There’s a place in Brasstown, North Carolina that casts a magical spell on all who come here. The John C. Campbell Folk School, founded in 1925. I’ve been teaching here for years and these week- long and weekend classes are the most varied and exciting I have seen.
Browse the catalog of classes and your jaw will drop. Not only traditional crafts like blacksmithing and woodworking (considered to be the finest in the country), but jewelry (all mediums) painting, cooking, photography, textile arts, glass work, all metal crafts- the list goes on and on. The classes run all year with several special festivals. Evening events include music concerts (great bluegrass) and lectures on the crafts of the Appalachia area. Visits in the afternoons to local artists and demos from the faculty all week long!
I’m honored to be back here for two week-long classes. I just started teaching Ancestral Treasure Hunt- a figurative sculpture class. Next week I’ll teach a week- long workshop in jewelry inspired by five different cultures/countries.
Some of you may remember the progressive-style dinners of the past. I can remember my parents having them in the cul-de-sac of our suburban neighborhood. Each house was responsible for one of the courses ending with drinks and dancing at our house. I can see me in the hallway spying on my parents and their friends as they danced in our living room where the furniture had been moved earlier in the day.
This last week, here in Durfort, France, we had a number of wonderful cooks on our street- either permanent residents or visitors. I decided it would be fun to do a progressive dinner and I called it Restaurant Row on Rue des Martineurs.
Our apero ( cocktail party) was held at the town fountain- a lovely little shaded area with our town fountain that constantly spurts the most delicious tasting pure water for miles around. Nese- the chef for my workshops here in France had prepared a lovely samosa style “nibblie” which we called nesmosas- and a bevy of different drinks.
From there we walked up our street to Ann and Peters for the Entree (starter). Inside the silk studio where Ann works was a large table (there were 10 of us) beautifully set for the first course. Peter’s homemade bread spread with a tapenade and roasted tomato, followed by homemade pesto (made by Peter and Ann from basil grown in our garden). Delicious!
We then walked down the street to la Cascade ( the artist retreat house where I hold my workshops) where Gwen and Leo had prepared the Main Course. A gorgeous Chicken Marbella along with couscous and roasted red peppers. Divine!
Next stop was Christopher and Bill’s- our friends from CA who are renting a house on our street. They had just arrived and we were so happy they could join us. They served a gorgeous selection of Cheeses along with ripe green grapes and fresh bread. My fave was a creamy Reblochon- perfectly ripe.
We finished up our evening with Dessert, cafe and liqueurs hosted by Dan and me. I made an icecream dessert of vanilla ice cream and cassis (black currant) sorbet mixed with fresh raspberries and little bits of crunchy french meringues. Then refrozen and cut into slices. Finished off with coffee and chocolate and Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) and Get. Get is a mint- flovored liqueur which the area is known for.
No dancing that night ( too full of food and wine )but a kazoo orchestra- we played six tunes starting with Food Fabulous Food! and ending with I likeCoffee I like Tea! Great fun and a nice finish to my summer here.
My time in our little French village is startling to wind down. I see leaves beginning to turn and fall and the sunflowers are starting to turn ochres and browns with droopy heads. Soon they will be harvested for their seeds and oil. Sunflower oil (Huile de Tournesol) is very popular here.
The fairs and festivals shift from high summer fun to autumn harvest fairs. This weekend will still be a full weekend of summer fun. The medieval village right next to us has their HUGE vide grenier (flea market). It winds thru all the streets of the village and is one of the biggest in the area. Soreze is an interesting village filled with photo ops of old doors, windows, door kncokers, small streets with flowering gardens and exquisite architecture. I always take my workshops there on the first day.
Tomorrow Soreze will host a regional artist/craftsperson fair. Again the street will be filled with booths of art and gourmet food products made by small producers.
I’ll be posting one last time from France and hope you have enjoyed sharing the summer with me. I also hope you will come join me in 2012 or 2013 for your OWN experience in this charming area. Please contact me for info on special discounts available!
Here in our small village of 300 there use to be lots of village parties. As people lives get busier (tho the pace of life here is a snail’s pace compared to the US) it’s harder to find those times to gather all together. Recently tho the tradition has been revived!
Last Thursday night our dear friends (and the hearts of our village) Ann and Peter threw an apero for the village. An apero is short for aperitif- a gathering for conversation, wine or aperitifs(like kirs, muscats) and little nibblies- cheese, crackers, olives etc. In front of Ann and Peter’s house is Place de Sol– a wide open spot surrounded by trees and a small pond. The pond is part of our unique waterways that run down the center of our village street. Beside looking beautiful- they served as part of the copper making process years ago when all these homes were copper studios.
Now this “pond” serves as a way to chill wine, beer and other drinks! We had two table of gorgeous food contributed by the villagers- a feast, not just nibblies. Peter had hired a local accordionist to play for the party and he and I danced a wild waltz. French, British, American, Irish, all gathered to chat together in whatever language they could (including pantomime- my universal language). Six of us got up to form an impromptu kazoo orchestra as the accordionist played When the Saints Come Marching In and Roll out the Barrell.
Everyone agreed the tradition of the village party must continue from now on.
We had a most wonderful week shared by extraordinary women. Nese, (our chef), Gwen, (who shares the magic of La Cascade with us), Mary, Cynthia, Laurie, Lynda, Beverlee, Tricia and Joan. My heartfelt “Merci’s” for making this week really a special experience.
Our week was a great mix of making food, making art, making trips to special places, making new friends and making magic! We visited the Saturday market in Revel, each with 10E to spend on whatever called to us and then had a grand feast and picnic up at the lake.
Our vide grenier (flea market) excursion took us to the Maxi- Vide Grenier at Les Cammazes- a small village close to here, where I found an old large copper pot and a set of beautiful brass dessert forks and spoons adorned with carved roses.
In the kitchen we made an array of dishes- pates and other appetizers, fondant du chocolate, fresh pear cake, tagine, fresh brioche and other delights. And of course tried several ( and I do mean several) of the local wines!
In the studio we made a handmade menu book and several pieces of jewelry- pendants, earrings and brooches.
It was a grand week with special women and I hope we’ll all continue to be in touch and share our cooking experiences with each other and I look forward to a reunion in the future! PS Thanks to Mary for the photo of Nese and myself!