Friday, 25 September 2015

River Cottage - A piece of heaven in Devon

I was recently one of the lucky bloggers selected by Foodies100 to spend the day at River Cottage, made famous by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I knew the day would be interesting, but I didn't realise how inspiring and engaging it would be.

I'm lucky enough to live only a few hours from River Cottage HQ, a little different to Foodie Quine who have the mammoth journey from Aberdeen to make! On route I picked up my two newest blogging friends, Grace of Eats Amazing and Sara-Jane of Keep Up With the Jones Family. The car ride to and from River Cottage was like a blogging session in itself - these ladies know their stuff and I learnt so much from our chats!

Pulling into the car park we had a few minutes to say some more hellos, gather up our cameras and climb up into a big trailer for the bumpy ride down through the valley to the instantly recognisable farmhouse. I think the fact that there was still some lingering morning mist made our first glance of the farm even more special.

After breakfast of pastries and omelette bites we split into our groups to start our sessions. I was in the red group and was excited to see that Annie Spratt (Mammasaurus), a blogger I've long admired was also in my group. Our first session was learning brilliant styling and photo tips from Lucy Heath (Capture by Lucy). I immediately took my camera off full auto mode and vowed to learn how to take pictures on manual settings!

By this point the sun was out in beautiful early Autumn glory, perfect for our tour around the farm and gardens with Will Livingstone, Head Gardener. He told us so much about the farm and methods they employ that can easily be used in our own home gardens and the passion he and his team have was so evident.

All this walking and chatting was making me hungry so I took little persuading to head into the dining room for our lunch. A table plan stopped us eating in our usual groups of friends, so I put my shyness to the back of my mind and spoke to everyone around me.

Our lunch was made using ingredients reared, grown and foraged at the farm. Beautifully aged Dexter beef, slow cooked and served in a wholemeal ravioli on a bed of vegetable ragu with bread baked that hour and seasoned corn on the cob.

A fennel infused meringue, damson plums and a vanilla and coffee ice cream, served with salted apple caramel.

The doors to the kitchen had been open all morning and we were all encouraged to come and watch, take photos and ask questions.

Our final session of the day was a practical one. Gill Meller, Group Head Chef helped us make soda bread using spelt flour, flavoured with cheese, herbs, apples and blackberries that we had picked ourselves. As the last group of the day our foraging skills were really put to the test, but we all managed to find enough! The real magic of this session was making rolled butter using only double cream and flavouring it with peppery nasturtium and marigold petals.

All too soon it was time to climb back aboard the trailer to take us back to our cars. I like everyone else looked back down the valley, until River Cottage disappeared from view and we were back in our normal day to day life again.

I learnt so much at River Cottage HQ that one post could never cover it all. Over the next few weeks I will be doing further posts on the things I learnt - food styling tips, organic growing & making your own bread & butter.

Thank you Foodies100 & River Cottage HQ for putting on such a special day for us all - this is one day I'll never forget!


  1. i can't believe you were there and i had no idea! what a shame not to have said hello to you. You took some beautiful photos and it was an amazing day wasn't it? that food at lunch time - OMG soooooo delicious . xx

  2. It was great to meet you Carrie and chat over lunch. I came away truly inspired and I'm really keen to go back and attend one of their courses. We were so blessed with the weather too. Looking forward to seeing you again at BlogOnWin xx

  3. A fabulous write up of a great day and I am so pleased that we were able to finally chat - albeit briefly. Take care and hope to see you soon xx

  4. Beautiful photos Carrie! It was lovely to meet you :-) It was fantastic to meet such of like minded people in such a beautiful face. I think we should do it again next year!

  5. Wasn't it just the best day? I really enjoyed it too and the prettiest butter in the world tasted as good as it looked :)

  6. Your butter looks so pretty! I love that you used nasturtiums in it - I left mine quite plain with just salt and thyme. xx