We are the five best friends in the world! Despite being scattered all over France, we’ve been together since middle school. We share everything, from our tiny mishaps to our happiest moments. And when it’s time to get together for a girls’ weekend, we are always on the lookout for original ideas.
This time, I’m proud to say that I’m the one who found the theme for our latest reunion: we’re going to prepare our own cocktails, with or without alcohol, and enjoy a well-deserved ‘therapy cocktail’! I came across the idea on Facebook. La Grange aux Savoir-Faire offers a selection of delicious recipes and I discovered a whole programme of delights on their website. And the added extra of the ‘natural beverages’ workshop? Our loved ones will be delighted to test our new-found skills!
- Hello, Cécile! Can you find us a hotel for the weekend?
- Of course, girls! Here’s the address: L’Auberge de l’École in Pontlevoy. It’s ideally located to visit some troglodyte caves in the Cher Valley and add to our ‘cocktail’ menu!
A get-together in an ivy-covered hotel
Here we all are! It’s great to see everyone and joke around before discovering our rooms. The rooms and the welcome are wonderful. This charming 2-star hotel with ivy-covered walls and tufa stone is a lovely surprise. We take some time to walk around the pleasant village of Pontlevoy. During the afternoon, we visit the Monmousseau cellars in Montrichard and explore the paved streets of this medieval town on the leafy banks of the Cher.
The next day, after a peaceful night and a sumptuous breakfast, we head off for our culinary lesson at La Grange aux Savoir-Faire. We’re booked in for 9am, and our band of dormice is exceptionally punctual!
A barn, a vegetable garden, passionate hosts...and us at La Grange aux Savoir-Faire!
- ‘Did you find us easily?’ asks Julie, who welcomes us with a large smile and a basket full of vegetables.
- ‘No problems! We didn’t even need the GPS!’
Our host introduces us to Amandine, gatherer and ethno-botanist, who is co-presenting our workshop. They lead us to the vegetable garden to pick seasoning for our creations, then to the kitchen of La Grange aux Savoir-Faire. This is the kitchen of my dreams. A subtle, authentic blend of stone and wood, steel and glass. It’s like something straight from a magazine on stylish homes or country-chic design. It really is pleasant here.
We get to know Julie, who tells us how she made the move from life in Paris to here. Aude, our own Parisian, seems fascinated by this unusual career path. Amandine is a local, and proudly boasts the riches of her region.
Like wonder women, we quickly don our aprons and discover the kitchen utensils, products and recipes we’ll need to make our first natural drinks.
Between jokes about our lack of experience in these types of creations, we each get to work on a recipe under the attentive eye and helpful guidance of Julie and Amandine. Laurence has opted for a cherry leaf wine, which will give us an excuse to meet up in a few months for a tasting session! Emilie, who has less patience, goes for a mulled wine with wild spices. Aude, an amateur naturopath, is tempted by an herbal infusion made from ground ivy, elderberry, thyme and lemon balm. Marina chooses a rhubarb cordial, which she hopes will go perfectly with a dry white wine or a cocktail for children. As for me, I prepare a sparkling elderberry drink which we can savour on the patio later…
Time flies at La Grange aux Savoir-Faire! Since this morning, we’ve learnt, tested, splashed the work-top a few times and taken a keen interest in each other’s recipes. We sit down to eat a delicious meal concocted by Julie. Special mention goes to the homemade cured meats, which are amazing, except for Emilie the vegetarian, who savours the tarts made with vegetables from the garden. Then we go back to our recipes, cook our fruit, leave them to rest, test flavour combinations (certain flavours clearly do not go together, but Amandine lets me try, amused by my imagination though not overly fond of my attempts!). And suddenly, it’s 5pm. We cork the last bottles and get some advice from our culinary experts on how to store our creations.
We have one last tasting session with our hosts to close this day of learning and sharing. La Grange aux Savoir-Faire is decidedly a place where we feel at ease and our respective personalities are expressed through the recipes on offer.
It’s time for us all to go back to our part of France, but we’ll meet up again for the tasting sessions! We exchange warm goodbyes with Julie and Amandine.
La Grange aux Savoir-Faire disappears behind us on this little country road which now seems so familiar to us, and the aromas of our creations fill the car.
We can’t wait to meet up again!
Originally from the Sologne region, I am a bit of an adventurer. I am very curious and love nature. I like taking the time to live life to its fullest and sharing my adventures.Discover the experiences