Last week, I was lucky enough to go along to the infamous River Cottage HQ in Axminster for a Bloggers Christmas Feast courtesy of the lovely folks at Foodies100.
It's very rare that an event takes place so close to home when you live in deepest, darkest Devon and so I was delighted to have the chance to attend...fellow Devonian blogger Pippa picked me up along with Amy and we headed to River Cottage HQ together.
Me with Pippa from Slimming Foodie, Stephanie from Exploring Exeter, Tara from Tar's Busy Kitchen and Lauren from Eating Exeter.
Photo taken by Stephanie at Exploring Exeter
We arrived in plenty of time (wearing our Christmas jumpers for the occasion!), and had a short wait for the tractor ride down to the farmhouse which was an experience in itself...beautiful scenery and a bumpy little ride down the hill to the house.
After some welcome bites and coffee, we had a little look around the farm house and the cosy little yurt before proceedings began with a cookery demonstration by River Cottage chef Andy who showed us all how (and why!) to brine your own Ham, the demonstration was fun and informative, but I have to say that at this point I wasn't entirely convinced that I'd be giving brining a go myself at home...from the description alone I couldn't really imagine that there would be a great deal of benefit to it...I was later proven to be very wrong, but more on that soon!
After the demonstration we were served some delicious canapes, and then spent some time doing a few activities...doing a blind touch test to figure out what weird and wonderful fruits & veg were inside a box in the yurt, and spending some time chatting about blog collaborations and how bloggers can work together to over in the farmhouse.
Then it was time for the main event...dinner!
We were seated according to a table plan, this always makes me a little anxious...as a social anxiety sufferer it's tempting to stay within my comfortable circles and I have no doubt that if it weren't for the table plan I would have happily stayed in the company of the Devon bloggers all evening and not really mingled at all...but the table plan forced me out of my comfort zone, which was a very good thing.
I was lucky to be seated with the very friendly Mel from Le Coin De Mel who was brilliant fun and so lovely to chat with, and the other ladies around me were also very friendly and interesting too...it was great to get to chat a little with Erica from 9 To 3:30 after years of knowing her online.
The food...oh my goodness...where do I begin.
I fear that words will truly fail me when I try to describe just how wonderful each course was.
I was a little apprehensive that the food may be too "country" like for my tastes, and when the appetiser dish of crispy rabbit was brought out I have to admit...I couldn't bring myself to try it as I have never tasted rabbit and have never really had the desire to do so. I'm not a vegetarian but there are certain things I'm not comfortable eating for some reason, and rabbit is one of them...so I left the dish untouched and none of the staff asked me why, which I was relieved about!
The starter was celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms sourced from the new forest...oh my goodness, this was the most delicious pasta dish I have ever tasted. The celeriac was so creamy and delicious, and the mushrooms were just perfection...I could have eaten it all night long, I never wanted it to end.
For our main course, we got to taste the brined ham we had heard so much about...Oh My Goodness...I take back everything I thought about the effort of brining not being worth it...I have never tasted anything so juicy, succulent and flavourful in my life.
Everything on the plate was an absolute delight - right down to the savoy cabbage which had been pan fried with garlic and butter...who knew that cabbage could be so mouth wateringly delicious!
For dessert, we had Apple crisp, Apple puree and Apple crumble which although perfectly pleasant was perhaps not to my personal taste as I'm just not a huge fan of apple based dishes...but the honey comb creme brulee that it came with was TO DIE FOR.
It was hands down the most delicious I have ever tasted, and I would kill for the recipe (and skill to recreate it!)...it was heaven in a little cup.
Although the portion sizes didn't look huge, by the end of dessert we were all suitably full...with just enough room left for coffee and some delicious petit fours.
My evening at River Cottage was one of the nicest I have had, and the meal was without doubt the best I have eaten...in fact ever since returning home I have been thinking about booking to return with Jon as a little Christmas treat...it was too good an experience not to repeat!
To find out more about the dining events and cookery courses held at River Cottage, please click here
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