Is it possible to have too much foie gras? After a week of hearty meat eating in Gascony in southwest France, the answer is a resounding, “no!” Not to mention the duck confit, sausages, prunes of Agen, Armagnac, and many other delicious treats to be enjoyed in the area.
A group of eight women (seven Americans and one Canadian) gathered in September at Camont, the French farmhouse cooking school operated by American Kate Hill, for a week of cutting, cooking and eating meat. Dubbed Grrls’ Meat Camp by Kate, the meat-fest combined market visits, village tours and butchery lessons with cutting, curing, cooking and dining, plus lots of laughter thrown in for good measure.
Our merry band ranged in age from 27 to 62 and included culinary school students, budding farmers, meat-cutting experts, home cooks and journalists, all of whom shared a passion for French food and culture. We came from Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Montreal and St. Louis to gather in Agen in Lot-et-Garonne, in the southwestern corner of France that is known for its fine foods and wines.
The ring leader of this motley crew, Hill has been planning and directing culinary explorations for more than two decades. She operated a barge, the Julia Hoyt, on the canals of France for many years. The barge is currently docked alongside Camont, her home base. Hill, along with her sister Stephanie Hill, runs the cooking school and organizes culinary tours. She recently began teaching at the School of Artisan Food at the Welbeck Estate in Sherwood Forest, England. As head of the butchery and charcuterie department, Kate Hill will commute regularly between France and England – with the occasional trip to North America – to spread the gospel of meat.
For more information about Camont or the School of Artisan Food, visit Kate Hill’s website and blog at kitchen-at-camont.com. Camont is at Ste. Colombe-en-Bruilhois, which is near Agen.
A travel tip: To help you get to and from Camont, as well as all around France, check out a French Railpass.