We have recently discovered Daylesford Organic Farm near Stow-on-the-Wold. Amongst other wonders, they run cookery courses there, including a Chef School in October, requiring six evenings of commitment over six weeks. But it is a busy time of year for me and, much as I'd love to go, I know that it will just add to my stress levels and reduce my pleasure in the experience.
(Before pontificating more about the assembling of food, a quick advert for Daylesford, if you fancy a trip out and some great food. There is a wonderful store, selling organic food from artisan suppliers and lots of produce from the farm itself. There is a marvellous refrigerated cheese room, which stinks, but sells wonderful local cheeses. You can visit the farm to see how the animals are kept and how the food is produced. They also sell kitchen equipment and accessories. There is a garden shop, a spa and one of the most expensive clothes shops ever.
The highlight for me, though, is the great restaurant, selling fresh and delicious food, open for breakfast, lunch, tea and, on Fridays and Saturdays, supper. (A word that I usually find intensely annoying - it's dinner, isn't it? We're not living in a Jane Austen novel! However, I forgive them in this instance because the food is so good.) They cook before your eyes, using a stone-clad wood burning oven with huge stainless steel flues disappearing up through the ceiling and beyond. The chef places the food in skillets, moving it either nearer to the heat or further away according to how great a temperature is required. The decor is plain, simple and stylish. White, light and bright.
For the greedy reader who appreciates foody detail, when I went with H for lunch, we had three salads, the best of which was raw slaw with toasted cashews, chilli, ginger and soy dressing. Delicious. And assembled. I must try it. I think it fits my skills. And, luckily, H bought me the Daylesford cookbook ('A Love for Food: Recipes and Notes for Cooking and Eating Well') for Christmas so I have the recipe.
When I went with S for supper, we had the most brilliant farm baked bread and hot cheddar dip. A sort of sophisticated, deconstructed cheese on toast (although the bread wasn't toasted). Then we also shared a starter: buratta (mozzarella cheese), heritage tomatoes, mint and sourdough. Yum. Then I had lemon and thyme wood roast chicken with salsa verde, heritage tomato and basil panzanella salad and he had charcoal grilled hanger steak, watercress, rosemary potatoes and balsamic dressing. To finish, ice cream for him and strawberry jelly and strawberry sorbet for me.)
So, having gone off on a diversion to Daylesford, I'll leave my thoughts on the art of assemblage for another day - and try to remember that this is a renovation blog and not a restaurant review!