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Learn to cook and serve duck and foie gras in both traditional and modern ways in a rural, rustic setting in the region famed for bringing these delicacies to the world culinary stage. Chef Bruno will show you how to transform the raw produce into delectable dishes, savory and sweet, helping you to demystify the conception that working with duck is difficult, all the while learning a few simple techniques. Awaken your palate with flavor revelations never before imagined using fresh local produce. This weekend "duck experience" is the perfect introduction to the star items of the southwest region of France!
You will be staying in a beautifully restored 15th-century house tucked away in the heart of southwest France. The house is filled with charm and historic details while providing all the modern facilities you would want from a vacation home. The outdoor space is private with a verdant undertone from the established fruit and nut trees. In the evenings, it is an ideal vantage point for the magnificent sunsets.
The main atrium hallway with an oak staircase leads up to the first and second floor. There is a modern, open plan kitchen and dining area leading to an 80sq.m sitting room with natural stone floors throughout. It is a wonderfully light space, yet a cool and comfortable retreat during the summer.
The 60-square meter open plan kitchen is well equipped with an electric hob and fan oven, fridge freezer, dishwasher, and washing machine.
For all its light, the salon remains beautifully cool in the summer and a French stone fireplace warms the room on cooler evenings. Double doors lead out onto the pool area. There is plenty of seating, satellite TV, and DVD player, a small library of books, and a ping pong table that can be moved outside beside the pool. Wi-Fi is also available.
An atrium hallway with an oak staircase leads to the first and second floor. It has exposed beams or ‘colombage’ which extends all the way up the inside of the house. There is a piano and a downstairs loo under the stairs.
During this culinary retreat, you will experience a relaxing and hands-on approach to cooking, coupled with the understanding and knowledge of local food styles. You will look at ingredients, how they work together, different ways to cook the produce, but with completely different twists, and importantly, the art of presentation.
You'll have to opportunity to buy bread that's displayed at the heart of the bakery where the flour is produced. There's also an organic beer maker where you can sample onsite, as well as handmade soap and apple juice.
Relaxed and informative cooking about the dishes and ingredients, tips and tricks.
Where you can buy the best of the local cheeses and dairy, meats, produce, and other prepared foods not to be found elsewhere.
Upon arrival to Rieume (a French countryside farmhouse), and after you settle into your rooms, you will go out to a local duck producer and a local farmhouse bakery (3-5 p.m.).
Returning to Rieumes, you will sit down to an evening meal prepared by Bruno and made with the freshest, local ingredients, salad with mixed duck charcuterie, celeriac soup with olive oil, and foie gras toast, cheese board, and Tarte Tatin with Armagnac Crème Fraiche.
After a good night's sleep, you will wake up early on Saturday morning to a continental breakfast. You will then travel 15 minutes to the nearby town of Pamiers, where you will experience a real French market and where you can shop for food souvenirs. After returning from Pamiers, you will get right back to work with a late morning class where you will begin the preparation of a "Cassoulet Toulousain", showing you exactly how to make Magret de Canard (home-cured duck breast).
Lunch will be prepared by Bruno and will consist of grilled sourdough bread with duck rillette, pickles, greens, and local cheeses, as the evening meal is a hearty cassoulet. Dessert will be Fromage blanc with fresh seasonal marinated fruits.
Your afternoon class will focus on completing the evening meal which you started in the morning. You will create Brioche dinner rolls made of duck fat, fig, and foie gras, and for dessert, a Frangipane Plum Tart with Armagnac (a typical dessert from the southwest of France).
On Sunday morning, you will awaken to a continental breakfast before starting your morning class. Your morning class will be focused on preparing lunch and will consist of how to make three delicious amuse-bouches: Foie Gras curing method and flavoring, a Peach and Duck Foie Gras Crumble, and a Foie Gras Crème Brûlée.
Lunch will consist, therefore, of all of the above, plus a salad and boozy dessert. After lunch, you will begin work on the evening dinner which will consist of duck in honey, orange, and star anise sauce, Millas (a local polenta), Apple Kouign Amman flambéed with Armagnac.
When you're finished preparing the evening meal, you will have some hours free. Please ask your host for ideas of what to see in the area if you'd like to go out on your own and explore the countryside. Dinner will be served around 7:30 p.m.
After a hearty southwest dinner, you can stay in and relax in the farmhouse. You will have plenty of time to pack.
After breakfast, you and your group will sadly say Au Revoir and you'll depart.
Bruno specializes in French and American cuisine. For 30 years, he lived in London (UK) and in Rochester (UK) where he owned the (semi)legendary Bruno's Bakes & Coffee. In 2011, he won a Master Chef Live/BBC Good Food Show bursary award for his salted butter caramel and his sweet pastry base. He was a judge for the semi-final of the International Chocolate Awards held in London in May 2012. Bruno was also featured in the January 2013 issue of Delicious magazine and the May 2014 edition of Kent Life. His recipes can be found in the DK book, "Chocolate: Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic".
The property overlooks the small medieval village of Saint Martin d'Oydes, the only "circular" village in Ariège. It is peaceful and is in a beautiful setting. With marked trails from the end of the drive and panoramic views, it's tempting not to venture far, especially in the summer. But positioned next to the Pyrenees with all its cycling, hiking, and winter skiing, surrounded by Cathar castles and on the edge of Languedoc Roussillon, this region offers something for everyone.
This area of Ariège, part of the Occitanie region, has the added benefit of fantastic rural countryside with fantastic local products. The biggest food market in Pamiers is only 15 minutes away and you will take a tour and shop there before cooking, so you have the opportunity to bring back food items you'd not find elsewhere.
You will have a larder of essentials stocked but you will mainly cook with fresh and local ingredients. You will buy from local producers for meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruits, but most will be provided for cooking and baking lessons in advance. Homemade sourdough bread will be provided.
Breakfast will consist of coffee and a variety of teas, a continental breakfast consisting of juice, viennoiserie, bread, butter, and jam. However, you can opt-in (additional cost of 10 EUR) for extras including eggs, homemade brioche, bacon or ham, and sausages. You will prepare most of the main meals together, sharing the fruits of your labor so there's no need to buy any extras although you are welcome to use the kitchen's fridge to stock what you bought during your trips to the producers and shops.
There are many activities you can pursue when your culinary weekend has ended such as:
Transfer not provided
If you would like to make your own way, then the nearest train station is Saverdun. Trains run often from Toulouse to Saverdun. From Saverdun, you can take a taxi to Rieumes. Give the driver the "Geo-Location". The pproximate cost is 32 EUR. For those arriving by car, there is plenty of free parking available on site.
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