Being invited to brilliant events is really one my favourite perks of blogging. Sally, Lindy and the team at Foodies100 have outdone themselves again: this time, they organised a VIP day at River Cottage for a select group of bloggers passionate about food. I was lucky enough to be one of them.
After a good night’s sleep at Prestoller House and the best cooked breakfast you could imagine, my friend Vicki picked me up and we made our way to River Cottage HQ in Rosie, her funky VW campervan.
Our day of blogging Started with an incredibly bumpy tractor ride, before coffee and a quick briefing in a yurt (I want one!). River Cottage HQ is a popular venue, and it is busy all year round, with all sorts of courses usually aimed at the general public, from butchery to bee keeping, gluten-free cooking and many more.
My lovely friend Sarah and I had decided to be each other’s photographer for the day, so I snapped away.
We then made butter, with 500ml double cream. Nothing else! (Mind. Blown)
All we had to do was whip cream vigorously until it formed peaks.
We then worked the whipped cream with a spatula until it started to split and a watery texture started coming out.
To quote Vicki, “It looks disgusting. It’s like scrambled egg!”
We then squeezed the watery liquid with our hands (buttermilk). We got about 200ml buttermilk.
We refrigerated our butter and later rinsed it in water to get rid of excess buttermilk before we flavoured it and shaped it. You could use anything you fancy to add flavours and texture to your butter, from salt to herbs, to edible flowers like nasturtiums.
The buttermilk and blackberries were then used to make a delicious sourdough loaf flavoured with goats’ cheese, herbs and honey.
The following session was a food styling workshop with bubbly and incredibly talented photographer Lucy.
Here are the 5 tips I picked up:
- Get lots of cookbooks with a distinctive food style, for inspiration.
- Shooting photos tethered (with a cable connected to a computer) is a way to take less photos, get as good a shot as you can the first time and therefore rely less on post editing.
- When setting up your shoot, take 3 different landscape hero shots for Twitter (one to publish in the morning, one after the school run and once in the evening for Americans coming home from work). Have another couple of shots for Instagram (square), some for Pinterest (landscape / long pins). You will need different angles for different platforms.
- The magic angle for food photography is 45 degrees.
- Autumn is here and we will probably all have more and more soup recipes. Do not worry about keeping your soup warm for the shoot. Wait for this tip, it is rather unconventional… place your plate of soup where you want it, and to create the impression steam is coming out of it, use a tampon dipped in boiling water. It will hold the steam for a few minutes. Simply hide it behind the plate of soup and shoot away!
Lunch kicked off with a quick word by Lindy then the head chef at River Cottage told us about the food we were going to be served.
The slow-cooked meat we were about to be served came from a cow slaughtered just five weeks ago.
It came with ratatouille, leeks, divine sweetcorn roasted in golden margarine, thyme, rapeseed oil and garlic. The Ciabbata-like bread we were served with it had just come out of the oven. Dessert was damsons foraged from the area with fennel meringue and freshly churned ice cream infused with coffee bean, vanilla and salt caramel.
The last session of the day for my group was a tour of the farm.
The farm itself is 90 acres. Everything produced on the farm (300 varieties of fruit and veg!) stays there and it is certified organic. They always try to grow with the environment rather than fighting against it. Their main job is looking after the soil.
We then had a networking session so we could chat and take a few photos before leaving the farm.
Here I am with Victoria!
What a day!