Hello and welcome to my first newsletter - Hugh's disappeared over the hill filming, so I thought I'd take advantage of his temporary absence and bring you up to date with what's been going on here at River Cottage HQ... I've been filming for the new series too. In the spring I helped build the duck house that was to house our Aylesbury ducks for the summer...5 months later, they were fattened up and ready for our first ever duck fair! It was a great success - the Bramble Farm gang came down with the first batch of sausages from the pigs we started them off with in the spring, Gill and Hugh got down to some serious beetroot PR, and despite a couple of showers we had a great time, celebrating all things duck! We even had a duck herder who showed us how it was done...
Apart from the ducks, we've been filming lots of other stories to make up our new River Cottage Autumn series. I don't want to give too much away, but following on from the success in Bristol, we've been trying to get more people to "reclaim the land" - sharing it, getting communities working on it together, and most importantly growing together. It's something we'd like to look at doing down here at Park Farm - all the staff have been given the opportunity to have their own allotment space, and we may even look at inviting some local schools to join us too!
Watch the new series to find out more - the first programme is on 16th October at 8pm on Channel 4.
It's not just the newsletter I've taken over ;) some of you may know I've moved into HQ to become the real full-time smallholder. It's becoming quite a journey, but a great way to go back to the beginning of the 'Road to River Cottage' - Hugh's 'Food Aquisition Continuum' (FAC), which can be found in the River Cottage Cookbook
I've also been spending some good quality time in the garden with Mark Diacono. The lack of real summer means we are keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of our crop of tomatoes - they've done pretty well considering, but a little early October sun could be just what we need to get them nice and ripe...
We had a lucky escape with the pink fir apple potatoes. They're famously susceptible to blight, but luckily our ever vigilant garden team spotted it early, on the leaves, so we chopped the tops off and managed to get it before the blight went down the stem into the potatoes. As a result, we've a magic crop of the finest potatoes you can get! We've also got a small harvest of Szechuan pepper from our young hedge - this fantastic September has made the difference in getting some ripe, and Ray and the team are very keen to try making some salami with it!
We'll let you know how we get on....
If you're starting out for the first time on the 'FAC' or coming back around like Steve, we're now offering the original, but newly re-covered Hardback of The RC Cookbook for just £10 - you can't find it cheaper anyway else!
River Cottage Events
Perfect Preserve Competition: Winners announced
Judging the Preserve Competition was a TOUGH task for our panel of experts (Tim, Gill, Liz and Pam). They couldn't narrow the winning preserves down to three so they settled on four! We don't usually bend the rules, but we wanted a balance of different types of preserves and the final four ticked all our preserving boxes, all in their own unique ways. The winning four were
Fiona Colonnese's amazing Indian type SPICY APPLE CHUTNEY
Reka Blazsek's smooth and intense and very beautifully presented BLACKCURRANT CHEESE
Sandra Robinson's FAULD FRUITY a fabulous mix of fruits producing a fragrant fruit spread.
Andrew Rumming's SPELEOPLUMS that were perfectly preserved in a mix of dark rum and sugar.
Fiona, Andrew and Sandra will be joining us for their prize day in two weeks. Keep an eye on our events blog to find out how they got on. Reka couldn't join us as she lives in Hungary, so we have invited her to join our Preserved Winter course in January. Thank you to all those who entered and the final 30 should have their own signed copy of Pam's Preserves book, landing on their door mat any day.
Caroline Finch, Shaggy Parasol found on Devon coast.
Great Mushroom Hunt
There is obviously no shortage of the strange and the edible lurking in our woods and fields, judging by the wonderful photos we have received for our competition. Keep them coming to email@example.com with the chance of winning a private forage with John in 2009 and supper at our Friday Night event
Mushroom fever has sold most of our tickets for 2008, but there are a few tickets left hiding in the undergrowth on our Mushroom Foraging days during October. Or why not get the date you want and book early for 2009.
As the Christmas season is fast approaching us, we thought we would let you know about our range of private and original events to celebrate Christmas with your friends, family or with your clients or colleagues to your own specification. Click here for some ideas to fire up your festive imagination!
Pheasant Shoot and Game Butchery day
As we mentioned last month we have teamed up with a local shoot to run a day of pheasant shooting and game butchery with our meat butchery guru Ray Smith. Click here to read about all the details.
Last Minute Tickets Bonfire Night Bonfire night promises to be another roaring success on Wednesday 5 November 2008. Join the team round the fire with mulled cider and canapés followed by a delicious seasonal four course supper which even Guy would have been pleased with for his last supper.
Join the King of the Game Join Ray Smith, on Monday 3 November 2008 as he demonstrates how to skin a rabbit whilst you pluck and draw a pheasant. Or if Venison is more your style, join Ray on Sunday 30 November for another installment of Venison in a Day.
Spend a weekend in butchery heaven as Ray demonstrates how to deal with a Lamb and Beef carcass. Lamb in a Day is on Friday 14 November and Sunday 16 November for Beef in a Day. These courses only run once a year, so book now to avoid having to wait another year.
Axminster Local Food Store & Canteen
It's Chocolate Week (13- 19 October)! The highlight of the week will be 16 October when we'll be joined by the lovely people from Chococo in Swanage, Purbeck who will be in Store to run a number of chocolate themed events throughout the day including workshops for adults and children.
Both the adult and children's workshops are £10 per ticket and can be bought directly from the Store, or by calling 01297 631715. All children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
The River Cottage Canteen is now taking group bookings for Christmas and New Year. Our Head Chef Tim Maddams has devised a fantastic seasonal menu for groups and individuals. Call 01297 631715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
River Cottage has become synonymous with a life revolving around good food, either grown in a sustainable way at home or sourced responsibly with a proper understanding of the people and land that produce it.
The theme for this year is the team at River Cottage HQ, and the twelve months will be based on twelve different seasonal activities that go on there. We start the year building a bread oven with Daniel Stevens, author of Bread and end it with Hugh's famous multi-bird roast for Christmas.
In between there is bee-keeping, fishing and herb-foraging in the Devonshire countryside, among other fun activities. River Cottage 2009, has the usual full year diary and will have a cased-in spiral-bound package. As always, it will be printed on 100% recycled paper and card, with 36 monthly recipe cards on perforated pages, full-colour photographs, seasonal tables, conversion charts, shooting seasons and directory of useful websites. Click here to order your exclusive signed copy.
We currently have an additional special offer on River Cottage 2009 where it is only £8.00 (£7.20 for members) when bought with any other item!
Christmas Goosey Gander Hamper
Tradition is the theme this year and what could be more traditional that a Goose for Christmas. And, as Pammy Riggs (our chicken "whisperer") pointed out, "a goose is not just for Christmas, you get six months worth of goose fat too".
Pammy has taken a big part in helping us with the limited edition organic goose. It will be specially butchered in order for you to follow three of Hugh's recipes taken from The River Cottage Year book, so it won't arrive like a normal oven ready bird. The giblets will be retained as will the all important neck skin, which will be left intact for you to use as a "sausage" skin for a salami-style stuffed neck. Hugh will also be telling you how to confit the legs and roast the breast in a traditional way. We will also be including a host of other Christmassy delights made by producers local to us and which can also be found at our Local Produce Store in Axminster. Click here for more information and to order yours.
River Cottage Meat Boxes
We have launched a range of organic meat boxes, prepared to order and ready for collection from the Store in Axminster or direct by post Click here to purchase.
The meat is being produced by Sydling Brook Organic Farm, set at the head of the beautiful Sydling valley in Dorset. Sydling Brook and River Cottage share a belief in traditional, mixed farming - based on rotations of crops and livestock to naturally build soil fertility, improve soil structure and to control pests and disease. These traditional breeds of animals are treated with the highest respect "we believe happy animals grazing on home grown fodder, maturing slowly, produce wonderful meat."
Membership update: Special Offers For Members Only: River Cottage Honey
You will be pleased to hear that we have managed to squeeze a few more jars of honey from the bees here at Park Farm exclusively for our Members to buy. Click here to find out more. This will be on a first come first served basis.
River Cottage Sheepskins
We have a few very special sheepskins available to members only. These have been raised at Park Farm and tanned by our friends at Fenland Sheepskins. Members only please click here to order yours.
And don't forget Members can use the HQ farmhouse for private events without paying the usual facility fee.
After the huge success of River Cottage Spring what better way than to follow it with River Cottage Autumn? Hugh expertly guides us through the latest seasonal produce via fantastic challenges, interesting characters (old and new) and delicious recipes. See the team in action. Ray has a new butcher's apprentice, and find out what happened to the Bristol allotment gang once the cameras had stopped rolling and what their latest venture is.
Don't miss it! Thursday 16th October C4 8pm and then 23rd/30th October and 6th November.
Jobs at River Cottage
Would you like to join the River Cottage Team? We are currently recruiting energetic and enthusiastic people with a willingness to work in a busy environment and an interest in excellent local food. For further details please visit our jobs section.
This month our friends at www.freerangereview.com have another fantastic prize for you...
All you have to do for a chance to win this months fantastic prize, is visit Free Range Review, become a reviewer (if you're not already), and leave a review for a foodie business you know - you can add a business you like as well as discover hundreds of foodie places, added, rated and reviewed by your local community.
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