We enjoyed the autumn/fall of the century here in Alsace with heavenly balmy days and some of the most glowing colours ever seen. Workshops were full of warmth and colour too: September took us to Sardinia, with a full-on Mediterranean menu featuring a salad with fresh figs, smoky pecorino sardo, herbs and toasted walnuts, goat’s cheese mousses with pesto and cherry tomato salad, focaccia with mint and lardons, a toothsome ‘risotto’ of fregola and seafood, slow-cooked/melting shoulder of lamb and a honey semifreddo with fresh fruit.
In October we took off into the woods in search of wild mushrooms (lots of parasols this year, which we tossed in egg and breadcrumbs and fried till crisp). Some ‘shrooms were fried up and tossed over a warm salad with bits of bacon, others went into a mushroom ‘cappuccino’ mixing cultivated with wild fungi and topped with frothy milk. My faves were little ‘tartes tatins‘ of ceps with walnuts and Parma ham, while the students flipped for some mushroom & courgette wraps with a chipotle salsa. A whole potimarron stuffed with chanterelles, shiitake, brown caps and oyster mushrooms was a bit of a head-turner too.
In November we OD’d on some of the most gorgeous vegetables, grains and pulses known to and cooked by man/woman, both delish to eat and beautiful to behold (big, splashy dishes are a must for serving big, bold-flavoured veg.) We had a greenish-gold corn/courgette/avocado soup with tortilla chips, lipstick-pink beetroot panna cottas topped with Parmesan crumble, jewelled bulgur salad with tomatoes, pomegranates and feta, golden butternut with raw spinach and goat’s cheese & apple and ginger dressing, grilled courgettes/aubergines/peppers with walnut sauce and a sweetly spicy, turmeric-rich veggie korma with perfumed rice. Expect more of these vegetable-forward feasts (not for vegetarians, but for folks who just can’t get enough of their greens, reds, oranges and purples with the occasional meaty or fishy garnish) – they’re always the most popular.
The final workshop before the holidays was a sort of “Sue-meets-Julia [Child]” session on December 10th. I love that Julia’s kind of food – fully French, full of butter, eggs and flavour – is now having a revival. One thing about her books is that they were extremely thorough and methodical – I learnt to cook through the pages of Mastering the Art Volumes I and II (you too?) and valued that thoroughness and method-based approach. However, I do have to agree that she sometimes, ahem, over-complicated things, so the recipes for this session, while all inspired by JC, did have a few minor modifications, simplifications and updates.
For the next few months I’ve decided to focus fully on writing and things will go a bit quiet on the workshops front – watch this space and be sure to sign up for free alerts on what’s new on my site: recipes, interesting wines, fun restaurants and places to visit.