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.

A Jewel of the Loire Valley ; Château Villandry

In our new French Culinary Adventure le Calabash take you to the stunning Château of Villandry, the last of the great Châteaux of the Loire built during the Renaissance. The sober elegance of its architecture combined with the charm of its outstanding gardens make this one of the Jewels of World Heritage.

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The lands where an ancient fortress once stood were known as Colombier until the 17th century. Acquired in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, France’s Controller-General for War under King Francis I, a new château was constructed around the original 14th-century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England to discuss peace.
During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 19th century, Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte.

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Its famous Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. The gardens are laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges. In 1934, Château de Villandry was designated a Monument historique. Like all the other Châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site.

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bonds@lecalabash.fr | http://www.lecalabash.com 

The beautiful historic city of Tours

On a Culinary Adventure with le Calabash we visit the beautiful historic city of Tours where you will explore both the indoor ‘Les Halles’ food market and the twice weekly outdoor market, you will amazed by all the incredible fresh and local products.

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We visit the old town which clusters around place Plumereau; its old houses restored to their former glory. Today this is the place for pavement cafes and people watching in the summer. Stroll the smaller, narrow streets like rue Briçonnet and you step back into the historic medieval city. To the south you’ll find a Romanesque basilica, the Cloitre de St-Martin and the new Basilique de St-Martin. You’re in the place which was once on the great pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. St-Martin was a soldier who became bishop of Tours in the 4th century and helped spread Christianity through France. His remains, rediscovered in 1860, are now in the crypt of the new Basilique.

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The other old part, the cathedral quarter, on the other side of the main Rue Nationale, is dominated by the Cathédrale St-Gatien, a flamboyant Gothic building with 12th-century decorated stonework covering the outside. Inside the highlights are the 16th-century tomb of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne’s two children, and the stunning stained glass.

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bonds@lecalabash.fr | http://www.lecalabash.com 

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.

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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