Recently, between the King’s and Nore Rivers in rural Dunamaggin, Channel 4’s River Cottage found a new home at Croan Cottages.
Ranked at no. 8 in the Irish Independent’s ‘Top Cookery Schools in Ireland’, Croan Cottages now offer several cookery and lifestyle courses. Among them was the River Cottage Experience.
Hosts Francis and Niamh welcomed River Cottage chefs Steven Lamb and Gill Meller, along with 16 students from all over Ireland, for a 3 day residential cookery course on the beautiful South Kilkenny smallholding.
Cooking together, learning together and eating together under the expert tuition of Steven and Gill, students participated in a wide range of demos and workshops, from sausage and bacon making to bread baking in a wood-fired oven.
‘We imagined the course as a very hands-on experience, with guests at the centre of everything rather than in a classroom setting,’ says Francis.
‘We rolled up our sleeves and got stuck into the preparation of some amazing food and the best part was sitting down together every evening to enjoy the fruits of the day’s work, sharing some very memorable meals together. Needless to say, the conversation continued late into the night!’
Participant Brian from Dublin came to Croan to experience the River Cottage approach first hand. ‘I’ve been a fan of the show for years, and when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. I knew it would be memorable, but it exceeded even my high expectations.’
Participant Teresa from Cork is a keen cook and enjoys learning from professionals. ‘I love cooking and go to as many ‘celebrity’ courses as I can. Usually, the chefs stand up, do a demo and leave. But this was so different. We all worked, and ate, and hung out together. I learned so much and laughed more! It’s been truly amazing.’
It was a first visit to Kilkenny for River Cottage Head Chef Gill Meller. ‘This is an incredible part of the World, with a rich and vibrant food culture. The quality of ingredients, so many sourced from right here in the gardens at Croan Cottages, and the camaraderie with our students made for a really special visit!’
Steven Lamb, now a regular visitor to Kilkenny, was happy to be back. ‘This was the best yet. It’s great to be able to spend time with people who share a passion for food. I’m already looking forward to the next course!’
For food lovers and fans of the River Cottage series, there are some further courses planned at Croan cottage later in the year including another Taste of River Cottage course in September. For details, go to www.croancottages.com