Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wine Tasting with Romain Bertrand

What a wonderful thing coincidence is! This is especially so when a wine merchant arrives at your door uninvited carrying some of the best wines of France in his briefcase and offering a free wine tasting opportunity. It was day four of the cooking course and one of our students had just asked our chef and sommelier, Poul, minutes earlier, whether he ever offered wine tasting sessions! Romain arrived in the door just as the question had been asked and gave us a delightful introduction to some of the extraordinary wines of the Roussillon region. This area, close to Spain, with long hours of sunshine and a unique earth, was recognised by Greeks, Romans and Knights Templar as excellent for wines long before the French categorised the wines of Banyuls in 1936 when it was certified by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (INAO), making Banyuls a controlled origin appellation. Cellier des Templiers offers a broad range of fine wines: 19 Banyuls and Banyuls Grand Cru, 15 Collioure wines and one fine Banyuls Vinegar. Whether you’re a wine professional or simply a wine enthusiast, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. We certainly did starting with a deliciously rich rosé wine and working our way through to the sweet stront reds for which Banyuls have become world famous.

Banyuls and Collioure wines are forged by the sea, mountains, sun and wind and are, above all, wines for pleasure. Exposed to a generous climate, the vines yield expressive, consummate wines that are rich, powerful, elegant and distinguished. They express all the warmth of the sun and the ruggedness of the schistose soils through the grape that reigns supreme in this region, Grenache.
Step inside the world of the fine wines of Banyuls and Collioure.

What a striking contrast between this environment, which seems to endure so much, and the generous, rich and powerful wines of Banyuls and Banyuls Grands Crus.
Famous for their aromatic richness and their palette of colours, which evolve during a patient ageing in old wooden tuns or oak barrels, the Grands Vins de Banyuls and Banyuls Grands Crus are above all wines for pleasure.

AOC Banyuls (1936) and Banyuls Grands Crus (1962):
Production area defined by the 4 communes of the Côte Vemeille: Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Noir, a minimum of 50% for the Banyuls and 75% for the Banyuls Grand Cru; Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Malvoisie and Muscat.
Complementary grape-varieties: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah.
Yield: limited to 30 hl per hectare.
Fortification with neutral wine alcohol, not exceeding 10% of the must volume.
Ageing: a minimum of 10 months for the Banyuls and 30 months for the Banyuls Grands Crus.

Fortification (Mutage)
In the middle of the 13th Century, Arnau de Villanova, a Catalan doctor, invented the principle of fortification with a neutral wine alcohol in order to stop the fermentation and stabilise the wines. In this way, part of the natural sugar of the grape is preserved without modifying the aromas. The earlier the fortification takes place, the greater the natural sweetness of the wine.

The wines of Collioure are born on this terroir, from the marriage between the mineral character of the schist and the strength of the fruit.
The dominant grape-variety, the Grenache Noir, is combined with Syrah, Mourvèdre or Carignan, according to the domain. The richness of the aromatic palette depends on this alchemy.

AC Collioure Rouge (1971) and Rosé (1991):
Production area defined by the 4 communes of the Côte Vemeille: Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah.
Complementary grape-varieties: Carignan, Cinsault (a very low percentage).
Yield: limited to 40 hl per hectare.

AC Collioure Blanc (février 2003)
Same production area as the AOC Collioure.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc.
Complementary grape-varieties: Roussanne, Marsanne and Vermentino.
Yield: limited to 40 hl per hectare.

You may contact Romain via his email through the cooking school website or just ask us and we will let you have his number. More info on

Recent Graduates from our Cooking School

It's been a busy August with four more students graduating from the one week cooking course. Congratulations to Caroline, Connie, Jayme and Saul! It was great fun too and especially when Domingo (ex Royal Ballet dancer) showed us all how to make a Salsa mayonaise!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Cooking Course Schedule 2012

Start date Finish date
16 April 20 April
23 April 27 April
7 May 11 May
14 May 18 May
21 May 25 May
28 May 1 June
4 June 8 June
11 June 15 June
18 June 22 June
25 June 29 June
2 July 6 July
9 July 13 July
16 July 20 July
23 July 27 July
30 July 3 August
6 Aug 10 Aug
13 Aug 17 Aug
20 Aug 24 Aug
27 Aug 31 Aug
3 Sept 7 Sept
10 Sept 14 Sept
17 Sept 21 Sept
24 Sept 28 Sept
1 Oct 5 Oct
8 Oct 12 Oct
15 Oct 19 Oct
22 Oct 26 Oct
29 Oct 2 Nov

Students can attend for 1 2,3,4 or 5 days. All courses are inclusive of lunch and dinner taken at the school and costs (in Euros)are as follows:

5 day course 875

4 day course 700

3 day course 525

2 day course 350

1 day course 175

Special discounts are available to Facebook members of French Cooking School and for group bookings.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Carpaccio of Langoustine with Fennel and Orange

Brittany is world famous for its seafoods and one of the most popular of these is the langoustine. This is a simple but delightful dish with the flavour of the fennel and dill working with the orange to produce an extraordinary burst of flavour with every bite!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

25 large langoustines or 40 small
1 fennel
1 large orange
half a cup fresh orange juice
1 bunch dill
olive oil
lemon juice
lobster shell bisque
salt & pepper


Shell the langoustine tails. Cut meat almost through, remove black gut string and flatten.
Slice whole fenell into thin strips, blanch in boiling water 1 minute. Peel the orange removing all membranes and seeds; cut into smaller pieces and collect remaining juice from the orange in a bowl.
Make bisque of lobster shells boiling well till it starts to thicken lightly. Whisk in a little olive oil and season with lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
Add olice oil to a heavy pan and heat lightly.Turn the langoustines on the pan quickly seasoning with salt and pepper. Watch the inside of the langoustine turn translucent in about three minutes.
Dip strips of fennel with pieces of orange in the juices on the pan.
Arrange fennel and orange with the langoustine tails on very hot plates. Whisk juice from the pan with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and drip over the plate.Drip with lobster shell bisque, decorate with sprigs of dill and serve immediately. A nice glass of Chardonnay goes well with this dish.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Summer Deals

We are offering some great value last minute summer deals at the moment. Here are a few:

Course 8 - 12 August 2011 Course reduced from 750 to 500 euros!

Course 22 - 26 August 2011 Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Course 5 - 9 September 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 700 euros!

Course 19 - 23 September 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Course 17 - 21 October 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Free Cooking Course!

Bring four + friends along with you on a cooking course, and all your course fees are waved! You also get to stay a whole week in our posh "Princess Room" for free!

All the above offers are subject to availability and include lunch, dinner and all drinks/wines consumed at the school. In the course of one week, students will create up to 27 individual gourmet dishes under the expert guidance of our Michelin trained chef. Accommodation in local gites costs from 200 euros per week.

Join us on facebook (French Cooking School) and qualify for a 10 per cent discount on all our cooking courses. We will ensure you are the first to know of our special offers and events.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Scallop carpaccio with celery leaves

It's hot in Brittany at the moment so hot in fact that a very light lunch is called for. It's hard to beat scallop carpaccio. This is an ideal first course of simple fresh flavours and is classic seaside cuisine. The scallops are uncooked, so if ever there’s a time for sparkling freshness, this is it!


For each person
2-3 large scallops, white part only
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
A squeeze of lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
A small handful of celery leaves (from the centre ofa head of celery)
½ small spring onion, finely sliced


Cut off and discard the raised white rectangle of muscular flesh on the side of each scallop — it will make them tough. Quickly rinse the scallops and pat dry with kitchen paper, then slice them wafer thin — a properly sharp knife is useful here. Arrange either in a circle or randomly on a small plate. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt flakes, then squeeze some lemon juice over the top and add a few splashes of olive oil. Scatter with a few celery leaves and spring onion, then add a few grinds of black pepper and serve immdiately with a nice cool glass of muscadet.