The alarm fired at 5:15 a.m. on Friday, not the usual expectation of a customer visit but the start of my annual adventure to learn some new cookery skills, eat some lovely food, share worldy travel tales with like minded people, I had been looking forward to this for months.
My destination was the acclaimed French House Party, which has won a number of awards, and as I am finding out, rightly so. Set in a picturesque area of France, about 45 minutes from Toulouse its an easy destination to get to, in my case via a BA flight from Heathrow.
On arrival I was collected from the airport and whisked to the small hamlet of Pexiora, which was to be my base for the next 6 days, I was curious as to how many others were on the course, and when they would be arriving.
The location is ‘Stunning’, Birds chirping, Hares hopping and only a 10 minute walk from the Canal du Midi its in a quiet idyll in the South West Corner of France. After a warm welcome from the host Moira over a cup of tea, I was shown to my room and provided with a comprehensive agenda and all the info I needed to understand what we were going to be doing over the next few days.
That evening I met the rest of the guests as we set to work in the Kitchen with our first very experienced chef Robert, who has recently retired after a distinguished career. There were four of us taking part and like last years trip, I was the only ‘bloke’ doing the cooking course……!
We learnt how to prepare some canapes, as a way of getting to know each other and ‘breaking the ice’. Simple delights such as ‘Cucumber Sushi’, ‘Aubergine Caviar Mini Croissant’, ‘Red and Black Cherry Tomatoes’ ‘Courgette grillees et Crevettes”, and ‘Chevre Fromage Puffs, we were soon chatting and laughing along as if we had known each other for years.
Shortly after, the bubbles were cracked open and we munched and chatted as Robert prepared the evening meal as a welcome treat. We were delighted to Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, A beautiful Duck breast with spiced sauce, and a melange of desserts, followed by cheese. For each course Robert had selected a local wine that you would not be able to get in the U.K., a real treat.
We all slowly departed to our rooms, in anticipation of what was to follow the next day, our trip to the local market at Revel was scheduled for 9 a.m. after a typical French breakfast. Following that, the 1st ‘official’ lesson was to take place and what a treat that was going to be.
Until Part Deux……………………………..L8ers