Summer Sorbet Secrets

I managed to beat the first British strawberries a few weeks ago by going to the Dordogne on a cookery course. The chef, a total charmer called Vlado, a Croat who fled, penniless, after the break-up of Yugoslavia to carve out an entirely new career, took us round the wonderful market in Bergerac where he managed to buy not only locally cultivated strawberries but the tiny wild version in which pure essence of strawberry seems so concentrated.

Then back we went to base, an ancient honey-coloured manor, where Vlado whipped up strawberry sorbet with champagne. This is the perfect summer dish and it took him only 25 minutes (not including time in the freezer). I twisted his arm for the recipe and here it is.

You need 500g strawberries, 50ml sweet white wine (he used local Monbazillac), 50g sugar and some fresh basil leaves, chopped. Leaving a few good-looking berries for decoration, bring the rest, except for the basil, to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Blend until smooth and add the basil.

Allow to cool and then put in the freezer for two hours, forking it over every 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes before serving, put in the fridge to soften slightly. Put sorbet balls in a champagne glass and top up with champagne and a strawberry or two.

Residential courses at Le Domaine de Foncaudiè

(00 33 553 611 390). I intend to pass on more tips from Vlado soon.