2023 Culinary Retreats at the Chateau

And here we go!

One-day Retreat on Saturday 9 September 2023

Four-days retreat from Thursday afternoon 14 September to Sunday morning 17 September 2023

It is a long story. Full of anticipation. Of heartbreak and the “coup de foudre”. Of going forward because forward usually is the only direction left. It’s a long story for long nights at the fireplace. I might tell it, someday, over a glass of that memorable wine from Saint-Maixant, when we meet.

Long story short is, as many of you are aware of, over the coming months we’re moving to our new house, a medieval fortress-turned-chic-farmhouse. It is a very special place and already dear to me, it is THE HOUSE even before I set foot in it. And I still look forward to it despite the fact it requires tremendous work in restorations. Like really tremendous. For those who know us, it won’t come as a surprise that we won’t be rushing things. No BAM here’s the plan done in twelve months. We’re taking it slow. Listening to what the ancient walls tell before coming up with a plan. Thoughtful restoration instead of fast renovation. Which, again long story short, means that the house will remain a work in progress for a long long time to come.

We also decided it would be too bad to stop doing the retreats only to take them up again when we’re done with the major part, because it’s the unfinished and repaired stuff that intrigues us, all that imperfection business that makes life so wonderfully nuanced. I think the Japanese have a word for this, I hope I don’t get this wrong, it’s called Wabi-Sabi. Time-painted doors and ceilings. The beauty of the world through a cracked windowpane. You see I could go on and on. I want you to see it too. I want you to be part of the history of this place, too, which is a constant story of transformation. Hence, the show goes on next year! With two dates in September, September when it’s still warm and glorious, and enough time for us to fix what needs fixing right away.

It’s going to be grand, that much I can promise. With a lot of rustic glamour. I’ve made some basic planning for the programme but will reserve the option to make changes as we go, given that I assume I’ll be discovering a load of exceedingly cool things deemed worthy “retreat material” over the first months we’re there.

Finally, we’ll also be able to provide limited in-house accommodation. Very basic, but comfortable. Yet, cautious note – this is not the Ritz (and it probably never will be, for that matter). There’s two chateau rooms with private bathrooms which will be available. It is possible to add an additional bed in each chateau room (3 persons max capacity). For those who prefer more modern comforts, we offer accommodation in a holiday home outside the village. We provide chauffeur service from/to the chateau to the external accommodation. The rooms go on a first-book-first-served basis. Please indicate if you prefer a chateau room or external accommodation. Please also indicate if you’re willing to share a room upon booking.

The cooking sessions, lunches and dinners will be held in the medieval chateau kitchen, weather permitting we’ll be also spending a lot of time outside in the garden. Excursions and visiting our favourite chefs are on the menu too.

Registration is open at hello@lespoissonchats.com.

Dijon

This is a post I’ve ben meaning to write for a loooooong time, so here it is, Monsieur Bouc, Champagne!

Dijon. Oh Dijon. We’ve been considering living there some years ago which, those who know us well know, is our way of saying that the place is just absolutely first rate. Still is. They’ve polished it since those few years back, and cleaned it’s cobbled streets and put flowerbeds everywhere. They added gimmicks like the Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin, and modernised the Musée des Beaux Arts, yet, Dijon was beautiful even before that. She kept her head high in dignity through all the times, glory and ruin likewise, because after all, she is the capital of an old and notable kingdom, a kingdom that notably never dies.

Going down to Dijon, from the outskirts of this our kingdom, so to speak, to its centre, always is a happy event, and we love to visit our old hides and new ones, a choice selection of magical, wonderful and more often than not tasty things. So here we go:

  1. Truffles. This is a Burgundy thing, oh so good, so whenever you’re in Dijon please don’t forget to stop at Yann’s truffle shop, it’s heaven!
  2. Speaking food, what about macarons? The ones from Jonathan Pautet are our favourites. Besides, everything else is, well put it like this: I wouldn’t mind if they accidentally locked me up in the shop over night.
  3. More food, let’s begin with our classic almost favourite lunch spot, this is the Maison des Cariatides, everything is absolutely top and soooo good. Very French and a little chichi but not too much so they’re still firmly rooted to the ground, just the way we like it. Personally dying for their scallops, mouthwatering even just writing about it!
  4. While we love the Cariatides, our really favourite lunch spot is, drumrolls, the Little Italy. Now, mind, us living on the outskirts of the kingdom, where Italy probably has not yet been discovered, let alone her food. Like every sensible human being I really do crave Italian food sometimes, like real good Italian food, not the instant weird stuff they’re serving everywhere now, and going down to Dijon gives us a chance to indulge in it. Real pizza and real pasta. And real coffee! Also the tiramisu, oh God. It’s nicest in summer sitting outside under the marquee on the sidewalk eating and drinking and watching the world pass by.
  5. I love glittery things, and vintage things, and the best ones are to be found at Monsieur Todesco’s shop around the corner, old fashioned vintage jewellery and antiques, choice Swiss watches and pearls from Arabia, pretty much everything that makes one’s heart beat.
  6. Speaking of watches, there’s a rabbit hole down to Alice a few steps down the cobbled street, it’s called Au Sablier, and it’s a watchmaker’s shop. I’ll say nothing more because you simply have to discover the magic by yourself.
  7. Another movie setting worthy shop is the Pharmacie La Croix Blanche, an absolutely charming old fashioned pharmacy with an in-house production of fantastic beauty and health products. I swear by their cold cream in winter, also available online by the way!
  8. We never leave without paying a visit to the best bakery in town chez Fremont, getting some tasty olive bread for apero and something sweet to get home to. My favourite: their tarte tropezienne.
  9. Speaking of apero, last but not least, a special mention goes to Monsieur Moutarde. They make cocktails, proper cocktails, aaaaand, another drumroll, an absolutely smashing truffle cocktail. Who’d have thought.

Vive la Bourgogne!