For those that don’t know Essex, there’s a small village called Coggeshall. A place I knew of, being from Essex, but had never been. I have had two great excuses to go and visit and strangely they were for different reasons but at the same place. The first trip was for the cookery school at Baumanns Brasserie, day’s lesson that I won through Twitter from Chef Baumann himself. Now you’ve seen my adventure on cookery days so you’ll know I was quite looking forward to this. Even more so that it was a game day. That is game as in the animals, not that we went and played Cluedo in the kitchen (it was the chef with the carving knife).
I arrived very early as the great sat nav told me it took 40 minutes, add in A12 traffic in the morning, I gave myself an hour. 20 minutes it took, 20. Half of 40! Not that it annoyed me as, as you can probably tell. I had a wander round the village, sat in my car, was eyed by people walking their dogs, who were probably thinking, who is that person just sat in their car at this time of day. I finally decide to make a move, knowing I’ll be first in but it was getting chilly. I’m greeted cheerily, actually very cheerily for that time of day and coffee is supplied. I sit and wait for others to arrive and there ends up being four of us, two girls, two boys, nice & even. One of those girls was @EssexGourmet. Wasn’t our first meeting but nice to actually know someone there as, believe it or not, I’m a bit shy.
We meet the chef, Chris and the day is explained, menus handed out, aprons (much used since) are adorned. There’s the usual health & safety talk. Would you believe that knives are sharp! The kitchen is quite small, but not sure what I was really expecting as I didn’t know much about Baumann’s. It was fine for the five of us and special guest whose name I should have noted, basically it was a guy from their butchers who showed us how to bone a bird and put together a three bird roast. Should I change the wording of that last sentence?
I did learn quite a lot and since the day there I’ve mainly been buying whole birds and butchering them myself with the new found skills. It really works out a lot cheaper and is not as hard as it seems. Personally I learned more again about simple things you can do in the kitchen to makes things taste better. I mean, cooking with butter and putting some thyme in with it, so you just coat the meat and there’s a gentle flavour from the herbs. So simple and easy but something I’d never thought of doing before.
All the dishes turned out well and I think I was the best at butchering as well as cooking. Although @EssexGourmet will probably tell you otherwise. As well as what was on the menu, a few things were brought out from the larder to try, tarragon pannacotta is sublime and the Bailey’s and espresso one too, mmmmmmmm.
I have all the recipes and notes from this day but I’m not going to divulge too much information. Why? Because you should go and find out for yourselves. Put it this way, yes it was free for me to do it, but given the price, it is well worth it. I think one of the more value for money days actually. You’re a lot more hands on, the smaller group makes it easier to see everything and Chris is a great chef and very good laugh. Sometimes the day are with Mark Baumann but who wants to cook with him when we know who really does the hard work! (Secretly I’d like to cook with Mark but I don’t want to appear too much of a geek).
The second reason I had to go to Baumann’s was as a dinner guest. Again I’m not going to tell you much about the food as you have to go and try it yourself. I love good food, informal surroundings and great service and we got all three here. Having only been cooking with Chris (hey that should be their name for the experience days)a few weeks earlier we were treated to a few extras and ended up with a six course meal. The bonus to having great food is when the price is reasonable and it certainly is at Baumann’s. When you consider we had a glass of wine with starter and main rather than sharing a bottle, three courses each, after dinner drinks and coffee, a price of £50 a head is not to be sniffed at. Actually make that four courses paid for as we had the middles as well (you have to check out the menu to see them, fantabulous idea).
The great thing about the Brasserie is there was plenty there I had never tried which is why I ended up having Antelope. I have to say I was pretty stuffed after and we actually didn’t eat until about 2pm the next day as we had been fed so well. I am already trying to arrange my next visit back there and, if you haven’t been, then you should arrange your first.
For more information on Baumanns Brasserie and the Cookery School visit www.baumannsbrasserie.com
Or contact them at:
Baumanns Brasserie, 4-6 Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, Essex CO6 1TT
Tel: 01376 561453 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Y0u can follow Mark Baumann on Twitter @chefbaumann