For my boyfriend’s 23rd birthday I took him on a surprise trip to Devon. We stayed in a B&B and spent Saturday Night at River Cottage.

River Cottage is a cooking programme fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and it began in 1998 when he moved to Devon as part of a down-sizing experiment. Due to the success of the Channel 4 show, River Cottage has now become a large business with regular television programmes focusing on the on-going developments in Fearnley-Whittingstall’s life.

Two River Cottage canteens are now run by the River Cottage team, and the latest River Cottage incarnation, Park Farm, has its headquarters near Axminster where cooking and dinner events are held.

Sadly in February, Park Farm burnt down. Courses and events had to be cancelled but a temporary events space has now been built.


This blog has been written because I wanted to record and mark the life of the Park Farm events barn. We has such a wonderful time that night, and I was quite upset to read about its destruction back in February.

I am very pleased to have photos from the evening to remember what it was like. I think the fire will change River Cottage, for the better I would imagine, onwards and upwards.

After meeting at the given point we were taken down the steep hill in a large truck pulled by a tractor. Magnificent!

We were then led into a yurt where we were given canapés and the finest Kingston Black Apple liqueur one could ask for. At 18% it was quite a tipple! I loved it! We also bought a bottle there and were delighted to find it the New Forest Cider stall at Borough Market in ‘ole London town a few months later.

After the warmth of the yurt we went back out into the February air and were led into the lovely barn. Long and narrow, it had two long scrubbed wood dining tables with a seating plan that lead us to our spots. All couples and groups were placed opposite each other to encourage us grumpy English types to interact.

We were encouraged to nosy about, look into the kitchen and see what the chefs we doing. We also had to go outside to use the composting toilets, brr!

After sitting down with the eighty other foodies we introduced ourselves and I wangled myself another glass of liqueur, and got given a large one! Weeeeeee!

Our head chef for the evening then came and explained all the dishes we were going to have and where the food came from.

We even got a band!

Artichoke soup with chorizo and soda bread.

Sea bream with potato croquette, watercress garnish and a paste of some sort. The other half thinks the croquette had something strong and cheesy in it but we can’t remember what it was at all, that is what happens when you write a blog two years after the event!

Slow roasted lamb, dauphinoise potato, honey roasted carrots and purple sprouting broccoli. Some of my favourite foods.

Oops. What was left of a lovely rhubarb pannacotta with sugary biscuits. I love love love pannacotta.

A wonderful night, he was very happy with his birthday present. River Cottage is a beautiful place… to get pissed and loose your camera in the taxi back to the B&B and then get it back. 🙂