I'm rather fond of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His book, River Cottage Veg Every Day, is currently my most well-used cookbook. From the mushroom stoup to the ribolita, his recipes are loved and made often in my house.
So, when Foodies invited me to join a group of my fellow food bloggers for a day out at River Cottage, I was very excited to don my wellie boots and head to Devon to explore River Cottage.
I was very excited when I rose long before the sun in order to meet up with the lovely Sus of the vegetarian food blog Rough Measures in Bath so that we could drive down together.
We arrived at the stunning farm and had a bumpy tractor ride down to the farmhouse. Welcome drinks and nibbles were most welcome as we mingled with our food blogger colleagues.
This was my first time meeting other bloggers and it was so nice to see familiar faces that I recognised from their blog profiles. It was like celebrity spotting as we all chatted before being split into groups and whisked off to a cosy yurt with a roaring woodburning stove to discuss the plan for the day.
My group started with a tour of the extensive gardens as we were told all about the certified organic farm, vegetable garden, animals and plants. The day was gloriously sunny and we explored unusual herbs, found out about their methods of crop rotation in the kitchen garden, composting and balancing soil nitrogen levels through harmonious planting.
As we toured the grounds and gardens, we were told about propagation and raising seedlings from cuttings and seeds, polytunnels and how the kitchens make use of the seasonal ingredients grown at the River Cottage farm.
Our next session was a hands on cookery demonstration in the large kitchen. First, we foraged for blackberries in the hedgerows before returning to the kitchen to make fresh butter. We whipped the fresh cream and it turned to thick butter before our eyes.
Here's Kevin from The Crafty Larder multitasking like a true food blogger!
We then used the resulting buttermilk, along with our purple foraged treasure to make a lovely blackberry and apple spelt soda bread with goats cheese, sage, thyme and fennel seeds. As the bread cooked with decorated our butter with salt and edible flowers
Next up, it was time for lunch in the barn. As all of the groups came together there was a lot of chatter and many, many pictures taken of the food! Have you ever seen a table with so many cameras??!
The veggie option was a gorgeous spelt ravioli stuffed with leeks and cheese, on a ragu/ratatouille, of fresh vegetables and herbs from the gardens. It was served with the sweetest of sweetcorn and lots of lovely foodie conversation. The dessert was an incredible flavour combination of fennel meringue (yay, a vegetable dessert!) with honey-roasted locally-foraged damsons, coffee ice cream and orange-infused salted caramel.
We moved on to the food styling workshop with the charming and lovely Lucy of Capture by Lucy. Originally a blogger, her photography talent has seen her rapidly move into a successful career as a food photographer and stylist, working with brands and on cookery books. Since she understood the pitfalls, perils and positives of food blogging, she was the perfect choice to give us useful advice.
She was a wealth of food photography tips, including using opposite colours to highlight the colour of the food, shooting tethered to a computer to save time and shots and ensuring that you have a number of hero shots for the blog, different social channels and photo sharing sites. She encouraged us to use the natural beauty of our surroundings and the beautiful fruit and vegetables from the farm to put her tips into practice.
After that we all had a lovely time chatting and networking before it was time to head home with our fresh soda bread and butter! I had a great day out and made some lovely new blogger friends.
Check out my review of the Ibis Heathrow
Disclosure: I was not paid for attending and there were no expectations on my review of the day. This post contains affiliate links to the cookbook.