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Getting Festive with Foodies at River Cottage HQ | Travels

November 16, 2016

Last week I headed to the Dorset/Devon border for a special event. I had been invited to a winter feast at River Cottage HQ. To say I was excited was an understatement.

I travelled down on my own, which was actually quite nice given the recent craziness of work. When I got to the River Cottage “bus shelter” I got chatting with other bloggers whilst we awaited our carriage down to the cottage itself. Yes this was a tractor! When we got to the cottage we were greeted with steaming hot cups of tea (much needed now the weather had turned). As well as drop scones with apple, yogurt and honey. A warming treat.

river-cottage-kitchen-garden

river-cottage-foodies-winter-feast

river-cottage-garden

The day started with a whistle stop course of how to prepare meat for our own winter feasts this Christmas. As well as some background on River Cottage itself. All food is either locally sourced or grown at the cottage. They have gardeners who attend to their veggies as well as foragers too. They pride themselves on being completely ethical, waste free and organic. A fascinating place, all made famous by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall.

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river-cottage-cured-venison

river-cottage-roast-chicken

Head chef Andy Tyrrell went over how to brine pork, chicken and turkey in an attempt to get more flavoursome dinners on our tables this year. We also learnt about curing venison, something I’d love to try. Mr W is a huge fan of venison so I’d love to do this. We also got to try samples of what we could produce, given it takes so long we couldn’t have tried the stuff we had brined.

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Once our cooking demo was over we had a chance to chat with other bloggers. I had a good chat with new faces and some I had met before. I also enjoyed more tea, it had been a long day travelling for me! After our opportunity to network we settled down and awaited our dinner. We were treated to some apple brandy (delicious) and wonderful canapés whilst we were told about dinner.

river-cottage-braised-rabbit

river-cottage-canapes

Our canapés were plentiful! Local pork (brined prior to cooking) and bechemel cheese croquettes with date and tomato ketchup. Locally caught mussels with apple and red onion Suffolk cider vinegar. Garlic bruschetta with whipped goats cheese and cured beetroot and carrot cider vinegar. (The whipped goats cheese was just something else!) And lastly, crispy rabbit (braised, pulled then fried) with romanesco purée. The rabbit was intense but not overly and the purée was a fantastic balance here.

river-cottage-winter-feast-starter

After this, I opted for a local Pilsner to accompany my dinner, from Chesil brewery. I’d discovered them on my holiday in Dorset earlier in the year. Then our starters were served. A wonderful homemade pasta, filled with celeriac from garden, foraged mushrooms and sage from the garden. 

river-cottage-winter-feast-main-course

river-cottage-homemade-baked-beans

Our main was pork, which was brined then slow cooked. The meat was picked, mixed with mustard and herbs, then rolled, and lastly glazed with honey and mustard. I can’t really describe this apart from wanting more. It was intense, but sweet. A wonderful winter meal. The pork was accompanied with carrot purée, savoy cabbage and homemade baked beans.

river-cottage-dessert

Lastly, I’m amazed we all had room for it, the dessert! A creme brûlée mixed with honey comb, accompanied with apple crisp, apple crumble and a soft apple purée. It was a sweet dessert but the apple cut through the creaminess of the brûlée. Most of us were trying to lick our little ramikins clean!! At this point I braved the weather (and tractor back up- on a full stomach!!) and headed back to my wonderful B&B.

Edit- For those who want a veggie insight into River Cottage, check out Jane’s Post on the event.

If you want to see River Cottage for yourself, they offer many cookery courses, foodie feasts and you can even get married there! They also have 4 River Cottage Canteens, so you can try the food out for yourself without getting your hands dirty!

Are you a River Cottage fan? Have you visited? Or got one of the cookery books?Let me know in the comments,

MISSPOND X

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P.S. Thanks to Foodies100 and River Cottage for inviting me on this trip. All opinions are my own.

P.P.S. River Cottage HQ is located at Trinity Hill Rd, Axminster, EX13 8TB.

24 Comments

  • Reply Liz November 18, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I’d go for the veggie option but that aside the whole experience and setting looks Devine. I’ve never been to that part of the country so would love to give it a go.

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      It’s a stunning part of the country! The veggies said theirs was delicious 🙂

  • Reply Jasmin Charlotte November 17, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Ah this is amazing! What an awesome trip, I would love to go!

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      It was wonderful, well worth a visit if you can plan it into a trip as it’s quite a long way away!

  • Reply Frances Bibby November 17, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    This looks lovely! The perfect winter getaway! Love that the food is locally sourced or homegrown.

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      It was wonderful, loads of log fires and amazing food – perfect winter day 🙂

  • Reply Latoya November 17, 2016 at 11:42 am

    OMG This is my absolute food heaven! What an amazing experience for you. All the food looks/sounds amazing but I love the look of the slow cooked pork.

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      It was utter food heaven 🙂 The slow cooked pork was just divine!

  • Reply Anca November 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

    The whipped goats cheese sounds interesting. I will look for hints of how to make it. It seems you had a wonderful time, I’m happy for you. x

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      I wish I’d asked how to make it! Worth a google 🙂

  • Reply francesca November 17, 2016 at 10:04 am

    What an amazing event!! I’m jealous! I”m a massive foodie and this all looks so delicious! So great that you had a chef teach you and What lovely photos!!

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      It was an incredible event 🙂 All the food was wonderful, I want to visit again for a proper course next time.

  • Reply Bec November 16, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    This looks like a truly wonderful day Emma – great photos too. We would really love to visit River Cottage – maybe next year. Hugh is a legend. N has got lots of their cook books, great ethos too especially about seasonal food. love bec xx

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you, it really was a lot of fun.

  • Reply Jennifer November 16, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Oh my, I have to second the comment about feeling hungry after reading this. It all looks delicious. I’m glad they mentioned brining. I have always brined my Thanksgiving turkeys since I saw Alton Brown do it on Good Eats, and I really think it makes a huge difference.

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Haha sorry for making you hungry! I need to try brining for myself, the meat we had was delicious.

  • Reply My Two Mums November 16, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Really looks like a lovely feast! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      No worries, glad you enjoyed reading.

  • Reply Joanne Mallon November 16, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Your pictures are absolutely wonderful, you’re a great photographer. I’ve never really got into the River Cottage brand because my impression is that it’s very meat focused so not my thing, but I will have to explore it more now.

    • Reply MissPond November 16, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I must say they do have a great vegetarian focus too. The starter and canapés had great veggie things I tried. They did cater for veggies, vegans and allergies too. I’ll edit my post to make it clearer 🙂 do have a look, Hugh even has a vegetarian cookery book out!!

  • Reply Oliver November 16, 2016 at 11:22 am

    The food does look pretty spectacular! I’d always wanted to go there but now I’ve turned veggie… I don’t know how it’ll suit my diet 🙁

    Oliver x

    • Reply MissPond November 16, 2016 at 11:43 am

      They do a lot of vegetarian food, I didn’t showcase it as I am not, so didn’t receive any. They even do veggie specific cookery courses. All allergies catered too as well!

  • Reply fashionandstylepolice November 16, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Wow this post is making me very hungry. Looks yummy, I’d love to visit River Cottage.

    • Reply MissPond November 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      It’s a great place to visit, well worth a trip.

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