Guest review: Mike relives his French cookery break in Gramont, Gascony
Mike and his friend decided to celebrate their 50 year friendship anniversary in style, so they chose the all inclusive French cookery short break with hosts David and Vikki.
I got to have a chat with Mike for the inside scoop on how his three nights went (which led to us talking about food – turns out we have a lot in common). Here’s what he had to share:
Who else was on the holiday?
There were two American couples, another couple from Britain, three women and two other male solo travellers. There were about 14 of us total, covering all ages from 20s to 70s. Overall, it was a great mix of people and we all got along really well.
What was your typical day like?
The day started with a great breakfast, and then we were split into two groups. One group cooked in the house with David, while the other went to the neighbouring Auberge to cook with French chef Bernard. While Bernard is very laid back and relaxed, David is very funny and works you – they are a great contradiction to each other.
They both demonstrate before we follow, from the very basic (like how to crack an egg) up to the complex (like fancy desserts and gutting fish). Over the four days, we covered all the courses to complete two perfect meals, which included a lot of emphasis on plating and presentation.
I mean: Each. Meal. Was. Perfect.
How did you spend your evenings?
After learning how to plate to perfection, we spent the evenings eating, drinking, laughing and exchanging stories all night.
How was the holiday overall?
Although this is classified as a ‘short cookery break’, it should be known that it is not short of food and wine.
The two days we had lunch there, it was unlimited food and wine with amazing views, including the snow-covered Pyrenees. It is located in a lovely, tiny village of about 13 houses, and every Wednesday, the Chefs invite the neighbours to join us for a big family dinner.
This holiday is extremely sociable regardless of how many are on it. We also got a chance to do a shop at a local market, visit a Chateaux, and learn some history about the local area. Other than this, we really focused on perfecting our skills in the kitchens.
How did your cooking improve during your stay?
My bechamel sauce greatly improved, along with creme anglaise and chocolate mousse. Also, I now have much-improved fish skills, especially skinning.
What was your favourite dish?
The duck and a gorgeous cassoulet renowned throughout the region.
What did you think of your hosts and tutors?
The hosts were absolutely brilliant and could not do enough for you. I loved having two chefs and their different styles. Vikki (the host) is from Essex, and is always on the ball – everything was spotless, and her generosity knew no bounds.
What advice would you give to other travellers?
This may not be great for a vegan or vegetarian, as foie gras isn’t for everyone! But if you’re open with your food, it will go beyond your expectations.
How was the value for money?
For having everything included and not having to think about paying for anything after you book, it is absolutely worth it.
For the amount of fun we had, the knowledge we obtained, the limitless food and wine, and the new friends we made? Priceless.
If Mike has your mouth watering like mine is writing this, you can view the itinerary of this all-inclusive cookery holiday with David and Vikki on our site.