Three days cooking classes

Included in the three day programme

  • Four nights bed and breakfast
  • Welcome supper of Normandy cheeses, wine, dessert, breads etc.
  • Three fun, informative hands-on cooking classes with recipe folders and after-class tasting meals
  • One restaurant lunch (plat du jour)
  • All excursions – farmer’s market visit, organic cider farm and dégustation, 18th century boulangerie, fine grocery store

We generally try to work around François from the 18th century boulangerie when planning a course so while all of the below is included, nothing is written in stone. We’re flexible! Please feel free to contact us to arrange a tailor made course to suit your requirements.

DAY ONE

Afternoon arrival at La Blonderie. Time to relax a little and explore your surroundings.

A first taste of Normandy follows for Sunday night supper in the form of a Norman cheeseboard with salad, crusty bread, pastries, and wine or some locally produced organic cider. While you enjoy your food you’ll also meet with your fellow ‘cooks’ – a perfect introduction to the cooking classes.


DAY TWO

Monday 8a.m Continental Breakfast of croissants, bread, cakes, homemade jams and jellies, artisanal apple juice, cereals, fruit and youghurt.

9a.m Off to Bricquebec, a beautiful medieval town, for the weekly market where we’ll absorb the ambience, pick up some fresh produce for our lunch and sample whatever we’re offered before our first cookery session.

10.30a.m Cookery class #1

1.30p.m Lunch at La Blonderie

4.30 pm Visit to Le Père Mahieu Ciderie where the best of Normandy’s organic apples are transformed into the most delicious drinks in the forms of cider, pommeau, calvados and apple juice. After a guided tour of the distillary and a walk up to the orchards (weather permitting) we sample the various ciders, calvados, pommeau and apple juice.

Evening free – restaurant recommendations and reservations are made for you where necessary.


DAY THREE

9a.m Continental breakfast

10.30a.m Cookery class # 2 in Sinéad’s Wilde Kitchen. Together we prepare a three course lunch which is enjoyed afterwards washed down with a glass of local, organic cider or wine.

3.30p.m A siesta may be welcome or a chance to visit La Maison du Biscuit where keen shoppers are spoilt for choice.  Soaps, souvenirs, cups and saucers, biscuits and cakes, herbs and spices, whiskeys and ciders and lots more are on offer in this fabulous épicerie fine (fine food store) Biscuits which made the Burnouf family fortune may be sampled over a cup of tea/coffee.

Dinner suggestion – reservations made where necessary.


DAY FOUR

8 a.m Continental Breakfast

9a.m Food preparation – Serious food prepartaion is required for the final cookery (and history) class. Vegetables are  prepared, lamb is prepared for an afternoon of slow cooking in the bake house oven or pork loin is prepared into Orloff, starters discussed and decided upon and whatever else is necessary for the unique foodie adventure which follows.

12.30 – 2.30 Lunch in local restaurant (formule du midi)

2.30 pm Excursion #3  Bread is baked and a full meal is prepared and cooked in an authentic post-revolution (1789) boulangerie oven (bread oven) chez François at La Ferme Auberge. While waiting for bread to rise and the food to cook, François will give a talk on the history of the boulangerie and provide lots of anecdotes for a fun-filled, educational afternoon over a glass of his home made apple juice or cider – a serious treat for lovers of history, terroir and food!

7.00 pm Apéritifs with Francois

8.00 pm Dinner en famille


DAY FIVE

All good things must come to end alas, so after breakfast we’ll say our goodbyes. You’ll leave laden with recipes, tips and more importantly perhaps, an understanding of life in rural Normandy!

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Price: €1,250 per person, based on 2 people sharing

QANTAS DECEMBER 2011 

Chrisine Farmer
Publicity director HarperCollins

WILDE KITCHEN at La Blonderie, Benoistville in Normandy. It is hosted by irrepressible Irishwoman Sinéad Wilde [who has lived in Normandy with her French husband for 18 years]. Nearby Cap de la Hague (“the chin”) is an unspoilt coastline with surfing, sailing and horseriding. It’s everything you expect from the French countryside.

Duration? Four days. Sinéad tailors the classes to suit your schedule. We arrived on Saturday, eating at a local restaurant that night, before a 10am start the following day to cook a Sunday lunch of aubergine timbale with goat’s cheese, cockerel Vallée d’Auge, cheese and salad, and finished with a strawberry meringue roulade.

School specialty? Sinéad teaches Normandy-style cooking with local ingredients such as cider, Calvados [an apple brandy], apples and cream. We made teurgoule, which is Norman patois for rice pudding. It is a dish traditionally made in a bread oven as it cools down after a bread-making session – French villagers would take their teurgoules to the boulanger, to be cooked all together.

Did it live up to its promise? Yes. Sinéad makes it really fun and relaxed. She was flexible, too. One morning was so glorious that she altered the menu and we styled a picnic to take to a local beauty spot. Drawbacks? Too much food: four courses per meal. After the first day we learned to take smaller portions and go for a brisk country walk afterwards (well, some snoozed).

Were you a better cook in an exotic location? It’s good to cook away from home and try new things. I would have never cooked blood sausage or snails, or tried gizzards. Sadly, “gizzard” doesn’t sound any better in French, either, but I did eat some. I’m going to spend the next six months working out how to bring some special local Norman cider into the country. It was delicious.

Have you made the dishes again? We got everyone together on Bastille Day, July 14, to reminisce and cook our favourites again.

Would you go again? In a heartbeat. Next time we’d stay longer and book the large two-bedroom house on-site with friends.