Harts Barn Cookery School is described as the Forest of Dean’s premier cookery school, offering cooking for all – from basics to banquets – in Longhope.
Set in a historic and stunning location, Harts Barn Cookery School runs hands-on cooking courses, fun demonstrations, seasonal and community led events, corporate packages, as well as themed cook and dine evenings.
The cookery school is also a great venue for children’s and adults’ parties, there is a range of daytime and after-school clubs to join, as well as a variety of holiday activities and workshops on offer. Plus, membership packages are also available for exclusive discounts.
Take a peek inside Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean, with SoGlos.com’s latest photo gallery.
While SoGlos.com’s deputy editor James Fryer had his hands full measuring, chopping, grinding and toasting during a late summer evening visit to the picturesque Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean, he did manage to swap his paring knife for a camera to capture a few snaps of the action.
The modern school is situated in Longhope and offers a jam-packed line-up of classes every month, with SoGlos.com enjoying a special Moroccan cooking session with a dozen other aspiring chefs – before tucking into a North African feast.
Monday 03 October 2011
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With so many new Gloucestershire venues clamouring for a slice of the cookery school action, SoGlos.com dons an apron to find out whether Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean makes the cut on its Moroccan cookery evening.
From Masterchef to Come Dine with Me, and more recently The Great British Bake Off, you can’t switch on the box without seeing a barrage of celebrity and amateur chefs alike whipping up a storm – or deflated soufflé – in the kitchen.
So, hot on the heels of the culinary heat wave, it comes as no surprise that the last few years have seen hundreds of cookery schools pop up across the UK, all keen to satisfy budding Nigellas’ and Jamies’ appetite for expert instruction – with Gloucestershire proving a particularly prime location for would-be foodie wunderkinds.
One such county cookery schools catering for all ages, interests and abilities is Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean, which opened during the summer and runs a jam-packed schedule of classes taking in everything from artisan bread making, sugarcrafting, preserving, making chocolates, the ABC of Italian cooking, to popular around the world specials and much more.
Having visited the North African nation and fallen in love with its unique cuisine, I jumped at the chance to join in on a Moroccan evening cookery class, and after a pleasant evening’s drive into the heart of the Forest, I arrived at the Longhope venue full of anticipation – and with a growling stomach.
While I’d seen a few pictures on Harts Barn’s website, I was taken aback as I pulled off the Monmouth Road to see the wood framed, glass-fronted school glistened in the golden sunlight, with a gorgeous view of Forest of Dean countryside.
I made my way through the farm shop, well-stocked with tempting local delights and speciality foods, to the light and airy open plan ‘classroom’, featuring a long wooden-topped work surface complete with induction hobs, chrome ventilation overhead and local artwork adorning the walls.
My next surprise was the gender-balance of the class, with 13 ladies aged from 18 to 60-something and myself clutching cups of tea and gathering round the front of the class for a welcome and demonstration from Harts Barn Cookery School owner Yvette Farrell.
My being the only member of the less fair sex was quickly forgotten as we learnt how to make a simple and delicious Moroccan staple, harissa paste – with Yvette and a couple of volunteers peeling, chopping, toasting and grinding ingredients before a quick whiz in the blender and taste test around the group. The pepper, chilli, garlic and spice combination was a triumph.
Next up and it was time for the whole group to get stuck in, asked to break off into mini factions of two or three people and take on one of the recipes laid out on the bench. After a bit of kafuffle we all managed to organise ourselves and carefully read over the instructions, dividing tasks amongst each other while chatting about our backgrounds and what had brought us to the cooking class.
Everyone was particularly friendly, and I wondered if they had perhaps taken pity on me for being so outnumbered, as I chatted to a local artist, another lady who had lived in Mexico and another who was expecting her first baby in just a couple of weeks.
An hour or so of Moroccan cooking, chatter and laughter quickly passed – Yvette working her way around the room to offer assistance when needed – before a feast of North African dishes had been carefully prepared and presented by each of the mini groups.
Wiping the sweat from our brows and breathing a sigh of relief everything had turned out as expected, or just about, we grabbed a plate and tucked into each other’s creations. The lamb, fennel and broad bean tagine and fish balls in tomato sauce were great, while I’ll definitely be making the Moroccan rice pudding infused with clementine again. And my group’s parsley- and onion-stuffed flatbreads weren’t bad at all. Maybe it was a particularly forgiving recipe.
While those looking for a regimented cooking class, where everyone follows the same songbook with military precision, might find Harts Barn Cookery School a little too casual, anyone on the hunt for a relaxed cooking adventure and the chance to socialise with likeminded people will be in their element at this Forest of Dean venue.
While cookery schools may be in danger of becoming just another new craze (a la cupcakes), judging by its balanced commitment to quality tuition and relaxed enjoyability, Harts Barn Cookery School has quickly become a Gloucestershire institution that anyone with an interest in food and drink should take time to check out.
By James Fyrne
Monday 03 October 2011
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