SEA­SONAL AND SIM­PLE

Living France - - A LA MANSION -

“That’s what I re­ally like about liv­ing here – the amount of re­ally good pro­duce” “I went to the mar­ket this morn­ing and bought some straw­ber­ries, and I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I had a straw­berry that tasted so much like a straw­berry should taste”

While their home pro­vides the ideal set­ting for the cook­ery classes and photo shoots, the abun­dance of fresh lo­cal pro­duce pro­vides the per­fect in­gre­di­ents to work with. Louise and Ian have their own potager and grow as much as they can – they cur­rently have toma­toes, peas, beans, rasp­ber­ries and pota­toes, and the toma­toes are do­ing par­tic­u­larly well.

“This is very much about us­ing fan­tas­tic French pro­duce to cook what­ever I think makes the most of the in­gre­di­ents,” says Louise. “That’s what I re­ally like about liv­ing here – the amount of re­ally good pro­duce, and the amount of for­ag­ing. You see French peo­ple out in the fields at all times of the year mak­ing the most of what’s avail­able, and that’s what’s re­ally lovely and in­spir­ing. I’m ob­sessed with sea­sonal cooking, but in my job I’m usu­ally do­ing the op­po­site – I’m al­ways work­ing four or five months ahead of the sea­sons, and con­se­quently have to buy pro­duce that looks good for photo shoots but doesn’t re­ally taste of any­thing. It’s great to be here and be able to buy pro­duce that both looks and tastes great. I went to the mar­ket this morn­ing and bought some straw­ber­ries, and I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I had a straw­berry that tasted so much like a straw­berry should taste. It’s all about sea­son­al­ity and sim­plic­ity – cooking sim­ple dishes with the best qual­ity in­gre­di­ents.”

With 25 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence as a food writer and stylist, Louise has made dishes from around the world and as a re­sult is happy to be flex­i­ble about the food she makes dur­ing the cour­ses, de­pend­ing on what the par­tic­i­pants are keen to do.

“I’m still to find out if peo­ple want to come and cook tra­di­tional French food,” says Louise. “I’m flex­i­ble but would still rather push for­ward the no­tion that as long as the in­gre­di­ents are lo­cal, and there­fore they’re French and fab­u­lous, there’s no rea­son you can’t cook some­thing and add a bit of spice to it.”

This page: Home-grown toma­toes, for­aged el­der­flower and straw­ber­ries from the mar­ket

Op­po­site clock­wise from top: Cake mak­ing is al­ways pop­u­lar with chil­dren on fam­ily cooking days; ev­ery­one sits down to­gether in the gar­den to en­joy the food they’ve made; Louise’s apri­cot tart

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