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An Original Farm-to-Table Spot: Cooking Classes on a French Farm


France Culinary Retreat Camont CharcuterieKitchen at CamontTim Clinch

While I love the pace of a vibrant city like Paris, I’m a New England girl at heart. As such, there’s nothing like a big green vista or a vast ocean to make me feel at home.

On my latest trip abroad – which started off with a bang last week at the lovely Chateau de Raissac (more to come on that later) – I’m scheming up several more excursions beyond the fairest city to see the landscapes of Normandy and explore the farms and vineyards of Provence. While bopping across the country, I’m hoping to make a short jaunt to visit a new virtual friend, Kate. We met on Twitter, but I already feel like we’re best friends.

Culinary Retreat France Camont RadishesKitchen at CamontTim Clinch

This lovely lady is also American but, unlike me, she’s not the forever-tourist longing to feel at home abroad. Kate Hill is completely at home on a gorgeous 18th-century, 2-acre farm in Gascony, a region about four hours by train from Paris that she calls “the kitchen of France,” due to its long growing season, ripe land and access to loads of water.

And what is Gascony specifically known for? Oh, just true farm-to-table cooking! You know farm-to-table; it’s the food movement that was way famous over in the European countryside for a few millenia before we Americans decided it was chic a few years ago.

Seriously: Gascony is legendary for pillars of French cuisine like ripe produce, fresh herbs, foie gras, truffles, wine, and the regional delight known as Armagnac.

And Kate should know. She’s a farmer, cookbook author, professional cook, photographer and teacher who liaises with local butchers, bakers and Armagnac-makers in an effort to highlight only the best for her clients. She’s been published in top tier publications like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and The New York Times. She’s also a real sweetheart.

Culinary Retreat France Kitchen at Camont Fava BeansKitchen at CamontTim Clinch

Are you (like me) looking for a total immersion? I’m hoping to visit Kate for a tiny lunch feast, but my real dream is to spend up to a week (or three) with her learning true Gascon cookery. In a 5-day program alone, I’d learn about the art of butchery and charcuterie, preparing cassoulet and coq au vin and baking traditional baguettes.

Culinary Retreat France Kitchen at Camont 1Kitchen at CamontTim Clinch

Are you looking for an overnight trip from Paris? If you only have a day or weekend, Kate can customize a program just for your group, which will include visiting the best local purveyors (also known as “her friends”) and cooking up a feast together from your finds. Afterward, retreat to your farm-style room to sleep it off and re-energize (for a good night’s sleep and energy) for more eating the next day. You’ll leave with a true understanding of how it all works – from growing, to shopping, to cooking.

Are you a professional or budding food blogger, stylist or photographer? Then put her Natural Light, Natural Food weekend class on your wish list. It’s also on my list, perhaps for a big birthday some year soon. (Yes, my wish list is damn long. My poor, poor husband, eh?)

Whichever class you opt for, you’ll be in good company, as Kate has hosted top food stylists, budding cheese makers and even top cookbook publishers. She’s totally the real deal.

Camont France Culinary Retreat ArmagnacKitchen at Camont – Tim Clinch

No time to visit Gascony but serious about French cooking? She’s got you covered too. Check out Kate’s delicious recipes online and don’t miss a post on her blog.

Kate can be reached online at her website, via email at katehill@gmail.com or via phone at (33) 05 53 47 56 29. Mention Maggie when you reach out, as she’d be so tickled to know her Twitter buddy sent you.

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Written by Maggie Battista for the Hip Paris Blog. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.

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Written by Maggie Battista

Maggie BattistaPassionate about fine dining and old-fashioned hospitality, Maggie is focused on finding hidden, authentic food gems and is absolutely in love with the creamy, salty butter sold all over Paris. She also runs an online magazine and market called Eat Boutique, where she discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. Maggie’s based in Boston, with frequent trips to Paris, Brooklyn, Maine, and northern California.

Website: Maggie Battista, blogger

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Posted in Food, Green, Tours and Classes, Travel | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “An Original Farm-to-Table Spot: Cooking Classes on a French Farm”

  • Stephanie says:

    This all looks and sounds fabulous! And nothing sounds better than farm to table cooking.

    I haven’t signed up for a program like this one but I have been enjoying trips to the market where I pick out just enough for a few meals before returning again. Love it, love France

  • Kristen says:

    Wow – this is like a week of dreams come true!

  • Podchef, Oooh, yes, I know about Duckfest – so fun! Kate and I are meeting up when she’s in Boston! We’re thinking about other fun things too… :)

  • Podchef says:

    Great Piece! Kate has a truly magic world in Camont.
    Maggie, Kate is coming to my farm in Maine this winter for Duckfest! You should check it out and see if you can make it. We’d love to have you!

  • Sandy, let’s all wish for that winning lottery ticket, as I’d meet you there at every one of her classes!

    Jen, so glad to hear that we’re so like-minded. Thanks for reading!

    :)

  • Jen Laceda says:

    I just discovered your blog and I love it. I’m obsessed with the whole farm-to-table movement as well! Anyway, I’m going to visit here often…See you around!

  • Sandy says:

    Ohhh I wish I had a winning lottery ticket to attend each and every one of her classes. Thank you for sharing this and I love reading your blog and looking at your wonderful photos.
    Sandy

  • Hi Kim,
    I live in New England but Camont is in Gascony. It’s supposed to be gorgeous and I cannot wait for a visit. Have a nice day!
    Maggie

  • this sounds and looks incredible. I have never been to New England, shocking since I use to live in Ottawa-Canada. I’m sure it would have been a nice drive. Perhaps when I return to visit my family?

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