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This is your opportunity to stimulate your taste buds and revel in the stunning food cooked just for you by and with two professional chefs. Be pampered with luxury in an idyllic rural French farmhouse surrounded by a walnut grove. The opportunity of working so closely with such enthusiastic and knowledgeable chefs is an experience you wouldn't want to miss. Using the finest ingredients you will create light and balanced dishes full of distinct flavors with meticulous presentation. You will leave with a great feeling of achievement and satisfaction, making you want to come back for more.
Your accommodation in the sympathetically renovated farmhouse is set in a walnut grove in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where inclement weather you can play boules or croquet, or simply relax in the sun. The four luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms are situated on the first & ground floors and have stunning views stretching over the countryside.
This beautiful property has high quality ensuite bedrooms, open log fire and tranquil grounds, perfect for a relaxing gourmet break. Within a short drive you have the use of some top quality golf courses, sport facilities including canoeing and sailing at La Rincerie (10 minutes drive), or shopping at the nearby city of Laval. If you wish to venture further afield, within less than an hour drive you could explore the medieval cites of Angers, Vitr or Rennes.
We believe that Gourmet Breaks at the Walnut Grove are unique, because where else can you have a personal chef and butler at your disposal, all to yourself? Relax after your evening meal in the comfort of the guest sitting room with like-minded people. Exchange ideas and knowledge with new friends, aware that you all have the same aim - to make the cooking holiday an ongoing adventure.
Enjoying cooking is all about confidence, being relaxed and understanding your ingredients. Skillfully combining flavors, textures and presentation is within all of us, our aim at the Walnut Grove is to bring these qualities out, so that you have the ability to follow your own flair and imagination. Each day, you'll experiment with new flavors and new techniques using the freshest ingredients with expert guidance. We believe that this is the ideal way of combining a holiday with culinary development.
You'll arrive on Saturday, mid afternoon. After some time settling in to your room, the course begins with an introductory talk to discuss the structure and goals of the program. Later in the evening, after complimentary champagne, you'll enjoy a 6-course gourmet dinner that illustrates the cooking style you'll be studying during your cookery course, with explanations by your chef hosts. It's also a wonderful opportunity to relax and get to know your fellow guests.
Each day after breakfast, there will be both demonstrations and hands-on classes, ranging from basic knife skills to homemade Italian bread's and even caramelized sugar baskets. This is followed by preparation of the evening meal, with gourmet dishes such as apple and goats cheese croustade with a roquette and walnut salad or Collops of monkfish glazed with a herb, mustard & brioche crust, served with saffron tagliatelle and a white wine, mussel and dill sauce.
After a light lunch, you'll get to enjoy some of the local culture with visits to a 19th century windmill producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method. Then, back to Walnut Grove for more hands-on fun in the kitchen, as you put the finishing touches on dinner. It's then time to sit down and revel in the stunning food you've learned to prepare. There will be a maître pâtissier who will come to teach croissants and macaroons.
On the last day, you'll be challenged to use all the skills and knowledge acquired during the week as you work in teams to prepare and present the last meal with only a little guidance from the chefs. To relieve the pressure, a gourmet barbecue is served in the afternoon, followed by a game of croquet or boules in the garden. Then back to the kitchen for final preparations before sitting down to your gastronomic feast.
You will visit a 19th century windmill.
Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of chefs and teaching approaches and I believe that learning to cook should be a pleasure. I’ve got an eye for detail but while I’ll always be passionate about gourmet cooking, you won’t find me taking myself too seriously. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s got to be friendly and fun.
This holiday takes place in France.
Chteau and City of Vitr: Built at the end of the 11th century on a rocky spur overlooking the Vilaine, this chteau played a major role in the defense of the Breton border, and today is one of the finest specimens of medieval military architecture in Brittany. Rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries and restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, it now houses a museum - opened in 1876 - which reveals its history and that of the town. Or stroll through the narrow streets of the old quarters, along the ramparts and back in time to the 14th and 15th centuries.
Chteau d'Angers: The castle of Angers began in the 9th century as a watch post against the Norman threat, and 300 years later during the Plantagenet dynasty it was enlarged to a royal fortress. It now houses the biggest tapestry in the world - "The Apocalypse" 103 meters long, 4.5 meters high and comprising 70 scenes, the Apocalypse wall-hanging is today the oldest in the world of this importance. Angers is approx 1 hours drive away.
Chteau de Craon and its Park: Built a little before the Revolution, this grand country house is made of the Loire white stone, which dominates the perspective of formal gardens and of the town. Panelling and Louis XVI furniture in living rooms evokes the idea of a refined life in the castle. Over 42 hectares, the gardens and park form a whole that you can discover as you please, helped by the French-English written guide.
Ferme du Pressoir: Visit the Ferme du Pressoir, where cider has been made since 1871, and enjoy the ambiance of a traditional French cider farm. Taste cider made not just from apples, but also from pears, and sample the famous "Eau de Vie"
Fishing: There are a number of excellent fishing rivers: the Mayenne, the Erve, the Vaige, the Taude, the Treulon, the Ouette, the Oudon, and more anonymous or not well known ones, however also full of fish. Almost each town has its own lake, deep, well kept and restocked with fish for each fishing season. Daily fishing permits can be purchased on request.
Golf: There are two top class golf courses in the area, one at Vitr and another at Chang-les-Laval - both about a 30minute drive away. Les Rochers Svign is near Vitr, and is laid out in the grounds of the Chteau. It is a superb eighteen-hole course, which has been used on several occasions to host the French Open Championship. It has an excellent clubhouse and restaurant. The course at Chang-les-Laval runs alongside the river "Mayenne" - and boasts a full 27 holes. It has panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and also has a first class clubhouse and restaurant. Both these courses welcome day visitors - and are generally quiet weekdays.
La Rincerie: The sports and recreation park of "La Rincerie", in La Selle-Craonnaise, near Craon, offers a multitude of water sports: catamaran, windsurfing, kayak and "Topper"; that benefit from the incoming winds onto this 50 hectare lake. You can even practise sand sailing, or, if you like nature, you have ATB, archery, "swin-golf" (9 holes by the reservoir) and mini-golf. The reservoir is also of major ornithological interest, and offers lovely walks around the area.
Le Moulin des Gus: This windmill was built in 1824, and is the only one of its kind in the region. It has remained in the same family for 12 generations, and Monsieur Lemoine still fabricates buckwheat flour, or "bl de noir" in the traditional manner. Many of our courses include a visit to Moulin de Gus, which gives a fascinating insight into the traditional way of milling flour.
Museum Robert Tatin: After sixty years of travelling around the world, Robert Tatin returned to his native town, to sculpt a world deserving of the name "One thousand and one nights", which invites the visitors to dive into his fantasies. The approach is along a pathway bordered by giants, dedicated to people such as Picasso, Joan of Arc and Vercingtorix. In addition to his sculptures, the museum also includes paintings, designs and ceramics. The museum is situated in Coss le Vivien, just 10 minutes from the Walnut Grove, and to all those who visit, a truly unique experience.
Refuge de l'Arche: The Refuge de l'Arche in Chteau-Gontier has a story to tell about its animals; injured, sick, maltreated or abandoned - they are given a new life at the refuge when they cannot go back to their original environment. You will see, for example, the largest group of baboons in the world. Over 14 hectares, all was created (observation posts, overhangs, terraces) so that you can get close to the 850 animals (250 species) and take photos of them.
Valley of the Loire: Take a 2-hour drive to the heart of the Loire, to explore some of the best vineyards of the world, and an abundance of medieval castles.
Lat 0 59' 6" West, Long 47 53' 1" North (Driveway)
Lat 0 58' 57" West, Long 47 53' 2" North (Front Door)
The closest airport is Rennes which is a 1 hour drive.
St. Malo / Dinard is a 2 hour drive.
There is a fast train (TGV) that runs between Rennes and Paris, stopping at Laval train station.