A few months ago I had the privilege of co-hosting an Autumn Food Styling and Photography Retreat with Christiann Koepke in Upstate New York. We spent four nights at the stunning Deer Hill Farm in the Catskill Mountains with a group of beautiful and super talented women; cooking, capturing, learning, and enjoying many delicious meals together. It was an amazing experience, and looking back on the photos and footage has brought back so many wonderful memories.
Before the event began we spent a few days preparing and gathering supplies in Manhattan. We picked up some fresh produce from a tiny farmers market in East Village, some beautiful foliage, natural beeswax candles and dried dahlias from The Flower Girl, and some Juice Press smoothies for the road (my fav clean green protein smoothie, yum!). It didn’t help that it was pouring rain the whole time, but made for some very funny moments!
From there we drove up through some pretty crazy weather; heavy rain, ice, and even a little snow, and finally arrived at our stunning location, now lightly covered in snow (beautiful!). After settling into the house and planning out the next few days we sat down and enjoyed my Smokey Tomato & Chili Spaghetti with a big green salad and a beautiful red wine from Syncline.
The following day our guests arrived from all over the country (including Justine who travelled all the way from Australia), and were welcomed with Christian's warm Whisky Apple Cocktail and a selection of Vermont Creamery Cheese. A favourite was the goat cheese and a divine rose petal jam that we picked up from Greecologies back in NYC (definitely worth checking out).
We then enjoyed a beautiful cosy candlelit meal; butternut autumn chili with fresh bread and vermont creamery cultured sea salt butter with a delicious autumn kale salad (I‘ll have to share the recipe with you as it turned out to be a winner). Then for dessert, we enjoyed my ’go-to’ flourless chocolate cake with vanilla mascarpone and vanilla whiskey baked strawberries with fresh mint (another recipe I need to share with you guys!). It was a delicious warming feast and the perfect kick-off to our retreat!
Over the next few days, we all had a wonderful time learning photography, branding and marketing, styling various table scenes, exploring the property and local town, and of course enjoying many beautiful meals together, prepared with the help of our amazing retreat assistants Rosy, Jeanette and Kristy.
A highlight for me during the retreat was our Saturday evening dinner under the stars. We styled a beautiful table outside by the fire pit and lit the table with candles. It was so dreamy. Cold, but dreamy! We ate the most delicious meal; mushroom tagliatelle with truffle oil and sage, roasted root vegetables, bitter greens, and bean salad with fresh bread and cultured butter.
Another highlight was our vegetarian Mexican feast where we ate crispy sweet potato and black bean tacos with fresh greens and goats cheese, and a huge bowl of the most delicious fresh guac with tortilla chips. The guac recipe is another I’ll have to share with you, in the meantime, there is a similar recipe here.
I also have to mention some of the delicious sweet treats we enjoyed, including the beautiful Apple Bourbon Honey Pies, and the Pumpkin Mascarpone Pancakes that we served with maple syrup, fresh local bacon and a beautiful cider we picked up from the local market. These recipes can be found over on Christiann’s website.
We had such a wonderful time learning and feasting with the best group of people! A massive thank you to our beautiful co-host Christiann for inviting Mike and I along. Make sure you check out Christiann's beautiful website and social channels. She also runs seasonal Secret Suppers in Portland, so if you are in the area be sure to check them out. So stunning! Also, special thanks to my husband Mike who captured these amazing video highlights from the event.
Looking forward to our next workshop adventure! x
A big thank you to our partners from the retreat:
West Elm for the beautiful tableware and decor.
Red Cottage Inc. for our stunning location at Deer Hill Farm.
King Arthur Flour for our selection of flours and baking ingredients (their gluten free blend is amazing!).
Vermont Creamery for our delicious cheeses and cultured butter.
Syncline Wine for our wine pairings for the retreat.
Chaljeri Meats for supplying our fresh local meat and eggs.
Steven Smith Tea for a selection of beautiful teas (my favs are the 'Meadow' and 'Rose City Genmaicha', so good).
House Spirits for the westward whisky and coffee liqueur.
Dona Chai for the best liquid chai ever.
Heirloomed Collection for the beautiful linen tea towels we gifted.
Amy Rochelle Press for beautiful custom menus.