made poppy seed ice cream with caramelised strawberries!!