River Cottage, near Axminster in Devon is a fabulous place and the food is truly wonderful. That has certainly been my experience so far. On Tuesday I was lucky enough to visit for a third time at the invitation of Foodies100. It was a River Cottage Christmas special for food bloggers.
It was touch and go as to whether I’d make it or not. I was planning on driving there and back on the day, but car problems arose and if it hadn’t been for Hayleigh at Budget Food Mummy coming to my rescue, I would have missed out on a scrumptious event. As it happened our intrepid Cornish contingent arrived early. This gave Hayleigh and I a chance to wander around the gardens and admire the profusion of kale varieties growing there and the many flowers that were still going strong so late in the year. One of the many things I like at River Cottage is the exuberance of floral displays they have in every room. In the dining area, they had vases of flowers as well as vegetables decorating the room. There were also various flowers hanging up to dry, which gave a festive air.
This was the first time I’d been to River Cottage during the cold season and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I first visited in July 2014 for a fabulous preserving course with Pam the Jam. Last year we spent the day at River Cottage in the warm September sunshine courtesy of Foodies100. Not only did we turn up in the middle of a cold snap this time, but it was a dark and rainy evening too. Warm clothes were definitely needed, but the cottage was cosy with a roaring log fire and the yurt also had a large welcoming fire at its centre.
It was good to have time to look around, catch up with friends and meet new bloggers, but we really couldn’t wait for the main event – the River Cottage Christmas dinner. It was a meal worth waiting for with the usual gastronomic art of layered tastes and textures that I’ve come to expect from River Cottage. Each mouthful is an exquisite adventure. Although meat is a focus at River Cottage, we vegetarians were very well catered for. The chefs decide the menus on the day according to what’s available in the garden, farm and larder and it’s all organic of course.
Our Vegetarian River Cottage Christmas Menu
- Kingston Black Apple brandy aperitif – delicious apple brandy which despite being 18% proof, was smooth and very quaffable.
- carrot hummus on rye bread.
- whipped goat’s cheese and beetroot marinaded in cider vinegar.
- leek, mushroom and blue cheese croquettes with green tomato chutney.
- roasted romanesco with romanesco puree.
- Starter: celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms, sage and salad leaves.
- Main: parsnip and potato rosti with poached egg, carrot puree and cabbage fried in butter and garlic. Served with haricot beans cooked with tomatoes, fennel and onions.
- Dessert: honeycomb crème brûlée with apple purée, apple crisps and apple rye & treacle crumble.
- Coffee with orange truffles to finish.
As well as the venue for the well known television series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage has a well established cookery school. Courses run from one to four days and range from foraging to baking to Christmas. Dining evenings such as this one are a regular feature and private events, including weddings are also catered for.
Many thanks to Foodies100 for arranging River Cottage Christmas and to River Cottage HQ for being so hospitable and welcoming. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.