A few weeks ago I made a small road trip down to the beautiful Devon/Dorset border to visit River Cottage for a Christmas Feast blogger event. Arriving just before dusk we all bundled into our tractor taxi and bounced down the dirt track towards the cottage made famous by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Whilst we waited for everyone to arrive and settle in we were free to roam around and take in our surroundings … the cottage, barn, yurt, cottage garden, kitchen garden, river. Everywhere you looked was a calming reminder of a simpler way of life. A life connected and working with the land and the produce it gives us. In a strange way it was almost like coming home. There was a comforting earthy familiarity to the cottage and it’s surroundings.
The barn was beautifully simple with natural stone walls, wood and lots of garden flowers and seasonal vegetables used to decorate.
We started the evening in the barn with a meat brining session given by a guy called Andy Tyrrell. He was a joy to listen to and learn from. His enthusiasm and passion was contagious as he showed us how to brine a ham ready for Christmas, how to make bresaola and he even showed us how to brine a chicken and Turkey (it makes the meat more succulent I’m led to believe)! He talked about cuts of meat, quantities, flavours, containers. It really was a case of bung it all in have some fun and enjoy the results. Which of course we did as trays ham, chicken, bresaola, and roast carrot hummus floated around allowing us to sample the produce he was talking about.
After our brining session we dispersed to have a bit of networking and blogger chat in the cottage and yurt whilst they set up the table for our evening meal.
The feast was amazing and the courses came out in a steady stream. All just the right size leaving enough room to savour the delight of each and every one. I had the Vegetarian Christmas Feast, but if you’re interested you can see what the Meat Christmas Feast was with Hijacked By Twins and the Vegan Christmas Feast with
River Cottage Christmas Feast Menu (vegetarian)
Canapés: – Welsh rare bit on gluten free toast, Goats cheese on rye bread topped with pickled red and gold beetroot Slices, leek, mushroom and blue cheese croquettes with green tomato chutney
1st Starter: Roasted Romanesco with Romanesco puree
Kingston Black Aperitif: – a blend of cider brandy and cider apple juice that you drink chilled
2nd Starter: Celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and salad leaves (I think it had a drizzle of truffle oil)
Main: Poached egg, carrot puree, fried savoy cabbage, smokey braised beans
Desserts: Honeycomb crème brûlée with apple puree, apple crisps and rye and treacle crumble
Petit Fours: Chocolate orange truffles, spelt biscuits dipped in chocolate with Coffee
Half way through a young chef called Sam Lomas came out to informally chat about the ethos of River Cottage and the food we were eating, it’s provenance, how it had been cooked. It all added to the ambience of the evening.
The food was delicious and we eagerly tucked in to each course. It’s only now as I look though the photo’s that I see how clever they were with the festive theme. Every vegetarian dish was golden in colour!
At the end we all said our goodbyes, bundled back into the tractor taxi and bounced our way back up the track towards our cars. It really was a memorable evening and one that I hope to do again with Mr Dad. It’s a much nicer present than a tie and pair of socks!
If you’d like to find out more do go and have a look at The River Cottage website. They have a great variety of events throughout the year that would make a wonderful experience gift for friends and family. River Cottage is an absolute joy to visit the staff are warm welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly and you leave feeling you’re a member of the River Cottage family even if it is for just one day.
I went to the River Cottage Christmas Feast blogging event courtesy of Foodies100. All thoughts, content and photo’s are my own.