Monday, 28 September 2015

A blogger day at River Cottage HQ - a foodies dream come true.

I thought that being able to drop the fact that I was going to spend the day at River Cottage HQ into conversations, casually as if it's the sort of thing one does every day, was going to make the 7 hour round trip worthwhile.

Turns out actually being at River Cottage HQ was worth the journey as the day turned out to be the sort of event that a foodie like me could only previously dream of. I warn you now, the experience has turned me a bit evangelical about the place!

I've seen the programmes, used the recipes and to be honest, thought the HQ might be a bit of a let down - a kind of film set without any substance.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The setting is idyllic and the staff passionate about the farm and food. The chefs were (in my opinion anyway) all impossibly handsome and incredibly friendly and helpful. No-one seemed phased by a gaggle of bloggers mostly sporting serious cameras who needed no bidding to eat anything in sight including bouquets of edible flowers.

We crushed and sniffed herbs, foraged for berries, photographed every square centimetre of the place and the people (and cats) there.

We devoured tiny chocolate pastries, squares of omelette with salsa and chilli, garlic-rubbed corn cobs, giant ravioli stuffed with slow cooked beef shin atop veg fresh from the garden, and agreed to disagree in our opinion of the fennel meringue, salted caramel ice-cream and poached foraged fruit. (for the record I expected to hate it as I don't like fennel generally but in fact really enjoyed it!)






The good news is you too can experience the joy that is River Cottage HQ (located on the Devon/ Dorset border just a few miles from Lyme Regis) or at the very least eat at one of the Canteens in Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth or Winchester.

You can book courses (prices start at around £135pp), meals (3 course Christmas meal at Axminster Canteen costs under £30), private dining or corporate events or even your wedding- River Cottage HQ is licenced for legal ceremonies. Feel free to drool over the Pinterest Board!

If you are wondering how you can lure your not-so-foodie other half down to River Cottage HQ  check out the website.  River Cottage HQ and the Canteens organise a wide variety of events from flower arranging demos, musical evenings, hike, wine or bike and dine days and even sea fishing trips followed by a cookery lesson!

I was there for a BlogCamp organised by the Foodies100 arm of Flea Ents, the company which also runs Tots100, Hibs100 and Trips100 blog indexes.

The day started with a bumpy tractor ride down to the farmhouse followed by a briefing in a sheepskin-lined yurt and refreshments on covered decking with amazing views.


We had a food styling and photography session with the immensely talented Lucy from Capture by Lucy, enjoyed a tour of the kitchen gardens and made soda bread and homemade butter with flowers and herbs rolled into it supervised by Chef Gill in the cookery school which has a view to die for.

I left clutching an aromatic creation I named "smug mother soda bread" containing foraged berries and apples, and a wrapped roll of my homemade butter with sea salt, rosemary and nasturtium petals blended into it.

The loaf went to my friend's MacMillan Coffee Morning the next day and the butter is safely tucked into my freezer ready for me to produce with a flourish at a dinner party ready to be served with some homemade bread and some name dropping.

I want to thank Flea Ents for organising such an amazing day -I know at least some of the people at the #RiverCottageBlog Camp were competition winners so it is well worth keeping an eye out on the Flea Ents websites for events and competitions which often feature experiences as fabulous as this.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the free #RiverCottageBlogCamp by Flea Ents. Views and Opinions remain honest and my own.




8 comments:

  1. It was fab wasn't it. I was in the first group tho and had to whisk by hand! My arm still hurts. Lovely to see you again x

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    1. Such a lovely day! I went straight to power tools for my whisking!

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  2. It was such a lovely day wasn't it? I like your idea of freezing your butter. Wish I'd thought of that :) x

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    1. My freezer is my best friend. Well my best friend with a plug. Well.... I'm going to shut up now!

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  3. *runs of to freeze butter*

    Lovely to see you there Afra!

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    1. You too - and was too shy to say you are one of my photography inspirations, especially with instagram-esque pics. So thank you.

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  4. Lovely to meet you Afra - I know I didn't like that fennel meringue >_< A great recount of the day, and love how you donated your loaf to a MacMillan Coffee morning. xx

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  5. I so enjoyed meeting you: definitely worth the drive (a similar length of time) down there!!

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