Posted by: lucylastic | September 10, 2008

Pushing the boat out…………..

It’s always nice to be wanted and I was positively begged to post another blog by a friend of mine recently! I can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks – where does the time go?

The most exciting thing that I have experienced in that time is surely an out of this world dinner and overnight stay at the wonderful ‘Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons last week – it was Lovely Husband’s birthday, so I thought I would treat him. And treat it was! From our damp arrival around 3.00pm last Friday afternoon, (cheerful valet parking, charming hostesses who guide you around, give a quick tour, point out the champagne bar, invite you to stroll around the gardens and positively poke your way around Monsieur Blanc’s wonderful poly-tunnels full or herbs, veg and salads) to the coolly-received-but-in-reality-heart-stopping shaking of hands with the great man himself over breakfast it was a delight!

The room, (all named after flowers, we were in Bluebell) was charming – large and comfy bed, soft Egyptian cotton, complimentary bottle of Madeira, bowl of lovely fruits – figs, greengages, little orangey things, grapes, tasty pears – discreet TV and music system hidden away in an Ottoman at the foot of the bed, large and well supplied bathroom – separate free standing bath with lovely oils and scented candles, nice power shower and his ‘n’ hers, (or maybe hers ‘n’ hers) basins…………….

………….but the best bit from our bird’s eye view in the eaves was the vista of the long, straight drive and being able to see all the comings and goings, new arrivals, (nice cars – Porsches, a Maserati, a couple of Jags) and the somewhat sodden wedding party who trooped in from the picturesque church right next door! The bride and groom at least managed to get a lift in a horse-drawn open carriage – the rest of the guests tottered in on high heels, (mostly women) or trotted along in top hats and tails, (and there was one very dashing looking man with an eye-patch). The well groomed horses and smartly dressed coachmen must have been hiding out in a shelter somewhere, because they were in noticeable contrast to a very bedraggled bride and damp looking groom. In some ways, it was great that they weren’t going to be deterred by the abominable weather – but it can’t have been much fun posing for photos on the waterlogged lawn – and the guests certainly weren’t up for it – they scurried inside the lovely round-house entrance and quaffed champers while the newly wed couple got on with it. I am sure they were thrilled that Monsieur Blanc came to greet them personally and to pose with them briefly, but if it were me, I would have been distinctly fed up that the dress of my dreams had ended up with a good 9 inches of mud and water staining the bottom of it……………….

We managed a quick tour of the gardens (almost) between showers and chatted to a very pleasant and knowledgeable young gardener about the micro salads and other experimental crops that are being grown there. Said gardener recommended the beetroot highly and that most certainly influenced our choice of the ‘Classique’ dinner menu – which featured home-grown beets in it’s starter dish. There followed a very light and tasty risotto – never one of my favourites, but I have now tasted two this summer that have convinced me it’s very much about the timing – over-cooked rice will kill delicate risotto flavours quicker than anything – and a re-run last night of Heston Blumenthal’s own version of this classic Italian dish has made me realise it’s tougher than you think to do it right! The fish course of Cornish Brill in a delicate creamy, lemon sauce was sublime and the main course of squab pigeon was tasty, if a little bony. A meringue quenelle with fruits was preceded (in true French style) by one of the best cheeseboards I have ever had the pleasure of tasting – and the waiter did a brilliant job of producing a platter to share between the very different tastes (me anything pongy, him anything not) of yours truly and LH.

The robust Spanish rose wine was a good accompaniment to the meal and the sommelier was not apparently sniffy at the choice at all! A plate of petits fours, jasmine tea and a nightcap all went down very well in the lounge (or possibly drawing room) afterwards. For me, the best thing about Le Manoir was that it was stylish but not showy, attentive but not overly so and first and foremost, welcoming and appreciative of everyone’s business. Hat’s off to Raymond!!!

By the way, ‘The Restaurant’, featuring the lovely Mr B starts again tonight on BBC2 at 8.00pm……………………



  1. Wow, you lucky things! I am planning a visit to Le Manoir for my next “big” birthday. And I’ve already set up the Sky+ for The Restaurant tonight. Love it!

  2. Fantastic…did you forget to mention a certain chili ;o)

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