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combining farm visits and cooking

TIP - the roads here are excellent but very narrow, very hilly, and very windy.  Many of the farms are an hour and a half away.  If you get carsick easily, this is not the course for you.
PRICE - $3400 per participant (mon eve - sat morning); $1200 per non-participant
2021 DATES
Dates will be posted by November 16, 2020
This course, scheduled only in the fall, is focused on daily excursions to farms, markets, and food processors where you can see and meet the people dedicated to food on a very basic level, and, of course, cook the foods we buy along the way.
Foods produced for export in the Gers include wines, Armagnac, and Floc, plums and prunes, duck, corn, sunflowers, and wheat.  Eggs, beef and pork, sanglier and deer, cheese, mushrooms, vegetables, and saffron are also produced for local consumption.  In addition donkey milk is used to create upscale cosmetics.
Visits will be scheduled when it is convenient for farmers, or during festivals featuring local foods and their growers, or during seasonal markets.  Our menu will focus on foods that are slow cooked and tolerant of erratic schedules - including an authentic Cassoulet.
When possible we will return home for all meals but if too far afield, we will eat at local restaurants.   Breaks will be determined daily and on long days may be cancelled. 



Monday evening 6PM - WELCOME DINNER
Class will include a visit to two wineries making the deep dark red wine of the region called Madiran. Made from the Tannat grape, with its exceptional levels of antioxidants, Madiran is believed to contribute to the longevity of the Gersoise.   Then, we'll be on to a nearby sanglier and deer farm and finish with lunch at a local restaurant.  Upon return, you'll learn to make Toulouse Sausage and Duck Confit that will be used in our Cassoulet later this week.  It will be too late to do anything elaborate, so I'll show you how to fix an amazing dinner in record time, before winding down, with the requisite l'Apero. Dinner will include an entree (starter) of Sanglier Sauccison and Smoked Duck Breast with shaved butter and sea salt, a plat (entree) of Maigret(duck breast), Gascony Potato Cake, a Salad  Course and a Cheese Plate.  We'll drink Madiran wine and finish with an Apple Tarte and Creme Fraiche.
Wednesday 9:30 ARMAGNAC and BIRDS
Morning class will include a trip to two Armagnac makers followed by lunch at a lovely restaurant in Castera Verduzan.  In the afternoon, we'll visit an all organic/grass fed beef and chicken farm run by an ex Microsoft employee. Then we'll need to hurry home to cook our Pintade Breasts and Butterflied Quail with Armagnac Sauce, Polenta, and a Cheese Prune & Armagnac Tarte.  We'll also need to start cooking the pork and the Tarbais beans that will go into our Cassoulet.  And, we'll put a classic Garbure soup on the back of the stove.
Thursday 9:30 CASSOULET and GARBURE
Morning class will include a visit to a saffron farm, a honey farm, and a cheese maker.   We'll have our Garbure soup for lunch and then begin assembling our Cassoulet for it's final cooking.  If we have extra time we'll make a confiture or two and some delicious buckwheat crepes even though they aren't from the Gers.   Dinner will include our Cassoulet and Crepes flamed with Armagnac and Fall Fruit.
Morning class will include a trip to our local market where you will have the opportunity to choose your produce for the day.  We'll choose, as the French do from local fall vegetables,  and make perhaps a Pumpkin Soup, a Fall Gratin, a Fruit Gastrique, or some Pickled Mushrooms .  We'll have an easy lunch of leftover Garbure or leftover Cassoulet if you insist, or if you're up for it we can go out for an outstanding but lengthy lunch nearby.  In the afternoon you will have a well deserved break.  Then, if weather permits, we'll cook a simple dinner of meat grilled over a fire using an ancient tournebrosse, accompanied by our vegetables from the day and a simple Fruit Clafouti. 
Saturday 9:30 GOOD BYES
I will personally cook you a large brunch, present gifts and recipes, and we'll say our goodbyes.
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