Castle Cookery

My Father’s lack of acceptance that ‘Filmmaking‘ is a proper job, and that ‘casual blogging and occasional promo video for raves’ is NOT an acceptable lifestyle, nor a Career route, anyone ‘sane’ should explore, doesn’t often work in my benefit. Family occasions are filled with hints that I should have been social worker, or  an Estate Agent, ‘you’d make a great Estate Agent, you’ve got the personality for it’. What a way to call someone a nobhead. The number of times I’ve woken up to a text message containing a link to for a catering job or apprentice chef role, in a state of bemusement and tutted loudly are countless. However recently there was a benefit to this treatment, in the state of what i can only imagine was drunken desperation, my ‘Father’ booked me into a one day Mediterranean (probably based on my tanned and dark complexion) cookery course.

After an agricultural drive, through never-ending narrow winding roads. I cooked up a theory that all of this might be a Japanese-inspired elaborate ploy to dump me in the countryside never to find my way back to civilisation (well Margate). Alas we did arrive at Lympne Castle, far from limp, it stands tall and spectacular, superb and well just the kind of place a young naive woman would want to get married or go on a cookery course. It’s also rather close to a zoo, Port Lympne. That was an alternative theory; thrown to the Lions, or Apes more fatally.

The day started with coffee, and initial intrigue that I may be solo on the Med, alone in the Mediterranean as no one apart from hungover newly weds were present on the Castle grounds. I was delighted to eventually be joined by a Mother and Daughter, Sue and Bekka. They had South-African accents, clothes and tans that suggested they didn’t spend a lot of time in England, and cookery skills that suggested they spent even less time in the Kitchen. The challenge of seven Mediterranean meals was proposed, Ruth, our inspirational leader announced ‘I hope your hungry, cause your eating it all’. I admired her at that very moment, over the course of the next five – six hours that admiration would blossom and rise (much like our dough for the Fougasse) to an adoration. Ruth revealed to us, somewhere between the Fougasse and the Parmigiana, that she was a  cancer survivor. Tragic as it was she never lost her appetite, in fact she was eating more than ever during chemo, as we watched in owe of her and her cookery ability, it was easy to see why there was no loss of appetite. She was an effortless classy cook.

The first task was to kneed out the dough needed for the Fougasse, the ladies took it on with elegance, i got stuck. I opted to step up to the onion chopping challenge, as the man and in my deluded opinion the senior chef. ‘Thinly sliced’ Ruth demanded, i smiled nodded with macho assurance and began to slice ……. open my thumb. Literally first action with the blade lead to the cold tap being run and the sympathy/pity of three women being aimed at me. Plastered up I battled through and together, we commandeered the Med and sailed through the seven courses.

The antecedent threat of ‘you’re eating it all’, didn’t seem as daunting when the banquet table was laid. It consisted of, a Fougasse, easily the freshest bread i’ve ever been stuck to. A greek Lamb stew which was simply Stew-pendous.  A Parmigiana which gave whole new meaning and purpose to aubergine. A Shallot Tarte tartin with Goats Cheese, which was so incredible that if a gang of Goats were to sample it they would attempt, heavy hoofed as the they are, to milk each other in a frenzied search to replicate the taste. Sicilian style Fish stew which would send the most passionate vegans searching for Dory. A not quite Mediterranean ‘Za’atar Chicken Mate’ was an Aussie alternative to BBQ Chicken thighs (‘Mate’ added for comic/stereotypical effect), were followed by Portuguese custard tarts. So good they were that it almost warrants  forgiving the Portuguese football team for their actions this summer.

So if you’re trying to escape your fate as an Estate agent or you’re just looking for a day out in Lympne where you don’t just stare at animals but actually marinate them, stew them, beat and eat them, then look no further than the Garden of England Cook School (Vegetarians course available) . The wide range of courses welcome all levels, just make sure you bring an equal appetite to Ruth’s appetite to teach, because remember no matter what ‘you’re eating it all’.





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