If you’re my facebook friend or like my Kitchen-at-Camont page then’ you’ve seen the cleaver and board headline floating around for Grrls Meat Camp this month. The event is the manifestation of several simultaneous ideas that blossomed over a year ago, when I explained why it was important to teach and share experiences with other women working in a the meat end of the business. I envisaged a time and place where we ladies could come together and teach each other, encourage one another and share our good works as well as have a good time in the French countryside with like-minded grrls. Last year 12 grrls showed up here.
Informal and fun, outside and with a kitchen, a night of bonfires and stories, lots of good food. That sort of sums of Camont most of the time. I have always thought of myself as Camp Director as students and guests come and go through the revolving French door known as Camp Camont. Grrls Meat Camp is an outreach project of my life here in Gascony.
Earlier this year, some of the grrls kicked around the idea of hosting Grrls Meat Camp in the U.S. to make it more accessible to more, we leaned on Kari Underly and Kathy Skutecki in Chicago to be our ‘grrls on the street’. After diligent research and an amazing cross referenced Excel file of Camps in the Chicago area, Kathy came up with our camp location. Kari’s been sourcing the meat for ‘workshops’ and planning our Thursday night Rendezvous in Chicago. Fifteen grrls have now signed up, from Alaska to DC, Boston to Los Angeles; This year a few smart sponsors are sending there best grrls to represent them. Some are bringing meat, desserts or wine for the ‘friday night edible show & tell’. I’ll be bringing my Gascony-in-a-Box kit: beans for cassoulet, duck fat and armagnac, of course!
We’ll come together to share our work, learn and en-coeur-age each other in the spirit of my Gascon neighbors who have opened the doors to the students who have passed through my kitchen doors. This year we are hosting two students on money donated by a former student as well contributions from the Original Grrls. Spreading the word and sharing are part of the Gascon spirit of generosity I invoke as we get together to discover who’s who at this Rendezvous. The rest of the weekend grows from this open place.
For those interested in the Next Grrl’s Meat Camp or would like to help sponsor a grrl to attend, just put your name on the mailing list by making a comment below or send me an e-mail at KatedeCamont (at) me (dot) com.
See you all in Chicago for the Rendezvous!
Today is the Fete de St Jean. It is a time for piqune-niques, village parties, birthdays, and blazing towering bonfires.
It is also the time to make Green Walnut Wine. Vin de Noix.
I wrote the recipe in my book and here. The first thing I will make when I get home on Wednesday is a big batch to fill my old glass bonbons. The walnut trees are laden this year and the Camont crew are a thirsty bunch so I’ll be scrapping together several liters of Gascon moonshine to add to the deep rosé in which to macerate… green walnuts and leaves.
The tannic, spicy mixture is ready by the first cold weather. We’ll wait until winter to taste the mid-summer fetes. I’ll wait until we light our first fire in the Jotul stove this year.
In the meantime, it’s the long light evenings of summer that are calling me and all the village night markets, friends and fetes to come. This is us… just celebrating life in Gascony.
Bonne Anniversaire JAM!
Summer table at Camont by Ms_G.
What were we doing last year at Camont? It was a big year for cherries, gatherings and a lot of cooking. This year the cherries are less abundant but the spirit of summer cooking makes up for it. We (Felix, Steph and I) are foraging the farthest corners of Camont and finding: some cherries for vinegar shrubs, the last of the elder-flowers for sirops, tender grapes leaves to brine, roses for Turkish delight, and ever present nettles for tea.
I love these iPhone pics that Kate Fletcher took last year as Dorothy from Jauntsetter and I made a version of my favorite Goat Cheese Tarte with Olive Oil pastry laid on a bed of grape leaves, topped with olives and walnuts. Like a giant Gascon Dolmas, it fed our ever expanding party accompanied by a pitchers of cold Rose and icy Pastis.
Take a look around your garden or neighborhood and see what you can find. I call it Frontdoor Foraging. Here’s the schedule of Summer events at Camont!
- July 2-6 Summer School Basix. Think of Camp-4-Cooks! join a small group each morning in the French garden and kitchen for a few hours of cooking fun. Day Camp or Sleep Over. Just 600 euros per person- for five half-days including lunch.
- July 13-15 Food, Foto & Fun! This is a overlapping weekend- our serious Natural Light Natural Food photography workshop with Tim Clinch AND a light-hearted tribute to the Bastille Breakout with Summer Breakfast Camp Cook-up.
- August 4-5 How to Bake Bread with Em. This is the only French workshop offered by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and based on his award winning book. A perfect time to earn your real bread badge.
- August 11 Kate’s Keeping Kitchen. A one day introduction to filling your French pantry with summer sun in a jar.
- Private Day Classes are available each week upon request- for more info click here!
Remember those special times when Bob and George and Willie got together and jammed all night? Or the Duke dropped by with his entourage for a mid-summer masquerade fest? How about when your favorite friends showed up with a hamper full of goodies for an impromptu pique-nique on the terrace? Put them all together, pop open a box of cold Pink Wine, and join me in celebrating the French Summer with old friends and new… at Camont!
Pop over for a weekend to bake, i-shoot & can to your heart’s content with some of my best friends. This French Summer I am booking out the Gypsy Caravan for friends only- those mad, special creative and talented friends of Camont.
Le Weekend #2, August 4 & 5 with Emm at Camont.
“How to Make Bread”- A 1-day bread making workshop with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, a.k.a. Em, based on his best selling, award-winning book.
Meet Emmanuel. Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Just call him Em.
Em lives with his family in Hastings on the South Coast of England. Originally from South Africa of a Greek family, he bakes. And bakes and bakes. And now, he teaches you to bake, too. Join Em at Camont in Kate’s Kitchen to discover the journey of good bread using organic local French heritage wheat and Em’s fool-proof, easy techniques. You’ll go home smiling with the knowledge that you too, can make good bread. Who else is coming over for a weekend? Read More
Beekeeping-at-Camont, Round 2.
A couple summers ago I trapped? caught? coaxed? a wild swarm to move into my waiting hive- la ruche. I savored the summer apiarist antics while discovering the sweet taste of Camont, letting the garden wild up, and learning from my favorite beekeeper- Narcisse Ferronato.
The winter was hard, the swarm was fickle, bee mites attacked and the bees were all gone by the spring. Like many new things I’ve attempted- making charcuterie, growing a garden, and driving an 85 foot barge- you don’t always get it right the first time around. Part of the ‘getting it right’ (or just getting it done) & part of growing up (and older) that I’ve practiced at Camont is learning that once is for dilettantes. Pros work, create, and practice all the time. (Sorry, but cooking once a weekend doesn’t make you a chef!) So at the end of last year, I took my sorry/sad/empty ruche to Narcisse’s small bee farm underneath the Chateau Madaillan and left it with him to over winter for some loving care. Today I picked it up- 3/4 full of fat honey and healthy bees and ready to welcome them back to Camont’s bounty. I am ready to begin again and really learn to keep bees. So what’s bloomin’ at Camont?