Back in December I was struggling to find Ryan a fun Christmas present. I normally buy him a couple of things that he would like and then I always like to buy a surprise present too. Last year I just could not find anything that was a little bit different. Then I thought perhaps a cooking class for us both would be fun. It’s something we haven’t done before, we both like cooking and it would be a nice day out. I searched high and low for somewhere good to go and I stumbled across Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean.
I was instantly impressed with their selection of different classes on offer from pasta making, bread making, game cooking, seasonal classes, food from around the world such as Greek or Sri Lankan and loads more. I had no idea which one Ryan would like best, so I bought a voucher, so he could choose instead. I ordered everything online and it arrived on the doorstep a day or so later all ready for Christmas (the process was really simple).
Ryan decided he would like to do the game cooking class so I booked us in and on Sunday we headed to the cookery school for our class. If I am completely honest, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I thought the class would be good, but wasn’t sure how good it would be. I was a little bit concerned that perhaps it would be a lot of demonstrations and not much hands on time, which isn’t really what I wanted. I could not have been more wrong! The class was so much better than I expected and it was a perfect balance between demonstrations and hands on time.
Our class was for a group of 12 and lasted 3 hours. In that time we were able to learn how to make a venison and chocolate casserole, wild boar meatballs and tomato sauce, tea smoked duck breast, wild boar sausages and how to spatchcock a chicken. One of my favourite things about the class was that Les our instructor showed us how to use the most of all the ingredients, so that we had no wastage. For example, we had to cut the fat off of our duck breast before smoking it. He showed us how to make duck fat in the oven, so that we could roast potatoes and not have to buy the fat from the supermarket in future.
Another thing that we both loved is that the ingredients were everyday ingredients that you would have in your cupboard or fridge. There were no fancy or one off things that we would have to buy to recreate the meals at home. Again, there was no expensive equipment used either. He showed us how to smoke our duck breast using a frying pan, a cooling rack and some foil. Ryan and I had always thought you needed an actual smoker to create meals like that, but in reality we could do it with all the bits and pieces we already have at home.
As a group we were able to dig in to the casserole and meatballs at the end of the class, both of which were absolutely amazing, full of flavour and enjoyed by everyone. We were then able to bring home our duck breasts, some sausages and our chicken. In my opinion the class was fantastic value for money considering that all the ingredients were provided and we were able to bring food home, we covered so many different dishes and learnt a lot in 3 hours. Les our instructor was absolutely brilliant, gave us loads of information, taught us so many little tips and tricks and was so friendly and helpful. The group we were with were also really friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed the class. When we got back in the car we were both so happy with the class and both agreed that we would definitely go back. Once baby Owen-Gibson has arrived and life gets a little bit more settled we are hoping that we will be able to go again – our only problem will be trying to decide which class to tick off our list next!
Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean