“Nothing prepared us for our fabulous day of cooking at Le Chateau de Mailly-the fabulous kitchen, magnificent gardens, and luxurious house. It has been an experience to repeat!” – Angela Walsh
The sun was bright and full on a recent winter morning as I packed some of my favorite ingredients and cooking utensils in my car and headed off to e Chateau de Mailly. The day before, I had been to the market in Vermenton. It was alive with the energy that always comes before the festive season. The anticipation of celebration hung in the air. I had ordered foie gras and also an array of rustic winter vegetables fit for a medieval feast from my favorite producer. As I scraped the frost off my front windshield I thought of the recipes that I wanted to teach– did I have all my ingredients to prepare them? Juniper berries, check. Dill, check. As they say in French - on y va.
Le Chateau de Mailly is one of my favorite locations. Each time I arrive outside its gates, I remember why. Perched on prehistoric rock formations and encircled by medieval walls, its position offers magnificent views of the Burgundian countryside. Opposite the chateau are ‘les commons’ two adjoining buildings that were constructed during the 17th century to house both servants and stables. These buildings have now been converted into stunning suites with period furnishings, wooden floors and momentous fireplaces. ‘Les commons’ is also the site of my favorite room: the kitchen. With its 20-foot tall exposed wooden beam ceilings, restored cobble stone floors and communal wooden table-not to mention the fantastic cooking facilities. It’s hard for me not to feel in awe of this working space each time I see it.
The day was to be an interactive and entertaining one. I wanted to teach my students how to make a few special dishes that could be incorporated into their Christmas celebrations. We would be making foie gras terrine, gravalax (salmon cured in salt, dill and juniper berries), hand rolled pastry, and an all time favorite - macarons.
My students arrived and the kitchen was soon a flurry of activity with foie gras slicing, salmon deboning, salt and berries crushing and dill chopping. Flour was scattered on wooden worktops and pastry was rolled.
We paused for a lunch of salmon and leek tart, mixed kale and radish salad and, of course a class of chilled Chablis to celebrate the start of celebrating. I had also made some Italian pannaforte and stollen bread to have with coffee.
We spent the afternoon mixing, colouring, piping and baking our macarons. We then had to decide which flavored filling to put in each flavored macaron!
It was a fabulous day. Everyone left feeling that a little more festive and confident that their Christmas dinner would hold few new surprises for guests and hosts alike!
Thank you to Kim, Anna, Angela and Susan for being such enthusiastic students and making this day so memorable.