Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Truffles in Provence

Well it was lovely to get down to another part of France famous for its great food and wine. We arrived in Nice, well Tourrette sur Loup in fact, last Saturday having had a stopover in Avignon.  The Popes Palace, the theatre and old town walls were very impressive, (particularly the Palace bread oven and kitchen which had to roast 128 oxen for one Pope Clement VI's banquet in 1342!) , the town itself was full of history. The long drive had taken its toll and we were delighted to sleep and prepare for the next five days of gourmet cooking and eating at the famous Nice cooking school belonging to Arne Fusager and Birthe Sandager up in the hills of Cote D'Azur! What a week we had!!

Everything came with truffles including roast pork , scrambled eggs,  truffle risotto, slow roasted lamb, truffle ice cream, artichoke, veal fillet with apples, turbot soup, scallop souffle, orange cake,  smoked salmon, foie gras terrine and mouth watering creme caramel to name but a few of the delights. 
It was an truely amazing experience and I have now eaten more truffles than one normally gets (if they are very lucky) in a lifetime ! Arne took us out to see the truffle market at Aups and we were able to see a well trained dog actually dig trufles out of the ground!  These truffle dogs are very valuable and we are advised that in season (November to March) farmers protect their truffle fields (and dogs) with night patrols and rifles! 

During all this food preparation and consumption we tasted lots of wonderful wines and rose's and were briefed on the local varieties and specific grapes of the Provence region.  These included wines from Chateau  de Cremat, Chateau Sainte Roseline, Chateau La Canorgue (where the film director Ridley Scott shot his  film A Good Year ) and a Le Van which was absolutely delicious. 

All this took place high up in the hills overlooking the most wonderful medieval village of Tourrrette sur Loup with Nice and Cannes visible in the distance. We were surrounded by olive trees, rosemary and lavender bushes, mimosa trees in full bloom and the most wonderful tulips the size of which are rarely seen in Northern Europe! 

And how wonderful to come back home to Kerrouet yesterday  and to find that a local actor from the adjoining village of Plemet, Marion Cotillard (who starred in the Scott film mentioned above), has won a Oscar for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose!! Our hills are alive with the sounds of music!!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Cooking Holidays in France

Well the kitchen is almost completed now and it took a lot longer than we initially expected. With underfloor heating, old  stoves, French Windows and our own chef doing design work way above the michelin requirements, it has been a labour of love all the way! The photos will tell the tale but personally the best job we did was not the new roof on this old 16th century house with links to the Manor of Plessy down the road but the large new French patio doors in the north wall which gives the most amazing view of the valley and the forests at the rear of the property. Our students will have to concentrate hard on their creme brulee's if they are not to be beguiled by the breathtaking views from the kitchen window!

The school doors will open on June 16th offering weekly courses on a wide variety of French and international cuisine. We have already had lots of enquiries from the UK (Sussex, Surrey, Oxford Hampshire) and Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Cork Wexford) and the Channel Island of Jersey and further afield (Germany, Austria, Singapore and Namibia. There is an increasing number of holiday makers who wish not to lie on a beach all day but get involved with an activity vacation and what better activity than learning how to cook better and eat well while on holiday into the bargain! Our students tell us they want to gain skills in a holiday atmosphere mixing with like minded colleagues and making new friends at the same time. Our school will ensure that everyone gets quality time with our Michelin trained chef. Many cooking schools don't let their students get hands on experience but here at the Kerrouet School, we pride ourselves with small classes allowing everyone to get involved in preparing the food and this covers the whole range from basic kitchen skills, visiting  the best food markets in France, purchasing and product appraisal (essential for seafood, cheese, meat and vegetables). French cuisine and wines are world famous and here in Brittany we are within the centre of the best seafood and vegetable markets of France. Students will learn how to bake real bread (essential for healthy living), cook oysters, mussels, scallops, crabs, langoustines, seabass, turbot, sole, skate, monkfish, salmon, seatrout, and a whole world of beautiful and exotic dishes. Check out our website for a wonderful range of mouthwatering recipes which are about to unfold on