Cooking in Gascony
About the Location: Situated in the heart of the Gers in South-Western France, this cooking school is the perfect setting for your initiation into French cuisine. The location has been specifically selected by your hosts for the region’s famed gastronomy and the area’s culinary prestige is rivaled only by the beauty of its landscape; a combination of rolling hills, meandering rivers and fields upon fields of golden sunflowers. In addition to the picturesque region’s gastronomic treasures, this corner of the French countryside is saturated with European history. Now one of the least populated areas in France (a fact which enables Gascony to proudly retain its core ‘Frenchness’), Gascony was invaded by the Romans, the Vikings and the Visigoths, each civilization leaving behind remnants of their occupation. From forts and castles to beautifully preserved Roman baths there is a plethora of excursions and sightseeing activities to be enjoyed during your free time at the cookery school. Alternatively, the school is also in easy driving distance of Toulouse and Bordeaux and, for those wishing to extend their European exploration, you are only a train ride away from the Spanish city of Barcelona.
Your home for the duration of the five-day course will be the historic French commune of Gramont. The village of Gramont is a closely-knit community and boasts, in addition to its status as a national heritage site, the Chateau de Gramont, a well-maintained medieval castle and one of just six national monuments in the Midi-Pyrenees region. Your hosts for the week, David and Vikki, are an English couple whose long love-affair with French food and culture finally led them to renovating the old Gascon auberge in which you will be staying. You will be accommodated in one of the five elegant and classically furnished guestrooms of their chambres d’hôtes (there are two double rooms on the ground floor; and, three double rooms, one room with a king-sized bed, and a room with a double bed and single bed on the first floor). In true Gascon manner David and Vikki will make you feel as welcome and comfortable as possible in your new home from home.
About the Cooking Lessons: The teaching itself will take place in a large, professionally-equipped kitchen and for this David will be joined by locally acclaimed French chef, Bernard, in guiding you through your introduction to French cookery. Both David and Bernard are experienced and talented chefs in their own rights and their unique Anglo-Franco partnership allows for a method of tuition that is completely accessible to English speakers, whilst at the same time preserving the authenticity of your truly Gallic experience of French cuisine. Your menu for the week has been carefully crafted by David and Bernard in order to showcase the best of Gascony’s culinary delights and includes, amongst other dishes: cassoulet, ballotine de poulet and tartes aux pommes. All of the ingredients that you will cook with are sourced from the local, open-air markets which you will visit during your stay. Aside from familiarizing yourself in this way with any new produce and flavors, your time spent at the local marchés promises to enhance your experience of French life through your contact with the people whose cuisine and culture you will be learning about.