Circle of Misse

A Cook Begins

Preparations for a classic Ratatouille
Preparations for a classic Ratatouille 

A unique creativity boosting experience that features food and wine as the basis for exploring our senses, learning new skills, broadening our knowledge, boosting confidence and learning to seek out and appreciate the lovely things in life.

F.A.Q.

Who Attends?  EVERYONE. Whether you’ve just discovered your home has a kitchen, or you’ve been cooking since you were a toddler, or anywhere in-between. Avid foodie all the way to the simply curious: you’ll love this course because it’s about learning new things and getting a taste of the best the French culinary scene has to offer. The ‘Begins and Prepares’ of the title refers to approaching the imaginative and creative aspects of cooking, and gastronomy and oenology in a fresh, open and thoughtful manner, not to the experience level of the course or participant. It is designed to excite the senses, engage curiosity and get you excited about flavours, textures and culinary stories, histories and the science of food and wine, regardless of cooking experience or knowledge. From someone who just discovered their kitchen has an oven to the most avid foodie and home cook.

‘This has been an absolutely amazing experience. Many thanks for your fascinating hospitality, wonderful food and wine. It has been both instructive and inspiring. And the setting is like something out of a movie.’

- Karin (Stockholm, Sweden)

Multiple skills levels on the same course? Not to worry. Everyone works at their own pace. We keep the course size small (never more than four) and you work with our entire kitchen team, so we are able to give individual attention. In fact, a few weeks before the course begins, we send you an email asking some questions about your experience and interest in food, wine and cookery. We use that information to tailor the course specifically to your needs. We use tested teaching methods and exercises that work on multiple levels, allowing participants at different knowledge and skill levels to take part. As the course progresses participants will work with different members of the kitchen team on developing specific skills of interest to them.

How does it work?  Through a combination of sessions that include hands-on cooking, practical tips and kitchen skills development; as well as exploratory, sensory and creative exercises centred on cooking, wine-tasting, flavours, gastronomy and French regional culinary culture, you become immersed in a world of creativity and culinary delights. Circle of Misse is working kitchen that is at the heart of all activities here, turning out three exceptional meals every day, along with amazing selection of baked goods, homemade charcuterie, and other culinary delights. You’ll become a part of that world. We’ll visit artisan food producers, oil presses, cheese producers, vineyards, markets and other sites where you’ll learn about food and engage your senses through a series of fun creativity exercises. You’ll explore taste, learning why certain foods and flavours or foods and wines combine better than others. We’ll explore some culinary history, make connections between food, culture, nature, science, happiness and well-being. You’ll learn kitchen skills, techniques you can apply at home, both to become a better, a happier (more confident) cook, but also to impress your friends. We’ll combine some food research and hands-on cooking to make this a truly immersive and creative experience.

I don’t drink, is this course still for me?  Absolutely. While wine plays an important part in French culinary history and we take advantage of the rich resources of our own wine region by exposing participants to its history and variety, non-drinkers are welcome and get just as robust of an experience. All our tasting experiences work just as well with other non-alcoholic specialities of the region.

‘We had a really relaxing time - learning, eating and drinking :) - the stuff of holidays. You have an excellent concept and we both wish you well as it unfolds. We will be back if only for another sampling of your hospitality.’

- Norma & Darryn (Johannesburg, SA)

I am vegetarian or pescatarian, is this course for me?  Absolutely, We cook for all appetites here and our repertoire includes an extraordinary number of vegetarian dishes. We’re only an hour and half from the coast, so our markets feature some of the best fish and seafood in the country. We can’t promise that there won’t be meat dishes prepared on your course by others, but we always include vegetarian dishes as well and can ensure that you don’t have to work with meat if you do not wish to.

What will I take away?  Confidence in yourself and a desire to try new things in all areas of life. A deeper appreciation of seasonal cooking, a sheaf of recipes, tips and ideas, along with a desire to continue to explore the concepts you discovered during the course.

Practicalities

Course Length: Starts late afternoon Wednesday, finishes early Sunday morning (4 nights)

Schedule: Morning and afternoon sessions each day. Excursions to area attractions such as markets, vineyards, oil presses, artisan food producers and chateaus built into programme. Free time available each day.

Prior cooking experience or knowledge required?  No. Creativity based and suitable for both absolute beginner, experienced and seasoned cooks and foodies.

Can I bring a non-cooking friend or partner?  Absolutely, as long they want to participate in one of our other creativity based programmes. We have both writing and photography experiences for all levels of experience and interest that run concurrently with our cooking course. We’ve designed it that way for your convenience. Because of how meals, excursions and general logistics work, we simply can’t provide accommodation only options. Besides, there’s so much fun, activity and excitement at Misse, everyone always wants to be a part of the activities. If the other person(s) in your group wishes to attend a course which is longer than yours, we offer a ‘retreat top-up’ package so that you can enjoy accommodation, food, wine and the relaxation of a retreat during the days that your course is not running.

Retreat Top-Up: This course runs Weds-Sun, but you can come for the entire week, for an additional £230, spending Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon prior to the start of your course on retreat, relaxing, reading, taking pictures, going on walks, all while enjoying the excellent hospitality, food and drink of Circle of Misse. This option is ideal for anyone traveling with someone doing one of our week-long courses, but is also perfect for anyone wishing to unwind and relax for a few days before jumping into their course.

Accommodation:  The Circle of Misse comprises several beautiful properties, including, the Misse Farmhouse and River House in the Thouet River Valley, and the Old Post Office House in nearby Moncontour. All the properties have beautiful rooms with double beds, wardrobes and writing desks. Most share a bathroom. Due to the nature of how we schedule courses, we regret that we cannot take requests for particular properties or rooms. For the 2015 season, due to renovation work at the Misse Farmhouse, all courses and most accommodation will be held at The Old Post Office.

Meals & Drinks:  Breakfast, lunch & dinner each day, including wine & cocktails. Coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks and snacks available all the time.

Cost: £665 (with retreat top-up £895)  (includes EVERYTHING except travel to France). To secure a place a deposit of £200 is due at the time of booking; the balance is due 45 days before the course starts.

Booking & Dates:  Please see the Food & Wine Calendar for dates and details of how to make a booking.

Travel Information

Please note: Due to changes to Ryanair's schedule in 2015, all pick-ups and drop-offs will be made at Poitiers.

For course-only participants arriving Wednesday and leaving Sunday:
Free pick-up and drop-off at Poitiers Airport or Poiters Centre Rail Station (coordinated with the Ryanair London Stansted Flight) as follows:
Pick-up Poitiers Airport 16:35 (flight FR8474 London-Poitiers arrives 16:35)
Pick-up Poitiers Centre Rail Station 16:00-17:00
Drop-off Poitiers Airport circa 15:00 (flight FR8475 Poitiers-London departs 17:00)
Drop-off Poitiers Centre rail station circa 15:30

For course plus retreat top-up participants arriving Sunday and leaving the next Sunday:
Free pick-up and drop-off at Poitiers Airport or Poiters Centre Rail Station (coordinated with the Ryanair London Stansted Flight) as follows:
Pick-up Poitiers Airport 17:00 (flight FR8474 London-Poitiers arrives 16:40)
Pick-up Poitiers Centre Rail Station 16:00
Drop-off Poitiers Airport circa 15:00 (flight FR8475 Poitiers-London departs 17:05)
Drop-off Poitiers Centre rail station circa 15:30

For both types of Participants, you can also make your own way via train to Thouars (our local rail station) or drive to Misse (we will provide directions).

Cooking Courses in Pictures

  • Garganelli served with both fennel & tomato and pork ragus

  • A Wild Nettle (Stinging variety) Risotto

  • Writers reap rewards from the cookery school

  • Making Halloumi Cheese

  • Taking a break to taste a Sauvignon Blanc from Haut Poitou

  • A Misse speciality - Tagliatelli with Radish Leaf Pesto

  • Cooks Prepare White Asparagus Risotto

  • A Festive Ballotine of Turkey (Boned, layered and cooked in its original skin)

  • Peaches poached in Cabernet Franc Wine

  • Pasta Sunflowers stuffed with wild rabbit and dressed with a Girolle Sauce