Today is the very first day of the summer holidays. The kids finished school on Friday. The last dinner of the last workshop until fall was on Friday night. When I came down to the kitchen the following morning I could still smell the barbecue from the night before, the ashes were still in the fireplace – even some unwashed glasses waiting their turn. I walked into the big dining room, the one we sometimes call the “harvest room”, with copper pots on the walls, a table with lemons and Champagne, a table in the corner filled with cognacs and armagnacs. In the middle of the room is a huge dining table, one that fits up to 18 people (if they like each other – and they always do). There were still some corks on the table, a stack of breads that were slowly going stale. In the middle of the table, as always, there was an abundance of fruits and vegetables, flowers and candles. As I was gathering the last items to bring back with me into the kitchen I couldn’t help but think of all the people who have sat at that table in the last year, a group so miscellanioussly from all over – in terms of geography, profession and age.
This year we’ve had Brazilian, Turkish, Italian, German, Austrian, Chinese,French, Persian, English, Israeli, Polish, Swiss, Croatian and of course Canadian and American people.
There has been dancing on tables, photography contests, singing, dancing, friendships have been forged, tears shed. There has been Champagne and great wine tastings. Most of all there has been good food and good times.
And I have been led to believe that everybody has been either satisfied or very satisfied. We’ve even had quite a few people return.
I had planned to announce new dates in the fall like we did last year but lately I’ve been getting so many emails asking me for dates in 2017, people (everybody seems to be more organised than I am) want to plan ahead, which I understand, and so we’re announcing early this year.
In 2017 there will be fewer workshops than this year and while I have really enjoyed this experience and will continue to do so, I think 2017 will be the last year we do so many workshops. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that doing one thing, even a thing you love, often prevents you from doing another. And we have big plans. In the future we want to make more books, we have so many projects waiting for us, which is exciting but it all requires time. One of the things we are planning to start next summer and continue in force in 2018 is to help with the revival of our village, a farmers market once a month in our garage (it used to be a stable for donkeys). It was that or a spa and a farmers market is more us 🙂
I hope to gather the best producers in the region, we’ll have music, food stands, oyster men and winemakers. It will be beautiful.
But let’s get back to the workshops.
We decided to make a few changes for next year although the format of the workshops will be similar.
The workshops will all be 3 days.
Many of them will be more specific, we thought it made sense to gather like-minded people with similar interests so they could focus on what interests them.
We have also realised that people who come here really love wine and therefore every class will have more amazing wines and winetastings. My husband (and our sommelier) has been going overboard with good wines anyway and we need for it all to make sense.
So here are the dates and themes of 2017:
“The Spring workshop”, April 5-7
The first workshop of the year. A classic setup of cooking together all day and having lunch and dinner together. We’ll visit an asparagus farm, focus heavily on spring vegetables such as fava beans, artichokes, chard, asparagus etc. We’ll have wine tastings in the house, perhaps with an emphasis on white wine. This workshop will be very light on meat and suitable for vegetarians.
“The Antiques workshop”, April 26-28
Twice a year Bordeaux goes “brocantes” mad when the biannual antiques fair comes to town. Quinconces (the biggest square in Europe – well so they tell me) fills up with hundreds of tents of all sorts of antiques and various pretty objects. We’ll go there early in the morning one of the days and spend all day together in Bordeaux. We’ll visit some of my favorite Bordeaux addresses (most to do with chocolate, food or wine) and have lunch and dinner in very special places in Bordeaux. The other two days we’ll stay closer to home, cook together like we always do but each of the days we’ll visit local antiques stores for additional inspiration and finds. The food will be highly influenced by the “brocantes” mood.
“The early Summer workshop”, May 10-12
As classic at it gets, we’ll do it how we’ve been doing it for the last two years, meet in the mornings, cook lunch, have it together, drink a little too much … then start again for dinner. A proven formula for success.
“The photography workshop”, May 31-June 2
After 2 years of half resisting, of giving little tips and presiding over the very popular “photo survivor”, my husband will finally relent and do a full-on 3 day photography course. Every day will have a special theme, there will be field trips of course and at least a big part of it will revolve around food photography. This is where I would use the words food styling if me husband would let me. He will also give a class on retouching, color corrections etc. We will of course also cook together and have meals every day as we do in the regular workshops.
“The wine enthusiast’s workshop” June 14-16
This is where we will go overboard with wine tastings and pairings, we’ll have winemaker guests, visit Châteaux and have a guest sommelier with us the whole time. Read: FUN! We’ll have a fair amount of Bordeaux but also explore wine from other regions in France and even a little from other countries.
Needless to say there will also be cooking and dining as usual.
“The “sweet” workshop 28 – 30
A woman or man cannot live on sweets alone (or can they?) so we’ll cook some good savory things but this is where we go crazy with desserts. I’ve always wanted to do a class where we rush through the mains and end up having three desserts per meal.
“The special summer and Bastille day workshop” 12-14
Another dream has been to do a very “outdoorsy” workshop, al fresco dinners every night, barbecue on the beach and fireworks on Bastille day. During the day we’ll go cycling in the vineyards and have lavish picnics among the vines.
“The fall workshop” 27-29
Another “classic” workshop where we stick to the proven format of cooking and eating all day. Seasonality of course comes into it with this being one of the richest seasons of all, we might visit markets and even pop by a wine harvest if the time is right but mostly we stick to our format.
“The harvest and foraging workshop” 11-13
This workshop will be a little more physical than most, waking up early to hunt for mushrooms, bringing them home, cooking and cleaning. We’ll visit pumpking farmers and a beautiful chicken farm, we’ll go fishing in the morning and if the stars align we’ll participate in on of the harvests that are happening all around us this time of year.
“The second wine enthusiast’s workshop” 25-27
Like in June we will go overboard with wine tastings and parings, have winemaker guests, visit Châteaux and have a guest sommelier with us the whole time. This time the emphasis is firmly on Bordeaux wine, white but mainly reds and some Sauternes. Big wines – big fun.
Needless to say there will also be cooking and dining as usual.
“The second Antiques workshop”, November 29 – December 1
When I announced the workshops last June I could not possibly have imagined the incredible demand we had for the April Antiques workshop. I have sadly had to turn over 50 people away and while I had no plans to host a workshop in November I just couldn’t pass on this opportunity – so we’re adding a second workshop just like the first one. As I said earlier, twice a year Bordeaux goes “brocantes” mad when the biannual antiques fair comes to town. Quinconces (the biggest square in Europe – well so they tell me) fills up with hundreds of tents of all sorts of antiques and various pretty objects. We’ll go there early in the morning one of the days and spend all day together in Bordeaux. We’ll visit some of my favorite Bordeaux addresses (most to do with chocolate, food or wine) and have lunch and dinner in very special places in Bordeaux. The other two days we’ll stay closer to home, cook together like we always do but each of the days we’ll visit local antiques stores for additional inspiration and finds. The food will be highly influenced by the “brocantes” mood.
All workshops are 3 days and the price is 2.000 euros per person. Should someone not drink at all they can be excused from paying the 500 euro wine supplement.
As before we will be very happy to recommend accommodation near my house, we have a good list and good contacts.
I will also be more than happy to answer any question regarding logistics and the best way to get here.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
For all bookings and further information please contact
Additionally if any of you can get together a group of 6 people I can arrange something outside the published dates for you, if the dates and stars align.