I hope you are hungry – Day 1 at the Gascony Cookery School

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 071Find a village in the middle of nowhere, inhabitants about 10 families, on a hilltop with an ancient Chateau, 1 restaurant (le petit feuillant) owned by the lovely Bernard, and chambres d’hotes run by the wonderful David and Vikki and you have a recipe for a unique and wonderful experience.

Gramont is in Gascony, in the southwest corner of France. Served by Toulouse airport, its only  1 hour 45 minutes from Heathrow and a world away from the hustle and bustle of the UK.

We started the morning learning knife skills, each of us had our own professional knife set and steel, used to ‘hone’ the blade before each day. After practicing on a range of vegetable we started work on a number of dishes which added further to our skills.Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 006When you see those chefs on TV, forcefully ‘launch’ Onions and other ingredients in a frying pan and wondered why it does not work for you, then come on this course and you will learn the secret, its not as easy as its looks but when you have a guide like David, a professional trained chef it becomes a lot clearer and you get to practice in the safety of a quality teaching kitchen.Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 026The Onions, once fried were to be a component in the Duck Pizza we were making for lunch, which was quite delicious, we had prepared two lots, one with Chilli the other without. The cutouts from the pastry were used to make the equivalent of ‘Money Pouches’, filled with some of the Onion mixture and some Cheese.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 010Gateau Pithiviers, filled with an Almond cream was the dessert, learning hints and tips on decoration and presentation gave everyone confidence as the morning progressed towards lunch which was taking on the terrace, with spectacular views of the Gascony countryside.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 019We also learnt how to make a PROPER Crepe Suzette sauce, I am not going to tell you how, book the course and you will find out.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 036The afternoon was spent at Bernard’s restaurant to learn some more cooking skills. First we prepared a Cassoulet, layers 0f vegetables, Smoked Bacon Lardons, Sausage, Pigs Trotters (for the Gelatine), Haricot Verts— etc… It cooks for several hours, is allowed to cool, and finished off the next day with Duck Confit.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 050If you are squeamish, then Foie Gras maybe a bit challenging, personally I love it but don’t get to eat it very often (its not cheap!). We learnt how to prepare this delicacy 3 different ways including pain d’epices, stuffed with…….thin slices of Ginger Cake, its delicious as we found out during the evening meal.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 065Flipping Crepes introduced some competition into the afternoon, I am the only bloke on the course, surrounded by 5 competitive ladies, all of them lovely in their own unique way. Two of us on the course are lonesome doves, the other 2 pairs are sisters from the UK and Australia and we are having a blast.

Back to David’s (only a 5 minute walk) and we prepared a sweet pastry that needs to rest for several hours before we can roll it out.

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 095This evenings meal extravaganza was AMAZING. Before settling down, we visited a unique Museum Du Vin, underneath the restaurant, which was fascinating, you have to come and see it for yourself. The menu gourmande, Gascony haute cuisine was stunning, 3 versions of Foie Gras (we know how to make that now), beautiful Soup, Rump Steak cooked to perfection, a palate cleanser of Pear Sorbet with Eau De Vie, (I also had the Cheese course, when in France and all that), and finished of with Crepes Suzette which we prepared ourselves, practicing in the kitchen the technique of Flambe!

Gramont - Gascony Cooking School 112

So, if I could give 20 out of 10 I would, today has been busy, fun, we’ve learnt loads, eaten loads, drunk loads (the wine seems free flowing!), and I cannot wait for tomorrows adventure.

You have to come here, its AMAZING….

Till next time… L8ers……………..





THE Gascon Cookery School (Adventure)

Firstly an apology, no pictures today. Its been a long one, up at 4:45 a.m., drive to Airport, eat  really poor Bacon sandwich at Heathrow T5, get on Plane, have cup of tea and watch Rick Stein eats the Blues. Picked up at Airport with the lovely Claire and whisked of to Gramont in Gascony, via Concorde, Fighter Plane outside museum, rolling counrtyside and Garlic fields..

We were greeted by the welcoming Vicki and David, amazing hosts. On arrival, and after settling in, lunch was beckoning us at the local Auberge, Le Petit Feuillant, the start of a gastronomic experience. Run by Bernard Corbiere, the 65 cover eatery served tasty amazing food. A delicious Aperitif, Foie Gras, home made Soup (delicious), Chicken (that tasted of Chicken), with superb sauce and vegetables, Quiche (homemade and sublime) and an Apple dessert with Chocolate Mousse, then coffee in the sun, on the terrace.#stuffed

A few hours to chill and start a new book, “A Tourist in the Arab Spring”, by Tom Chesshyre proved a good purchase.

The rest of the foodies arrived and shortly after 7 p.m. we were munching wild Boar canapes on the terrace before sitting down to a fabulous  meal. I already feel part of a multi-cultural family, we covered all manner of topics whilst munching through more Foie Gras, sliced Duck with Potatoes cooked in…….Duck Fat, delicious Cheese, and Pain Perdu, with delicious Coulis and Creme Fraiche.

David and Vicki are wonderful hosts, the wine was free flowing, delicious and generous, the conversation around the table was funny, inclusive and made everyone feel at home.

I’m just finishing a glass of wine before hitting the sack, knife skills tomorrow and I’ve been up for nearly 20 hours so better get some rest!  This feels like its going to be another amazing foodie adventure.

Until next time, L8ers……….