I have been a massive fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage for many years. I spent my university years watching Hugh’s adventures from the very beginning and willing him to make a success of his smallholding dream. River Cottage has been on my wish list of places to go for a while now so I jumped at the chance when Foodies 100 offered us a special bloggers day out there.
For me, the day started very early at 4.20am when my alarm went off! I drove down to River Cottage from the West Midlands with Sarah from Taming Twins, Erica from A Little Luxury For Me and Candace from Us Three By The Sea. Upon arrival at River Cottage we were greeted by the tractor and the trailer and driven down the steep and bumpy hill to the farmhouse, yurt, dining room and cookery school where coffee (much needed!) and breakfast snacks were laid out. The chocolate pastries and a frittata served with spring onions and a tasty relish. We had lots of time for socialising with our fellow bloggers and then we were split into groups so that we could enjoy everything River Cottage had to offer.
My first session was a garden tour with Head Gardener, Will. We started in the garden at the front of the farmhouse. The one that is shown the most on TV. It was beautiful and very full of the most amazing looking fruit and vegetables I have ever seen. As well as the ‘show garden’, River Cottage has a few polytunnels which they use to grow some of their fruit and vegetables to keep a continued supply throughout the year. They also have a couple of larger growing areas which are not as pretty as the garden in front of the farmhouse but do supply the River Cottage kitchen with the bulk of their fruit and vegetables. All fruit and vegetables are used on site in the kitchen and in cookery school.
Our next session was ‘Bread & Butter’ with Gill Meller, Group Head Chef for River Cottage in the cookery school. We started the session foraging for blackberries grown wild in the hedgerows across from River Cottage and then returned to the kitchen looking forward to making something with them. We made our own butter first using double cream whisked until the point of no return and then squeezed with our hands to remove all the butter milk. While the butter chilled in the fridge we used up the remaining buttermilk by making soda bread with apples from the orchard and our foraged blackberries. I have never made soda bread or butter before and I could not believe how easy it was. I will definitely be making them again soon.
Next up was lunch which we all shared together in the River Cottage barn. Gelf Alderson, Head Chef explained what we would be eating and we learned that recently a cow from the farm had been to sent to slaughter. This became our main course of beef ravioli, made with homemade wholemeal pasta with basil pesto, served on a bed of ratatouille which was amazing! It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. The ravioli was served with homemade ciabatta style bread and grilled corn on the cob. The pudding was even better! It was local damsons with a fennel meringue served with salted caramel and coffee bean ice cream. I was slightly concerned that salted caramel and coffee bean ice cream would not work at all but I was completely wrong. It was delicious and could of eaten a bucket load of the ice cream!
Our last session of the day was with Lucy from Capture By Lucy on food photography and styling. We discussed colour wheels and little tricks to improve your food photography especially for sites like Instagram. Lucy also told us to take more than one hero shot of your food so that it can be used in different ways across social media. It was a really useful informal session. The day finished with coffee, tea and gorgeous chocolate truffles plus more chatting with my fellow bloggers. Soon though, it was time to get back on the trailer and go back up the hill with the tractor. My day finished at about 9.30pm when we finally got home after stopping at Gloucester Services for a mid journey refuel on the way back. I highly recommend a stop at Gloucester services if you are in the area. It is the best services I have ever been too!
For more posts about River Cottage please see:
River Cottage Edible Flower Butter Roulade by Foodie Quine
A Day Inside River Cottage by Munchies & Munchkins
A Foodie Day at River Cottage HQ by Eats Amazing
River Cottage Blog Camp with Foodies 100 by Supper In The Suburbs
A Day at River Cottage With Foodies100 by Lovely Appetite
A Day at River Cottage by Tin & Thyme
I was invited to River Cottage by Foodies 100. All opnions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review