Ten culinary weekends in Europe
Become a kitchen wizard in Ireland
A private island just off Ireland’s west coast, Inish Beg estate is a place to escape to. As well as managing 10 self-catering properties – including a grand waterside stone and glass boathouse and a pair of authentic Roma caravans with an outdoor roll-top bath – hosts Paul and Georgiana Keane run a successful organic farm. Producing lamb, vegetables, oats and honey, it provides valuable raw materials for Inish Beg’s tailor-made cooking courses. Guests can spend time collecting apples from the orchard or herbs from the walled garden, before embarking on a crash course in anything from chocolate-making to fish preparation techniques (half-day from £40 per person).
Secluded one-bedroom house The Garden Retreat is just round the corner from Inish Beg’s heated indoor swimming pool (from £60 per night; minimum stay two nights).
Stay at a vineyard in Bordeaux
Sat in a deckchair on the sunny terrace of a charming 17th-century château surrounded by five hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec vines – there are few places in the world where a glass of wine could taste better. In the hands of the Charmet-Thomas family since the 1830s, Château Lestange is a working vineyard, its abundant grapes used to produce a red AOC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. Current incumbent Anne-Marie Charmet also rents out rooms – featuring softly faded paintwork, original floorboards and antique mirrors and portraits – to wine-lovers wanting a base for further exploration in the region (from £80). Bordeaux is 15 miles down the road, and the wine estates of Saint-Émilion are less than an hour’s drive away.