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.


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.


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




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


  • 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


  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




Brittany Shortbread with Wild Strawberries, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Shiso Sorbet and a Lemon Crème.


Here is a little information of the Shiso Leaf, a ingredient we use at ‘le Calabash’


Both ornamental, medicinal, food and aromatic, the shiso leaf has existed for centuries in Japan, China and Korea, but does not have the same name depending on the country. It is a sacred plant in Asia where it is believed to have anti-allergic properties and it is highly recommended to alleviate stress. Besides its presence in the kitchen, the purple shiso leaf is also used as a preservative or dye.


The raw green shiso leaf has a minty taste, with a long freshness subtly accompanied with a touch of cumin. The purple shiso leaf has a more tangy taste with a touch of basil and a hint of ginger. However, when the shiso leaf is cooked it then loses some of its aromatic power.


It’s not the easiest product to find. The first place to look for Shiso is at the market, head straight for the market gardener’s stall who sells aromatic herbs such as basil, mint or coriander. Alternatively, it is possible to grow it at home because it has adapted to our climate, but it will need plenty of sun and water. As for shiso juice, it can be found in Japanese groceries.


Fruit is undoubtedly the partner of this herb and it can be used as a garnish for desserts; such as a raspberry tart, a pineapple tartare, an apricot clafoutis or a lemon or strawberry cream. It is also possible to mix the leaves with sugar. The shiso juice can be used to make a jelly to pour onto a panna cotta or used to flavour ganache or to create ice creams and sorbets.

Seeing this Amstel advert touches my very soul as it in so many ways mirrors my days as a youngster nearly 42 years ago, and nothing more than a teenager.

At the age of sixteen I left home after being expelled from school and it took me nine weeks walking the streets to find a position in the then 5*President Hotel in Johannesburg as a kitchen hand.

For eleven months I slept in my car in the underground carpark and it was the love and kindness of an Italian Chef and several Zulus in the ‘Grill’ kitchen that helped me on my way and the opportunity given to me by The British Company,Trust House Forte that set me on a course that I would never look back on.

To this day, I strongly believe that there is nowhere like the kitchen, where true friendships are born. Be it in a Professional or Home kitchen! It’s an Adventure, second to none!
#Chef #cookingschool #culinaryschool #pastryschool