A Culinary Tour of France

 

COMING SOON! A Culinary Tour of France with le Calabash.

Le Calabash takes you on an exclusive Culinary Adventure through France’s finest food, wine and cultural regions. Come and enjoy a second to none gourmet experience, learning skills and techniques through hands on cooking classes with award winning chefs and visits to the markets.

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Indulge in classic French cuisine and dine at Michelin-star restaurants. Discover wine estates, taste some of France’s most celebrated wines and sample regional specialities. Experience many of France’s most well-known attractions including le Mont Saint Michel, the Eiffel Tower, les Châteaux de la Loire, the Medieval town of Carcassonne and top cities such as Bordeaux, Nice, Paris, Bayeux, Lyon… To include dining at le Train Bleu, Paul Bocuse, Gordon Ramsay, the Old Stable.

A journey through France that will leave you with many special memories.

Cardamom

The queen of spices took time to introduce itself to the French culinary scene. Then it was able, thanks to its lemony flavour and camphor, to attract chefs, pastry chefs and chocolatiers who have learned to manipulate its presence to tame its potential to overpower.

Origin

Both genera are native to India, the largest producer until the late 20th century.

The German coffee planter Oscar Majus Kloeffer introduced Indian cardamom to cultivation in Guatemala before World War I and by 2000 that country had become the biggest producer and exporter of cardamom in the world, followed by India. Some other countries, such as Sri Lanka, have also begun to cultivate it.

Elettaria pods are light green, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.

It is the world’s third-most expensive spice, surpassed in price per weight only by vanilla and saffron.

Known for thousands of years as a perfume and a medicinal plant, it was quickly used in cooking, particularly in pain d’épices from the twelfth century. It is the star of Indian and Asian cuisines, but it is also very popular in Africa and in Northern Europe, where it was discovered by the Vikings.

Finns, Norwegians and Swedes who use it in cured meats, pastries and hot drinks. In France, it was used for a long time in teas and infusions, but chefs and pastry chefs, thanks to their travels, integrate it more and more into savoury and sweet dishes.

Taste

The taste varies depending on the type of cardamom. The green one is considered as the most perfumed, is both peppery and lemony, and one to two capsules are sufficient to flavour a dish for four to six people. The black cardamom, named “grand cardamom” leans towards camphor and has a very strong flavour.

The white cardamom, obtained by the bleaching of the green, reveals a flavour of pine sap.

However, all of them bring an abundance of freshness into a dish.

The ‘le Calabash’ approach to working with Cardamom

Both Alison and Sidney use cardamom when they have the inspiration to introduce an Eastern flair into the dish they are creating. Alison believes that chocolate and cardamom is a marriage made in heaven and her Madagascan chocolate and Cardamom Macaron is an all-time favourite with ‘le Calabash’s’ French clientele.

Sidney, who grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal says that he has known the cardamom from a young age and that each and every time he works with it, that it takes him back to his childhood and the flavours of a Durban Indian Curry.

In powder, cardamom loses its perfume quickly and given its expensive price, it is a shame to use it this way.

The seeds in the capsules must be used carefully to gain more taste. Roast them slightly in a pan or crush them before cooking them. For a long time, cardamom was used in shortbreads, madeleines, muffins, brioches, cakes and crumbles and also go well with pears, apples and citrus.

In the school, cardamom perfumes many pastries like panna cotta, macarons, flans, eclairs and is especially effective in flavouring lemon and chocolate cakes. Red fruits, cardamom and chocolate are a perfect marriage.

Take a ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and explore working with this exotic spice in your kitchen more often.

www.lecalabash.com

Sosaties

Sosaties

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A Cape Malay dish that originated from Malaysia, called Sesates, this is an all time favourite on the South African Barbecue, served with rotis and South African fruit chutney.

Serves 4/6

Ingredients

  • 1kg boned leg of lamb
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger, freshly chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 275ml cups malt vinegar
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 24 dried apricots, soaked in water for 1 hour

Method

  1. Cut lamb into bite-size cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Peel onions and cut into eighths and separate fillets.
  3. Peel garlic and slice thinly.
  4. Gently stir cloves, bay leaves, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, onions and garlic with the lamb.
  5. In a bowl, whisk vinegar, sugar, salt and apricot jam together. Pour over lamb and mix. Cover with cling film and marinate in a refrigerator for about 16 hours.
  6. Strain meat and skewer the lamb, onion, apricot and bay leaf evenly on to skewers*.
  7. When grilling on the Barbecue or a grill pan, lightly brush with a little oil.

* if using wooden skewers, soak for 15 minutes in water, as this will prevent them from burning on the BBQ and drying out the meat

http://www.lecalabash.com

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Pumpkin Fritters

As we have Thanksgiving on our doorstep, we thought it would be nice for us to share a classic South African favorite with our American friends. South Africans love Pumpkin and Butternut Squash. Here is a le Calabash favorite and Happy Thanksgiving to all our American Culinary Adventurers.

Pumpkin Fritters
This is a classic Cape Malay dish with sweetness and spice.
Really nice with Lamb, Venison and East Asian Fish Dishes.

It is important to ensure the pumpkin is well drained of all its excess liquid, dry out in a sauce pan by cooking over a low heat without a lid.

A Non-stick pan will work wonders when preparing this dish

Ingredients

• 2 cup cooked pumpkin
• ½ cup flour
• ½ tsp salt

• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2tbsp caster sugar
• 2 large eggs
• sunflower oil, for frying
• cinnamon sugar for dusting (75% sugar-25% ground cinnamon)

Method

1. Place all ingredients, except eggs in a mixing bowl with paddle and place on slow speed.
2. Add eggs one by one and mix till you have a thick batter. The batter should hold its shape when spooned.
If the batter is too stiff, add a little milk, or if to runny, add a little flour
3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
4. Scoop a heaped tbsp of batter and drop into pan, but ensure they do not touch.
5. Fry until firm and golden brown, flip over and fry.
6. The fritters will puff up slightly, but deflate a bit as you take them out of the pan. To test, press lightly on the fritters and they will tend to spring back up when done
7. Serve hot with plenty of dusted cinnamon sugar.

Le Calabash’s African Chocolate Macaron, Step by Step

  1. Stir the food colouring into the first quantity of aged egg whites and add this to the bowl of ground almonds and icing sugar but do not stir.

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2. Add the meringue to the bowl of icing sugar and ground almonds, stir and then folded in the chocolate.

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3. Mix well with a spatula, then work on the mixture with your spatula (macaronner) moving your spatula in small circles and going back and forwards to press out the oxygen from the whites. Do this for no more than a few minutes until you have a smooth mixture. The result should form a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the surface.

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4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain nozzle – No. 7. Pipe out the desired size of rounds pressing the nozzle down on the paper then finishing off with a flourish to obtain a nice round and leaving a space between each round as they do spread out.

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5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 minutes, opening the oven twice at 8 and 10 mins to let out the steam.When ready leave on the baking tray until cool and then peel or scrape them off carefully with a palette knife.Marry up the discs in pairs one row flat side down and one row flat side up.

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Dreaming of Le Calabash, by Lizzy W.

I woke up this morning with a really bad travel itch, and it set me back to the last trip I took in France.  It has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to go to culinary school of some sort.  About 2 years ago I attended Le Calabash, a cooking school in the Loire Valley in France, and since then my passion has only grown stronger.  It was one of the best experiences of my life – I still can’t believe I traveled there alone to do it, my very first time out of the country.

Buildings out of a dream

It all started when I stumbled across a site called “The International Kitchen“, and saw that you could book one week culinary trips to just about anywhere around the world.  When I read all the reviews, it was clear if I was going alone, I was going to go to Le Calabash.  Every piece of advice I read talked about how kind Sydney and Allison were, and that as soon as you arrived you felt like you were at home – and that is EXACTLY how I felt.  It has been two years since Sid picked me up from the train station in Tours, and we made that 20 minute drive to the Relais Manor Housein Yzeures sur Creuse.

Duck in orange grand marnier sauce

It’s one of the oldest towns in that province, and there is less than 1500 inhabitants within the region.  We had the afternoon to get settled in, jog by the creek, and discover the town (it was really cool, it’s almost as if it had been frozen in time).  When I think back on it now, it almost seems like a dream, everything was just so perfect.  It was 6 days of sunrise to sunset cooking, sightseeing, market tours, dinners out in different towns, and a group of people I would never forget.  Every morning we woke up, piled into their vans, and made the 3 minute drive down to the school, gourmet breakfast waiting.  Fresh baguettes, Allison’s croissants, jams, fresh cheese from the dairy farms, yogurt, meats, eggs… I could keep going but I’m making myself hungry.  Our days were filled with endless recipes, eating, laughing… I can’t describe how much I miss it!  I even got sick the second to last night, and sweet Allison took me in to her house from the hotel, and watched over me in their guest bedroom.  Like I said, as soon as you arrive it’s like you are family.

castle selfie

I highly suggest if you ever want to do a culinary vacation of some kind, this is the one to take.  It was one of the most breathtaking trips I have ever been on, and I learned more than I ever thought I could.  Until next time, I’ll reminisce about the amazing Loire Valley.

chocolate souffle - it didn't fall!

amazing beef and polenta

Amazing farmers market

Le calabash

Produce Market