Smiles and Butterflies

It’s a long time since I have written a blog, but something happened recently which I just had to share .

About a year ago, two lovely girls , Jaime and Tanya, came to see me to ask about holding their wedding at Clavelshay Barn in 2017. We talked and I showed them around and immediately liked them both. They then booked their wedding reception here for August 19 2017.

 

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We met a couple more times to discuss menus, timings etc but it was all quite laid back and informal.  The only thing that had changed since their last visit was that they now had a beautiful little boy, Kody, who would be 3 months old on the wedding day.

At last the day arrived and everything was ready, the guests had all arrived and were waiting for the girls to appear. They arrived in style in a vintage Austin ….  and they both looked absolutely stunning.

Then we had drinks on the lawn and time to mingle and chat before the wedding breakfast.

I gave them time to settle in and then went over to congratulate them. As I approached them, a white butterfly flew near them and touched Jaime on the cheek and then flew off but stayed nearby. They both looked stunned and said they couldn’t believe what had just happened.   They then told me that Tanya’s Mum had died 2 years ago at the age of 53. They had had a tough couple of years , buthad got through it together.

They had been to see a medium a few weeks before the wedding, to tell Tanya’s Mum about the plans.  The medium was sent a message saying that she was delighted to hear about the wedding , and that she would be watching on the day and would senda white butterfly as a sign. She also wanted them to add a pink rose to each of their bouquets to remember her, which they did.

The sceptics amongst you will shake their heads and say it was a coincidence, but I can only say that I saw the butterfly touch Jaime on the cheek, something I have never seen before.  It made their day even more special, a memory they will treasure, and is something I will never forget.

The rest of the day was fabulous, with lots of laughter and a few tears. The families and friends all enjoyed themselves and said it was the best wedding ever.

It was an absolute joy to host this wedding , Jaime and Tanya ,and we wish you both every happiness in the future.

 

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Every time I see a white butterfly I will think of that wonderful day, a very special couple, and a very special Mum who sent her blessing .

All My Own Work: At The Clavleshay Barn Cookery School

'From the Somerset edition of the award-winning blog Muddy Stilettos written by Sue Tucker: an urban guide to the countryside, a guide to the very best food and drink, independent shops, arts & culture, hotels, spas, walks, days out – and more – in Somerset.'

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Two of Somerset’s top chefs show how to made dishes that will really impress your friends at the Clavelshay Barn Cookery School in North Petherton.

I turned these…

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… into this: seared fillet of bream with crushed potatoes, braised fennel, olive oil and caper dressing…

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…this: roasted scallops with couscous salad and citrus dressing …

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… and this: ceviche of scallops with mizuna salad, lime, vermouth and coriander.

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Impressed? The miracle took place at the new cookery school at Clavelshay Barn, the award-winning sustainable restaurant on a working dairy farm in North Petherton, on the edge of the Quantock Hills.

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The classes are run by award-winning professional chefs Olivier Certain and Andrew Dixon. Marseille-born Olivier had a Michelin-star training in France before moving to England (head chef at Woods in Dulverton, finalist South West Chef of the Year) and is now chef at Clavelshay Barn, producing modern British food with French style.  Andrew Dixon trained in some of the UK’s best restaurants and country hotels before setting up Andrews on the Weir (3 AA rosettes) and now The Cafe Porlock Weir, which won the 2015 Best Somerset Restaurant Dining Experience at the Somerset Life Food awards.

The classes take place on the airy upper floor of Clavelshay Barn. Each table was set with its own induction hot plate, all the necessary bowls, whisks, spoons and pans (all brand spanking new), as well as oil, garlic, shallots, salt and lemons –

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– and the biggest knife roll I’ve ever seen.

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First there was some helpful advice about buying fresh fish (firm shiny flesh, clear bulging eyes and no fishy smell) and scallops (should be closed if still in the shell). Then we put on our little chef’s hats and aprons and the two chefs started to cook. They took turns to demonstrate each dish, throwing in tips (crush garlic with salt, it draws out the moisture; score fish skin to allow heat into the flesh, it cooks quicker; cook scallops to perfection by placing one on each finger of the left hand, then putting them one by one into the pan clockwise, so you can take them out on the right order) and answering all of our questions (what olive oil to use? Pomace, 2nd pressing, it turns out). There was a great dynamic between the two chefs; while one was taking the floor, the other acted as sous chef and chipped in every now and again with extra bits of info, so it was no surprise to discover that they’d worked together at Andrews on the Weir for several years.

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Then it was our turn. The chefs wandered amongst us offering advice and help as we followed our recipes.

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It was hectic getting just three dishes cooked and plated up (you see, I’ve got the lingo), so hats off to chefs who do it for restaurants full of diners. And aren’t you supposed to clear up as you go along?

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Finally, we were able to sit down and eat. Wine expert David Morley from Oliver & Bird was on hand to suggest the perfect wine to go with the food: Picpoul de Pinet or a Sauvignion Blanc from the Langedouc. Even if I say so myself, the food (and the wine) was wonderful.

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Try one of these recipes from the class, a delicious, bright green, herb oil

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Ingredients

1 bunch coriander (or other soft herb like basil or parsley) 300 ml olive oil

Method

Wash the herbs thoroughly and dry on a cloth. Plunge the herbs (stalks and all) into boiling salted water for one minute (this is what will keep the colour) and then into a bowl of iced water, then drain, squeeze out excess water and pat dry. Put the herbs and oil into a food processor and blend for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is bright green; leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Take a piece of cheesecloth/muslin and fold in half (ie double thickness), soak it in cold water (this is important), then wring out and place into a fine sieve over a bowl. Pour the oil/herb mixture into the cloth-lined sieve and allow to strain naturally; then pour into a jar and chill. This will keep for a week in the fridge; you can use it with any fish or pasta dish, or whatever you like. There’s a different cookery class each month. The next one is on Tuesday 10 May, when you can learn how to make fresh pasta, which will include making the dough, flavouring and filling pasta and how to make different pasta shapes. Classes cost £95 per person and include lunch and wine.

Micro Business of the Year!

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Very, very proud to have received Micro Business of the Year Award at the Sedgemoor Business Excellence Awards last week. 

All credit to Olivier Certain for fabulous food and our great team for their hard work and support. Thank you also to all our lovely loyal customers who have supported us over the past 11 years and who like what we do.