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Discover french country cooking in the Cherbourg Peninsula, lower Normandy. Experience l’art de vivre à la française and treat yourself to a cooking holiday. Try new recipes, make new friends, share some time in the relaxed ambiance of Sinéad’s Wilde kitchen. Learn in a country where food is like a national sport and the weekly market is a lively meeting place as well as where there is great pride in the nation’s produce.
During this cooking vacation, you will stay in a La Blonderie, a barn conversion across the garden from the main house which provides comfortable accommodation for guests with the option of double room, twin room, or a triple room.
Choose from what was once the maid’s quarters, La chambre de la bonne, with its standard double bed, single bed in mezzanine area and en-suite with tub the stables, La porte bleue, a double or twin room with kitchenette and en-suite with tub the hay loft, or Le fenil, with its two twin or double room, both en-suite which makes it perfect for groups of four.
The accommodation has tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryers, ample parking, and free internet access. A perfect base for exploring the delights of Normandy, it is highly recommended for the guests to stay for the course, alternating cookery days with days off to visit the area or simply to enjoy the peace and quiet of La Blonderie.
Most guests have become acquainted with three-legged Tom, the cat, and Java the mare. Proud to be included in the Lonely Planet 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 and chosen among the best 200 guesthouses in France in 2013 by Figaro Magazine, La Blonderie can accommodate up to eight people comfortably in the renovated guest rooms.
Under the enticing name of the Wilde Kitchen, Irish expat Sinéad Allart (née Wilde) offers gourmet breaks in the countryside south-west of Cherbourg, as well as classes in the succulent art of cooking traditional dishes like poulet Vallée d’Auge and teurgoule, respectively, chicken with cream, and apples, and the Norman version of rice pudding.
The holidays include outings to local markets and restaurants. You also get to visit an organic cider press and cook a full meal in the centuries-old bread oven of a neighboring farm.
You will arrive at La Blonderie. It is time to relax a little and explore your surroundings. A first taste of Normandy follows for Sunday night supper, in the form of a Norman cheeseboard with salad, crusty bread, pastries, and wine or some locally produced organic cider. While you enjoy your food, you’ll also meet with your fellow “cooks" and have a perfect introduction to the cooking classes.
You will start your day at 8:00 a.m. with a continental breakfast of croissants, bread, cakes, homemade jams and jellies, artisanal apple juice, cereals, fruit, and yoghurt. At 9:00 a.m., you will proceed to go to Bricquebec, a beautiful medieval town, for the weekly market, where you’ll absorb the ambiance, pick up some fresh produce for lunch and sample, whatever is offered before your first cookery session.
At 10:30 a.m., you will begin with your first cookery session followed by lunch at 1:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., you will go on a visit to Le Père Mahieu Ciderie where the best of Normandy’s organic apples are transformed into the most delicious drinks in the forms of cider, pommeau, calvados, and apple juice.
After a guided tour of the distillery and a walk up to the orchards if the weather permits, you will be provided with various ciders, calvados, pommeau, and apple juice. You will have your evening free. Restaurant recommendations and reservations will be made for you, where necessary.
You will start your day ta 9:00 a.m. and you will enjoy a continental breakfast. At 10:30 a.m., you will go on your second cookery class in Sinéad’s Wilde Kitchen. Together, you will prepare a three-course lunch which will be enjoyed afterwards. Complete it with a glass of local, organic cider, or wine.
At 3:30 p.n., a siesta may be welcome or a chance to visit La Maison du Biscuit where keen shoppers are spoilt for choice. Soaps, souvenirs, cups and saucers, biscuits and cakes, herbs and spices, whiskeys and ciders, and lots more are on offer in this fabulous épicerie fine or else known as fine food store.
Biscuits, which made the Burnouf family fortune may be sampled over a cup of tea or coffee. Restaurant recommendations and reservations will be made for you where necessary.
You will start your day at 8:00 a.m. and enjoy a continental breakfast. At 9:00 a.m., you will prepare the ingredients for your final cookery and history class. You will start with preparing the vegetables.
Lamb will also be prepared for an afternoon of slow cooking in the bake house oven or pork loin is prepared into Orloff. Starters will be discussed and decided upon and whatever else is necessary for the unique foodie adventure which follows.
At 12:30 a.m., you will have lunch at the local restaurant Formule du Midi. At 2:30 p.m., you will go on another excursion. Bread will also be baked and a full meal is prepared and cooked in an authentic post-revolution (1789) boulangerie oven or else known as bread oven Chez François at La Ferme Auberge.
While waiting for bread to rise and the food to cook, François will give a talk on the history of the boulangerie and provide lots of anecdotes for a fun-filled, educational afternoon over a glass of his homemade apple juice or cider. A serious treat for lovers of history, terror, and food! At 7:00 p.m., you will have apéritifs with Francois and dinner will be served by 8:00 p.m..
All good things must come to end alas, so after breakfast, you will say your goodbyes. You’ll leave laden with recipes, tips and more importantly perhaps, an understanding of life in rural Normandy!
Situated in the northwest of France, Normandy is a region blessed with stunning coastlines, windswept beaches, and lush pastoral land. The quintessential image of Normandy is of beautiful landscape, green pastures dotted with brown and white Norman cows, apple orchards, calvados, good food, and plenty of beautiful creamy cheeses.
Normandy is also steeped in history, starting from the time of the Vikings to William the Conqueror to the Impressionist painters and to World War II, there is much to appeal to the visitor here.
The Wilde Kitchen is located in the Cotentin Peninsula, lower Normandy, only five kilometers from sandy beaches, three kilometers from the nearest market town, Les Pieux, and 20 kilometers from the ferry port of Cherbourg.
The Wilde Kitchen is also located off the beaten track in the small Norman village of Benoistville, in the grounds of an 18th century farm, La Blonderie, which Sinéad and Philippe began restoring in 2000. Peace and tranquility is definitely guaranteed here!
During this holiday, you will be served with daily breakfasts. During the course, you will prepare three full meals including aperitifs, starters, mains, and desserts. In-season, locally sourced ingredients are always included and over the three days you will prepare soups or salads, poultry, fish and seafood, and pork, lamb, or beef, tarts, and much more giving guests a real insight into French country cooking.
Normandy's cheese board is of the most impressive in France and contains the best-known types of cheeses outside its local area. Its most famous cheese is Camembert which comes from the village of the same name near Vimoutiers, but you can also try Neufchâtel, produced in a variety of different shapes and sizes, Pont-L'Evêque and Livarot.
Cheese in France usually served between the main course and dessert though it has been said by past guests who've felt that too much is eaten at every meal! As a result, you will be served with a welcome platter of cheese and wine on the evening of your arrival. Special dietary requirements are also available upon request.
The 600 kilometers coastline provides an abundance of fresh seafood. The lush green pastures of the Normandy countryside makes ideal grazing for dairy herds and cattle, and the apple orchards give delicious fruit that is used to make a variety of tasty drinks.
Normandy’s coastline makes it an ideal place for driving or cycling holidays. It is a very popular holiday region. The coastline is dotted with memorials, cemeteries and museums which remind of the famous Normandy landings in WWII. The Battle of Normandy, the D-Day Landing beaches and the role that Normandy played continue to be of huge interest for visitors with many coming on battlefields tours.
The Wilde Kitchen is perfectly located for exploring Normandy with its World War II museums, beaches, monuments, and much more while Bayeux is renowned for its almost 1000-year old, world-famous tapestry. The tapestry of Queen Mathilda, depicting the defeat of England by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, is only 99 kilometers away. These are all potential day-trips.
Many visitors also come to Normandy to visit Le Mont-St-Michel, a mere 146 kilometers from La Blonderie along the spectacular coastal road, known locally as ‘"la touristique." Le Mont Saint Michel is one of the most enchanting sights in France and is the second most visited tourist spot in France. Once a place of pilgrimage, Mont-St-Michel became a prison after the French Revolution, but today it is a national monument and a much sought after tourist attraction.
Cherbourg, Octeville, the largest city in the department of La Manche, is a key location for more than 50 of the most prestigious sailing events. Cherbourg also has the largest aquarium in Europe at La Cité de la Mer as well as Le Redoutable, the largest submarine open to the public in the world, launched in Cherbourg in 1967 by General de Gaulle.
Besides that, Sinéad, trained as a local tour guide, will help set you off in the right direction on your days off armed with maps and itineraries. She’ll also book restaurants, where necessary, ensuring that your time in Normandy is insightful and fun.
For those of you who prefer to explore locally such as to Le Cap de La Hague and Le Val de Saire, their breathtaking beauties are only a stone’s throw away. Garden lovers generally adore this fabulous peninsula with its amazing hydrangeas, fuchsias, and roses, to name but a few.