Gourmet Delights and a Class on Canapés
Twice a year Knockinaam Lodge hold a very special event in the culinary calendar: The Gourmet Weekend.
Owners David and Sian Ibbotson have been hosting these foodie themed special breaks for more than 15 years. So, with over 30 successful weekends, and many guests rebooking for the next Gourmet Weekend before they depart the present one, how can the team keep on thinking up new ideas? David explains: “The ideas for each weekend are conjured up through a combination of input from the kitchen team and suggestions from our guests. We actively seek thoughts from our guests on what they would like to learn more about to develop their culinary knowledge and improve their cooking skills.”
Past events have included themes such as Soup & Sauces, Berries, Macaroons, Game and Fish. These special gourmet breaks are designed to be informative but in a relaxing informal environment, where guests feel free to engage with Head Chef, Tony Pierce and his team. It’s a great opportunity to advance your understanding of cooking techniques and hone your skills while seeing behind the scenes in a hotel working kitchen.
How to Craft the Perfect Canapé
The first Gourmet Weekend of 2020 is in February (14th & 15th) and this time the spotlight is on the canapé. These dishes in miniature not only look lovely but with a variety of toppings you can both impress your own dinner guests with these delicate portions of food art and delight their taste buds with a delectable range of flavours.
A dining experience at Knockinaam Lodge commences in the bar with pre-dinner nibbles of olives and homemade crisps, along with a selection of these tasty bite-sized morsels, to prepare you for the foodie delights as you enjoy each of the 5-courses from the daily prepared tasting menu. As David explains: “It sets you on your journey and we always receive some lovely comments about the canapés, enjoyed while guests relax with a drink before dinner commences. It sets the prefect scene for what comes next”
During the Canapés Gourmet Weekend, the experience begins when you arrive on the Friday for check-in. “Guests are always welcomed with refreshments when they arrive after their journey to Knockinaam,” explains Sian “Once settled into their room, it will soon be time to prepare for wine tasting & dinner. The weekends are devised to be very informal and we hope our guests feel both relaxed and find the experience interesting and informative, developing their culinary knowledge.”
For the first evening, six versions of canapés will be served with a wine tasting and tutoring experience, and the following day during the demonstration in the kitchen, a further six canapés will be taste tested and a further three will be served before dinner on this second night. With a total of 15 different canapés sampled and set-by-step instructions on how to recreate them at home, you will be fully prepared with a specially created booklet put together by the kitchen team with recipes for all the canapés.
With a combination of some simpler recipes and some more intricate, all levels of kitchen confidence will be covered. “The canapes will be created the Knockinaam way,” says Chef Tony. “Seasonal and fresh ingredients are our signature and since we know our guests appreciate this philosophy, that is the style of cooking they will take away from the Gourmet Weekend experience. We will give tips on how something simple to create can look stunning, to restaurant standards, so you impress your guests when you take our ideas from restaurant kitchen to home.”
The demonstration will include tips on how to serve your canapés. Tony explains: “With presentation being a major part of any foodie experience, and canapés your scene-setter for the dinner to follow, presenting your miniature culinary creations is as important as their look and taste.” Tony also suggests that the canapé recipes are not just for cocktail parties and hors d'oeuvres before a dinner; they can form part of a light meal or supper party, with canapés and a cheese board as a different idea.
“The Gourmet Weekends are very interactive,” says Tony. “We welcome questions from our guests, perhaps about the menu the night before and anything specific they’d like to see in the demo, to help them perfect cooking techniques at home. That could be how to make hollandaise sauce or trouble with their cloudy consommé or tips on creating the perfect souffle, one of our specialities at Knockinaam that guests will also enjoy over the course of the weekend. We’ll advise on where our budding chefs may be going wrong by sharing a few of our Kitchen secrets.”
Behind-the-Scenes in a Hotel Kitchen
Getting a behind-the-scenes look at kitchen life is, in itself, a fascinating aspect of the Gourmet Weekends. We see so many cookery and chef programmes on TV, it all seems so familiar but actually being there, amongst the atmosphere of a professional kitchen is a special experience. You get to meet the kitchen team and as all the questions you every wanted to ask to help perfect your own kitchen skills.
Another feature of all the gourmet weekend events is a foodie quiz to test your recognition of different Ingredients. Tony explains: “The Ingredient Recognition quiz is a test of your culinary knowledge but just for fun, although some of our guests do take it very seriously and there is a prize to be won. We invite guests to identify ingredients in their raw form. Ten side plates are set up in the kitchen and a couple of the samples can be tasted for identification. The ingredients are not always what you think they are, with a few ingredients that you would have tasted before and an odd curve ball with a rare ingredient to test your knowledge. It’s light-hearted and a great way to learn.”
Be Part of a 3 AA Rosette Experience
Knockinaam Lodge is an award-winning hotel with 3 AA Rosettes for the restaurant dining. Attending a Gourmet Weekend is about being immersed in a culinary experience that enables you to take away skills and cooking secrets that help set that high standard. You can recreate dishes that you have enjoyed at Knockinaam, bringing back great food memories. David Ibbotson explains what the team at Knockinaam hope you will take away from these special Gourmet Weekends: “You are right next to the action in the kitchen and the team encourage interaction. It’s a unique opportunity to develop your cooking skills while enjoying the hospitality offered at Knockinaam Lodge. We are a family here and hope that our guests feel part of that family when they join in during the Gourmet Weekends. With so many guest returning years after year, it is like welcoming back our friends and we look forward to welcoming new friends joining the Gourmet special breaks in the future.”
Book your place on the next Gourmet Weekend here