Port Jelly to be jelly of!

So I guess one can definitely say now that summer has gone. It’s absolutely pouring down with rain outside, and has been all day. I quite enjoy rain, so it’s not the end of the world  in my opinion but such weather does tend to put a dampener (see what I did there?) on plans to go out and visit places. As luck would have it, the weather on the weekend before last was absolutely fantastic; it really did feel like summer was squeezing out every last scrap of sunshine and warmth before this descent into perma-grayness and so what better time than to have one last outing?

We decided to to visit a place nearby called the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay – a Cistercian monastery near Versailles, founded in 1118. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go to for absolutely ages and I’m so glad we finally went. The large grounds have three different hotels nestling in the shadow of the ruined church; the largest of which – the abbey itself – has some seriously nice rooms. Period furniture, copper bathtubs… and only €290 a night. To be fair, it’s actually not unreasonable as far as some hotels go! Luckily, the hotel hasn’t done what often happens when they take over a large expanse of land – making it all private property and you’re never allowed in unless you’re staying at the hotel. No, here you can get in for just €7 to look around the grounds and it’s well worth the entry fee.

Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay

For the princely sum of €17 you can get a ticket which includes entry and then some tea or coffee and cake from the hotel tea-room. I opted not to go for this option, thinking that I’d just visit the tea-room separately and get a little something later. Well… let’s just say that getting that ticket for €17 suddenly seemed like a good idea after looking at the tea-room prices. Tasty stuff though, and lovely to have a little sit down next to the church and enjoy the sunshine.

Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay

Assorted cakes at the abbey

William had fun dashing about while Mommy and Daddy took a well-needed tea break:

William having a grand old time

I can definitely recommend a visit out there to anyone if you happen to be in the area. The gardens and grounds are beautiful alone, let alone the church and abbey, though I was rather partial to the speculoos and strawberry cheesecake as well and these are probably worth the visit in themselves!

The church at the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay

On to today’s recipe – a little simple something which is perfect for using up left-over red wine, or the remnants of a bottle of port. Once made, it’s the perfect accompaniment for cold meats and patés. It’s incredibly simple to make and takes literally five minutes and as well as being great to have at home, it also makes a wonderful host/hostess gift.

Port Jelly

Port Jelly
An easy to make accompaniment to cold meats and patés
Write a review
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
6 hr
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
6 hr
  1. 200ml Port or Red Wine
  2. 2 sheets of Gelatin
  3. 1tbsp Sugar
  4. Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. Start off by soaking the gelatin in cold water.
  2. Heat up the port with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Remove the gelatin sheets from the water and place into the pan with the port and then stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the port solution into a canning jar or bowl, before covering and allowing to cool. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to set (about 5 or 6 hours) before enjoying.
  1. Gelatin powder can easily be used in place of gelatin sheets - simply follow the instructions on the packet to replace it.
Five Euro Food http://www.fiveeurofood.com/


  1. says

    Look at all the wavy hair on William. Such a cute moose shirt.

    The port jelly sounds tasty and easy to make. Is that some sort of meat pie or pate in the background?

    I agree that that €17 fee sounds worth it for the tour and tea and cake. The grounds seem lovely. We have a similar though much smaller attraction locally … 3 buildings on a 15-acre estate: the manor house, the coach house and the gatehouse. It was designed in the 16th century Tudor-Jacobean style of an English Manor House and construction on the main house was started in 1904.

    The grounds are opened for a 3 day art show and sale yearly. Entry fee is very reasonable and used to help maintain the property. Usually they get rain it seems though this past year was amazingly sunny and clear.

    People can book the place for weddings and I’ve had tea and cakes there one year when I was exhausted walking around. Unfortunately, it was so long ago, I can’t remember what I had. :)

    • says

      Hi A_ – yes, it’s a paté in the background we bought from a local farmshop! I love places like this, and as I mentioned, I’m so happy that you can still go in as a member of the “general public”, and don’t necessarily need to stay at the hotel!

  2. says

    What a beautiful place to spend the day! Thanks for sharing all of these gorgeous pictures. My favorite one is the one of William. :) What a great jelly and so easy to make! I can definitely see this on a cracker and cheese plate.

  3. says

    Charles, this is the coolest recipe — any idea what quantity of gelatin is in a sheet? (gelatin is generally sold in envelopes here; I don’t have any on hand but I’m guessing about 7 grams per packet; just wondering if 1 sheet would be equivalent to 1 packet or what the ratio might be)– I’d love to try this! The church and abbey look beautiful and the breezeway photo is something else – wow! (as is William of course – great hair! can he give me some styling tips? ;-)).

    • The Wife says

      Only wash your hair once a week (and only during duress), never brush it voluntarily and use banana as a styling gel.

    • says

      Hi Kelly – I just checked. The packets I buy have 9 sheets. The whole pack is 17g, so that’s 1.9g per sheet. If you’re using powdered gelatin I guess you’d need a different amount. Sissi is a big fan of the powdered variety… says it doesn’t clump so easily. I’ve never had the problem with sheets to be honest… you just need to make sure the liquid is hot when you add it and stir it well!

      You know, I’ve *never* heard the term “breezeway” before… I had to look it up, so I learned a new word today. It’s not actually a breezeway though – the circle part would have had stained glass in it at one point, and the whole thing would have been covered (it was the church, which is now in ruins).

        • says

          Ah, I see – my apologies… yes, in that case – definitely, it’s a breezeway now. I know nothing about them… didn’t know it could apply to something “accidentally” created! :)

  4. says

    Yes, I’m well jell of your jelly – what a beautiful old fashioned and delicious recipe. But I want to say a HUGE thank you for the post about the Abbaye. I was very lucky to have stayed there many years ago – I was on a business trip to Paris and my usual hotel was full and my clients put me up there for the night. It was soooo beautiful but alas I was alone so it was a strange experience dining in this fabulous hall and my room was enormous…I promised myself I’d go back one day with Big Man but could never remember the name of it. Thank you! WIll have to start saving up my centimes though :( Gorgeous photos of William – love his curls :)

    • says

      Aah, now I’m “jelly” of you! I’d love to stay here… what a huge bonus that you got to stay here instead of your “usual” hotel. That must have been amazing!

      I do hope you get the chance to go back again – take photos if you do… I’d love to see the rooms as well!

  5. says

    It’s absolutely astonishing to me that there can be buildings around that are that old. I would absolutely love to wander around those ruins. I love the old abbey. What a shame the roof is no longer there but considering a thousand years or so have past, those builders and architects from long ago definitely deserve a pat on the back. It’s also incredible to me that your summer can disappear so quickly. Our seasons are so much more subtle xx

    • says

      Oh yeah, it’s incredible… houses built these days might not even last 50-100 years, and then you have these which are still structurally sound after almost 1000 years! Sure, no roof, but nevertheless solid!

  6. says

    I haven’t seen your wife but William looks so much like you! Love the wavy blond hair, so adorable.
    The outing looks like a fun time, I love exploring just gardens and grounds, of course tea time sounds like a great diversion too!
    I don’t drink so would never make this, but I love the colour on the port jelly, just gorgeous.


    • says

      Thanks Nazneen. My parents say he looks a lot like my grandmother on my father’s side sometimes!

      I guess you could make this with grape juice maybe… it would still be enjoyable with cold meats or crackers, especially if you added a lot of nice black pepper!

    • says

      Ah, it was remiss of me to forget – you’d need to use agar agar as well instead of gelatin. I’m not sure how much agar agar you’d need but I think just a small amount for something like this… it can be quite “efficient”!

  7. says

    What a gorgeous place! The kind of place I would love to stay at….if I won the lottery of course! But on to your jelly – what a down right brilliant little recipe! With ingredients you probably have in a cupboard somewhere (although there is rarely any left over red wine in this house!) this is just so simple! How long does it keep in the fridge? I am going to use this as a Christmas gift idea… Love it Charles x

    • says

      Hi Anneli – I didn’t try (it doesn’t stick around long enough since I eat it fast, lol) but at a guess I’d say at least a couple of weeks… it’s just wine, sugar, gelatin, really, so nothing which can go off really.

  8. says

    I loved this post. We get to see sweet William, have a delicious recipe and see part of your beautiful countryside. I tried to make reservations at the hotel several years back but it wasn’t available…it looks wonderful.

    • says

      Hi Karen – what a coincidence… it’s too bad you couldn’t get to stay here in the end… I hope you will have a chance to try to do so again in the future!

  9. says

    What gorgeous images!!
    I love photographing old buildings, they are so spectacular, and your son is so super cute.
    …I didn’t understand the term you used in your recipe for port jelly “leftover wine…” I don’t think we have that here??
    I never knew how to make a port jelly to serve with cheese! Thanks for sharing, We usually buy about 50gm for $6, very expensive, now that I know how to make it myself!

  10. says

    Hello Charles! Your little guy is getting so big and is adorable, just like his daddy. What a beautiful little trip and gorgeous grounds and I see the sun was peeking through for you. Well talk about rain and wind we are just about getting ready to be slammed by super typhoon Usagi which is less than 200 km from us now so I thought I would cook and catch up on some of my favorite blogs before we loose power and internet. Take Care, BAM

    • says

      Sorry Charles I got distracted and hit send before I had a chance to comment on that port jelly. I like how it is just delicately sweet and a perfect accompaniment to a cheese and cracker platter. I will have to remember this recipe for later. Take Care, BAM

  11. says

    What a beautiful place Charles! I can’t believe it was built in the 1100’s. That is incredible! America is so much younger in comparison to the rest of the world. I’m always blown away by history. It’s just fascinating. And that tea room view looks like a very relaxing place to spend an afternoon. I bet you got some fantastic pictures. I like your phrase perma-grayness. I’m going to use that. Typically I say blanket-gray, but I like perma-gray. It’s fitting. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy, it’s crazy isn’t it? I find it so bizarre when I read on blogs about people (in the US) who visited some “historical” area, where the buildings date back to the early 1900s or something… to a European that’s just… nothing. For example, the island in the sea I visited a few days ago (you commented on the photo on Facebook I think…), the first monastery was built there in the 8th century! I think I heard it said that “In America, 100 years is old. In England, 100 miles is a lot”. That can show the differences between the cultures quite a lot I think.

  12. says

    Just the sound of tea, cake and church setting has me sighing wistfully :) Looks like a beautiful place, worth the money.

    Your wine jelly recipe has come along at the perfect moment. I have some left over red wine from Saturday dinner that I didn’t know what to do with. This is just perfect. I am planning to make some ribs tonight, and this is just the boost that I needed. Thank you for sharing this Charles. Hopefully I will have a couple of pictures of this to share soon.

  13. says

    Such a lovely place! The sweets look extraordinary too. It doesn’t seem like a big price to pay for tea and a dessert in such an amazing place (the night at the hotel is reasonable, considering what you get for the same price in many European countries…).
    As you might know I am crazy for savoury jellies (I made some more chilli jelly this year), but I have never tried port jelly and love the idea. It would make an elegant addition to any meat. And maybe a nice present too!

    • says

      No, not at all – compared to many cities, staying in an upmarket hotel wouldn’t be that much less than this, and it would be a fantastic experience to stay in such a place. Not really suitable for little kiddies though, so I think I might have to bear this place in mind for a time when my son has grown up and left home!

  14. says

    Oh my, William is growing up so fast! I can only tell I’m aging faster than I think by looking how baby grows. 😀 He’s a good looking little gentleman, Charles!

    I’ve never tried port jelly before, but very interesting that’s made of wine. I bet my husband would love this jelly!

    Such a gorgeous place. When I was small, I dream to live in an European architecture like that. Tee hee.

    • says

      Oh, so fast indeed! I went for a walk with him the other day, and even though I took the stroller he walked the entire way through the forest… and only 13 months! Crazy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *