Rub Oil All Over
Learn to cook like a pro, then get massaged until you’re done. Turn. Serve.
Everything is farmed, cultivated and produced within a square mile, straight from the farm to your fork, being the Daylesford motto.
When making a Beef Bourguignon, boiling the red wine intensifies the desirable flavours and removes the alcohol. Did you know that? No, me neither. Or that taking out meat at least an hour before you need it ensures even cooking? That was a new one, too. Looking into Vladimir Mizas eyes, it’s a miracle I took any of it in at all.
It’s like a match made in heaven, croons Chef Vlad, attempting to convince the assembled amateurs that we can master pork and apple sauce. The girls in the group swoon as he works his Portguese charm – yes, Vlad is a funny name for a Portugese – encouraging us all by cutting apples at an impossible speed. A true dashing blade. We are an eclectic bunch of culinary keenos: mothers and daughters, a couple of yummy mummies, and some 30-something men clearly sent by their wives.
I’ve been cultivating my obsession with Daylesford Organics for some time, often having brunch in their London shop and always wondering how they make sublime Eggs Florentine that taste completely different to the same thing I heroically concoct at home. The vegetables are always enormous and the egg yokes a canary yellow. Why do the eggs I buy at the supermarket never look that intensely jaundiced?
So, arriving at their Cotswold farm is like landing in an idyllic, rural seventh Heaven. I am determined to learn to cook like a Daylesford pro and it looks like I’ve come to the right place. The farm is laid out just like a toy farm set, complete with happy cows munching on greener than green grass and farm buildings made of soft Cotswold stone. There’s even a creamery where they make their own cheeses. Everything is farmed, cultivated and produced within a square mile straight from the farm to your fork, being the Daylesford motto.
Vlad shows us how to make the perfect pork crackling. There is no impaling. Brushing it with grape-seed oil, he said, makes it beautifully crispy. The 30-something chaps take notes. Next, we rattle through rarebit (cheese on toast extraordinaire) and fish pie, before moving on to the best bit: pudding. First its treacle tart, then rhubarb crumble with custard.
Cook the crumble and rhubarb separately and bring them together on the plate, elucidates the chef, going on to explain that many people suffer from food intolerances because of uncooked wheat. The mothers and daughters take notes. Finally, its bread and butter pudding with ice cream. And it turns out, wonder of wonders, that ice cream is just frozen custard – who knew? Full to the brim, were packed off with parcels of our own impossibly good cooking, as well as Daylesford aprons and a cookery book complete with all of Vlads tips. I roll down the road to the Cotswold House Hotel in the nearby village of Chipping Campden. Is the glow of yellow Cotswold stone an organic food-induced mirage?
I check in to one of the garden suites, self-contained like your very own cottage, complete with a large bedroom, sitting room and huge bathroom. Deciding the hydrotherapy pool could do me some good, I wander up the garden path to the spa. I decide to try out the DIY massage, and am taken aback when the therapist brings out what looks like a selection of dips. Maybe I have food on the brain?
Great for your problem areas, she says.
Trying not to be offended, I smile. She presses on. It’ll be great for you! You can rub this on your thighs and stomach.
Yes, perhaps I ate a bit too much ice cream. Thing is, I had to make sure it really is just cold custard.