With the offer of learning how to cook seafood with Roy Brett of Ondine at Hopetoun Farm Shop I couldn’t say no. So off I headed on a Thursday evening, wondering what was ahead of me and reminding myself not to buy too many goodies from the farm shop. Hopetoun Farm Shop is located just along the Bo’ness road and is pretty well sign posted once you’re through Newton (if I can get to it, anyone can!!).
So I arrived a little early and had a good look around. The farm shop is packed full of many fantastic products. Some which I recognised such as The Big Cheese Making Kit, Cullisse, Wicked Chocolate and Stoats. There was also a huge amount of other producers I had never heard off. I think that’s the beauty of farm shops such as this one. It’s great for finding new products. I purchased Your Piece Shortbread and it was delicious. I’ve never had such light shortbread before and everyone at work was thankful I’d brought it in to share.
Once I’d browsed and made my purchases (Your Piece shortbread, stem ginger cookies and some smoked cheese) it was time to take my seat in anticipation of the master class. On my seat was the 3 recipes we would see demonstrated tonight. There was cannonball gin cured salmon & crispy oyster, Ruinart scallops and brown crab and butternut squash risotto. Having just read what was ahead of me I was very excited. I’d never had oysters before, mainly because I thought if I didn’t like them it would be a waste, but I was willing to give them a bash and see how they tasted.
Along with Roy, Ben was also helping out. Between the two of them, they formed a great double act. I could see that being in a kitchen with Roy would be hard work but also be full of banter! The full recipes can be found on Hopetoun House Farm Shop’s facebook page. Roy shared tips and hints throughout the night. The main tip I took away from the night was in picking crab meat. When trying to break the shell you need to bounce the knife off the shell to break it rather than intending to break straight through the shell. If you don’t bounce the knife then the shell will break up into the meat and you’ll be picking bits out for ages. He also shared with us, how to break into oysters, what a fresh scallop should look like and when cooking seafood it should have reached room temperature before cooking, as if you cook it straight from the fridge it will be burnt on the outside before it’s cooked in the centre.
Each dish was fantastic and gave a real taster into the food you could expect from Ondine. I think all 27 of us and the staff were in agreement that this was a great evening. Along with the fantastic food, we were also treated to 3 wines available to buy in the shop.
Damien from Woodstock Wines, talked us through each of the three wines, telling us where they were grown, what flavours we should be tasting and why each was the perfect match for the dish being served.
The first wine we tried on the night was a sparkling white wine – Ferghettina Franciacorta Brut. This lovely sparkling white is from Italy and was fantastic! It can be described in one line as soft and persistent with hints of white flowers and hazelnuts. Easy-drinking and approachable. Paired with the Cannonball gin cured salmon and crispy oyster it was fantastic. Priced at £24.99 its middle of the range and is available in the farm shop.
This was my favourite wine of the night it’s priced at £12.99. Domaine des Echardieres 2009 Sauvignon Touraine was paired with the Ruinart scallops. From the Loire Valley in France. It has a very flattering nose with citrus and black current buds. In mouth, dry tender rich and fruity with a nice length. It works best paired with seafood and goats cheese. Also available from the farm shop.
The third and final wine of the night was in the lower price range and was priced at £7.99. Cuvée Jean-Paul Gascogne Blanc de Blancs Sec, Pays des Côtes de Gascogne was paired with the brown crab meat and butternut squash risotto. On it’s own this wine was not my cup of tea, but when tried with the risotto, the flavour of the wine totally changed. This for me was a great example of when wine and food work perfectly together. It has a lovely aromatic nose with zesty citrus and hints of stone fruit and a palate with lots of white nectarine, citrus and creamy characters balanced with a refreshing lemony acidity. An enjoyable, easy drinking dry white wine. For me it was just a bit too zesty to drink on it’s own.
Tickets to the masterclass are priced at £10. This is an absolute bargain as they have some great chefs lined up. I’d recommend getting in early and booking your tickets as events often sell out with a waiting list for some. Classes run from 6.30-8.30pm and the farm shop is open after to pick up some of the produce showcased by the masterclass.
Overall it was a great evening at Hopetoun Farm Shop and if you’re in the area I’d definitely recommend stopping in for some goodies. They have a full list of all their masterclasses over on their website and also have a Christmas shopping evening coming up on the 29th November where the farm shop will be opening to around 9pm and there will be mulled wine, possibly a choir and 10% off most things in the shop, it’s a great way to get into the festival season and get some Christmas shopping out of the way.