When we first visited the house at 1 rue de Loudenne, which was also the day we decided to buy it, we were struck by how big it is. It somehow looks smaller from the outside. Nothing really indicates the vast hallways, the countless large rooms. That day we knew we wanted to live here but also … to do something else, bring it to life. One of the ideas we had was to host workshops, bring together like-minded and lovely people who love cooking and eating, who love France, wine, the countryside, photography. People who love beauty. People who like to cook and eat all day, then go shopping for antiques, then cook some more, often with a coupe of Champagne in one hand and a whisk in the other. I was a little bit hesitant when we put up the first notice on my blog. Was it really a good idea, would people like it. Would we like them? Would anyone want to come?
Now we are in our third year and it’s all gone swimmingly. It has long ceased to surprise me that the people who come here are wonderful. That they have a good time, that they take something valuable from the experience and that they leave a little piece of themselves behind. Something to remember them by. I think everybody takes something different home with them. Some recipes of course, but more than that. Memories of shared moments. An improved knowledge of Bordeaux wines. Dining and entertaining tips, perhaps how to be relaxed in the kitchen under a bit of pressure. How to have fun while hosting a party. How to make perfect meringues.
I know a good deal about subjects I never thought I’d know anything about. Like how to get divorced in America or who to call if I need a wedding photographer in Norway. I know how to invest my fortune if I ever have one, who to call if I need reconstructive surgery. We’ve had a retired congressman, sommeliers, doctors, lawyers, dancers, artists, people of all ages, and occupations. A lovely man brought rice from Minnesota. A dear woman made me an artichoke in Bronze. Our guests have been lovely to our children, they have adopted some of our dogs. So many have returned and quite a few have bought houses in the region.
Last year when we announced the workshops for 2017 I mentioned we might be doing less workshops in 2018. I had just given birth to my baby boy and as much as I love the workshops I felt I needed time to attend to other things. But now we are approaching the end of the spring/summer season of hosting the workshops and it’s gone so well, been so enjoyable and easy. It’s been just right and I’d love to continue.
It’s been a pleasure meeting all of you and I’m sure we’ll meet again some day.
Class of 2018
Being in our third year we have found a formula we are comfortable with, all workshops will be 3 days like this year, the hours and prices for participation will stay the same. But one mustn’t get too comfortable, there is always room for evolution and next year we’ll travel a bit more, expand our horizons as it were.
So here they are, next year’s dates. I hope there is something for everyone.
April 11 -13, “The Spring vegetarian workshop”
As always we’ll meet in the morning, cook together, have lunch – then take a small break. After the break we start all over again. It’s a perfect time of the year to focus on vegetables as spring brings out so much freshness after the winter. Asparagus (white and green), fava beans, peas, radishes, artichokes, chard, spinach, strawberries. These are the stars of this show and the menu will be 100% vegetarian which is a first for us. This year we did a similar workshop but included some meat so next year we’ll go all the way but keep it equally delicious.
April 26 – 28, “The Italian cooking workshop”
Our first foray outside Médoc borders will be in Piemonte, a region we have fallen in love with. The focus is on Italian, regional cooking and will be in association with local culinary talent. This means I must up my Italian game and I love a good challenge. We’ll meet in Torino and spend 3 days in the region together, with at least a day in our new favorite city. Local wines like Barolo and Barbaresco will play a part and we’ll visit some winemakers and producers. Piemonte is after all the home of “Slow food” and while all of Italy is bursting with great food, Piemontese cooking is very close to my heart.
May 16 – 18, “The Basque workshop”
This is a workshop I’m particularly looking forward to as it includes my friend and France’s finest charcutier, Eric Ospital. We’ll spend half our time in Médoc, cooking and eating in my house and the other half, including one night, will be spent in Basque country “Pays Basque”. Eric will show us around, we’ll visit his place where he cures hams for some of the finest restaurants in France. We’ll go to the beach, have a seafood dinner in St Jean de Luz which is a gem of a place.
May 30 – June 1st, “The Summer wine workshop”
As most of you know we live in one of the best known … and best period, wine regions in the world. This workshop will be dedicated to Bordeaux wines. We’ll have a guest sommelier, visit some friendly Chateaux and try more good wines than anyone should. Except they should 🙂 Most of the meals will be had at my house in St Yzans but there will be plenty of fun outings.
June 20 – 22, “The Summer abundance workshop”
Just like the early April workshop is a tribute to to spring, this one is a tribute to the glory of Summer. But with a lot of meat! This workshop will be all about peaches, apricots, cherries and barbecues. Expect a lot of decadent al fresco feasts, tables charged with pork roasts and duck breasts, creamy cakes, mountains of fruits and magnums of wine. This workshop will take place at our house in St Yzans but we’ll do some outings and fun picnics as well.
June 28 – 30, “The photography workshop in Arles”
In the past few years we’ve had the pleasure of visiting Arles regularly. To put it simply, it’s a cool town in a wonderful region, a happening place with a big heart, especially in the cultural sense. Vincent Van Gogh lived in Arles during a very productive period of his life and today the town hosts a great photography festival every year. We thought we’d head to Arles next summer, enjoy the burgeoning food scene, drink some local wines and most of all take photos.
September 27 – 29, “The Italian wine & photography workshop”
Next fall we’ll head back to Piemonte for second “annual” photography workshop. My husband Oddur will (literally) be in the driver’s seat as photos and wine are two of his passions. We’ll meet up in Torino, spend a day there and work our way through the vineyards of Barolo until we find ourselves on the Ligurian coast in time for a plate of Pesto. This time there will be limited cooking but lots of eating and drinking. We’ll visit winemakers but the focus is on photography. We’ll say our goodbyes on the coast so this is an ideal opportunity for those who want to extend their stay, head further south or lounge on the beach in Liguria.
October 10 – 12, “The Fall Harvest workshop
In Médoc, fall is the richest season of all, not only is all the wine being harvested which brings the region to life but this is the time when Médoc is flush with mushrooms, pumpkins and game. This workshop will all take place at our house in St Yzans but we’ll forage for mushrooms, follow hunters, participate in the wine harvest. The culmination will be an all day feast in the forest, enjoying the bounty of the season.
October 24 – 26, “The Autumn wine workshop”
Very much a replica of the “Summer wine workshop” but with a different tone as we’re in another season. “Bigger” food, and even more serious, older wines.
All workshops are 3 days and the price for participation is 2.000 euros per person (with a few notable exceptions – workshops where we travel and the second wine workshop). Please note that all deposits are non-refundable. I find that to be a necessary step to avoid confusion and frivolous bookings. Should, however, something prevent you from coming at the date of your booking we would be more than happy to try to find other dates that suit you.
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 8 people I can arrange something outside the published dates for you, if the dates and stars align.