Well, goodness gracious me!. What a feast that was. Katherine Frelon, my life has changed and all for the better. So, I guess if I were to be hit by a bus right now, I’d leave this world a happy, half stone heavier, waddling dumpling duck. But here I am, to tell the tale and my gosh, what an evening that was. Having been a dormant, lazy, ‘I love the sun and my computer is broken’ layabout, I am ashamed to say that the page has remained unwrit for the summer, from this blonde anyway..However, if there were anything to ignite some inspiration it was this evening. A furore of excitement hath been awoken and so what the heck, here goes..Lovely people, sumptuously fresh ingredients and an evening that has left me pining for dear France more than ever before…
Katherine Frelon is, in my mind, living the dream. Having moved to France when only a spring chicken, aged 22 and seeking adventure, she started out renovating an 100 year old bakery that was all but a ruin. She got stuck in with her DIY and soon after set about starting a culinary school. She then founded La Ferme de la Lochere, and it was here that her dream was set in motion. Situated in the heart of Burgundy, Katherine now runs a bespoke culinary school, which offers week or weekend long courses. Surrounded by vineyards and with local markets here and there, this is surely the most heavenly experience. For the duration of the courses, guests can enjoy trips to vineyards, Michelin star meals and the chance to learn all manner of things, from bread baking, to menu planning, to throwing the most impressive and beautiful and delicious entertainment! Katherine is a brilliant teacher. Fun and engaging, I can only imagine that her courses are amongst the best. We had a great time. We learnt some fantastic things and most importantly, the evening was filled with laughter..
I was late..I think as I grow older I am becoming ever more like my mother. Note to self. Must put watch forward ten minutes. So, I missed the pudding making but ’twas nee disaster! I arrived and I was handed this menu and seriously, could it sound any better?
Goats cheese mousse falvoured with truffle oil on a parmesan crisp
Warm gras on pain d’epices with onion confit
Home made ‘boudin blanc’ with baked apples in cognac
Duck breasts gently smoked and served with a bouquet of young salad, watermelon chutney, rocket oil and miso dressing
Blue cheese and courgette quiche
Smoked salmon and goats cheese sunflower
Roasted chick pea salad with rosemary, moroccan spice mix, olive oil, garlic and preserved lemons
Pan fried squashes with summer salads, cherry tomatoes and other garden goodies with roasted garlic dressing
Green beans, wild rocket and blanched orange salad with orange dressing
L’ami de chambertin, regal de bourgogne affine au son de moutarde et brillant saverin with black figs
Wines from Vignoble de Flavigny and Domaine Lucien Jacob
I arrived at the crucial salmon, dill and goats cheese sunflower moment. Handed a most welcome glass of champagne, we set to play and it was such fun to make.. and most importantly, simple too.. A square of puff pasty, layered with creme fraiche, cooked smoked salmon (that had been marinaded in Bourbon), some goats cheese, dill, lemon rind and pepper and then the same again on top. We the placed some more puff on top and brushed with the most golden yolk that I have ever seen! Now the fun bit. We made them into the shape of a flower (mine was more like a jelly fish but whatevs..dare to be different an’ all that..) and then sprinkled with seasoned delights! They were then cooked for about 25 minutes, until puffed up and golden. So delightful and I shan’t lie when I say I was momentarily taken back to Brownies..the arts and crafts of the cooking world!!
We were then set to making the fois gras canapes, whilst the otther end of the table did the salads and dressing. We were faced with a rather daunting bowl of onions, and I was half tempted to put on my ski goggles which Lucy had just returned to me! But we ploughed on and wept together (that’s one way to bond..) and then fried them with white wine, vinegar and sugar, for about 20 minutes until they had caramelised beautifully. The smell was divine and there were a murmurs of excitement in the room about the feast that was to ensue! Once the onions were done, we placed a small spoonful of the pain d’epices (which was orangey flavoured) followed by a slice of fois gras. These were then paced under the grill for a minute or so and the result was pretty phenomenal. We also made the goats cheese mousse that was flavoured with truffle oil. So light and, combined with the lovely parmesan crisps, which were cheesy but sweet at the same time, they were dangerously mourish..
We had the canapes upstairs, which meant a good chance to mingle a bit more.. The ‘home mad boudin blanc with baked apples and cognac’ was something that Katherine had recently created, so we were trijng her new creation and it was awesome. The ‘boudin blanc’ is pretty much ‘white pudding.’ I know that many people can get a bit twitchy about black pudding and white pudding and all things blood and offal related but I have to say, I love them. perhaps it is the result of being raised in a family where we had to clean our plates…. But to me, you can’t really go wrong, and the flavour is, more often than not, so rich and distinct.
We then went downstairs and had the main course. In fact, I was already quite full but somehow, when occasions such as these arise, my little pocket, be it for another course, or cheese or for pudding, remains bottomless, and I can eat until it’s time to go home! Note to self II…asses that….
The duck, which had been marinaded prior to the evening and then smoked at the venue, was perfectly pink and was completely out of this world. I would never, ever have imagined that watermelon would be a good pairing, nor would I ever have thought to make a watermelon chutney. But it was sensational and an accompaniment most excellent. The salads worked really well and the vegetables were so fresh and colourful, something that can’t help but put a smile on one’s face.
Katherine with the scrummy blue cheese and courgette tart
We then had the cheese with cheese with figs (ahhhh-maaazing!!) and then the tart, which I had missed out on making. Fit to bursting but so utterly content that words cannot describe, we talked some more and then wound our ways home. Such a special evening! Thank you Katherine, Storm and food at 52..a super duper night all round!
With many thanks to:
http://www.stormcom.co.uk/ - +44 (0)20 7240 2444
Twitter – @katherinefrelon
For more information on La Ferme de la Lochere, visit the website at http://lafermedelalochere.com/ or the facebook page which is www.facebook.com/lafermedelalochere
Prices for a ‘Classic Gourmet Itinerary’ start from 2,650 EUROs
Food at 52 - http://www.foodat52.co.uk/