Claire Keenan

A Weekend in the Cotswolds

by Claire Keenan At Thyme 1 Feb 16

A guest's experience of Thyme

The village of Southrop is quintessential Cotswolds: all meandering streams and honeyed stone, and it has a pretty church nestling between a Medieval manor and the exquisitely renovated buildings that make up Thyme. We arrived on a Saturday evening to settle into their charming country house hotel. A weekend organised by a mutual friend, we were eight couples, not all best known to each other at the outset who turned up on a windy dark winter’s night to be welcomed warmly by a young and incredibly friendly front-of-house team; a roaring fire, tea and scrummy home-made cake already laid out for our arrival. The surroundings ensured that everyone relaxed in each other’s company and after getting to know our fellow guests we made our way to our rooms, a quick look around upstairs revealed beautifully decorated bedroom suites, extravagantly warm on a freezing day, with comfortable beds and luxurious bathrooms decorated in an sophisticated country style, with all the little touches that you dream of when away ... heaven!

The Cotswolds has long been a place of respite for overwrought city folk, but Thyme offers something a little different to other Cotswold hotels, there are many ways to enjoy Thyme and as our group occupied all the hotel-suites we enjoyed the house for exclusive use, a Champagne reception was the precursor to the most sumptuous three course dinner - it truly is a place for foodies - with fine wine served in the grand candlelit dining room, it really doesn't get any better ... our menu, all home-made and where possible grown on the estate's kitchen garden & farm:

Onion tart, bitter leaves, Oxford blue
Aged beef fillet, wild mushrooms, Chianti
Our vegetarian ate a Garden chard and pumpkin risotto
Caramel pots, salted shortbread

The environment is relaxed in that under-the-radar way that all the world's best hideouts are, well-tended gardens, a handful of cottages beside the main hotel and gorgeous reception rooms, not to mention the Tithe Barn where we enjoyed an extravagant & delicious kitchen garden breakfast the next morning.  I said it couldn’t get any better but the Cookery School at Thyme is a total treat. All of us were wondering how it would work and if we could cook! The demonstration was such fun and Daryll & Marj, Thyme’s hugely entertaining chefs, made us all feel so comfortable, particularly my husband who is not practiced in the kitchen! There was much laughter and amazement at what we achieved ... making fresh pasta was a revelation.  We created a show-stopping Italian lunch, which was perfectly in keeping with our view out of the cookery school onto Thyme’s Italianate olive gardens:

Bagna Cauda - a warm anchovy & garlic dip with winter garden vegetables
Homemade Focaccia
Vincisgrassi - wild mushroom & pancetta lasagne with winter salad
Torte de Verona

We were all delighted with the final result. It was a hugely successful bonding session and we would all like to return. After long goodbyes and promises to keep in touch we left feeling relaxed, a little more knowledgeable about the food produced by Thyme’s estate and how to cook it, and above all very happy ...

Thyme would like to thank Claire Keenan, who visited Thyme this winter as guests of Alison & Neil Ostrer, for taking the time to descibe her stay with us.

If you would like to know more about our menus or the recipes mentioned above please don't hesitate to contact us 01367 850174