France – Jour 8 – Part 2

Dinner at Le Benaton

Tonight’s first group meal altogether was at the one Michelin starred restaurant – Le Benaton.  Apparently – un benaton is the basket that the harvesters use to collect the grapes for vintage – so it was appropriate for our first night in Burgundy.


We started with a kir royale – Burgundy style – and were very happy to toast the beginning of our riding adventures.

Les Amuse-Bouches

To start, we were served a variety of amuse bouches- it’s so hard to remember what was what.  The little cornets were amazing with mustard flavoured ice cream, then there was a whole variety of small mouthfuls including prawn tartlets, cheese gougeres, cubes of some sort of pate, a savoury gingerbread, and some molecular gastronomy little globe of goodness.

Les escargots with garlic foam and crustacean essence

This next course – of course, would have to be les escargots!  I’m not terribly fond of them, because I’ve always found them quite rubbery – but these ones were quite tender – and the garlic foam helped to complement / distract me from what I was eating.  Naturally, Andrew passed on these little beauties!

Lynn from Las Vegas was pleased to model our first wine for the evening, a lovely Saint Romain chardonnay!

Pomme d’amour – Foie Gras presented as an apple

Perhaps Heston Blumenthal wasn’t the first to put patés on the menu dressed up as fruit.  This apple consists of a very generous serve of foie gras, delicately covered by a fresh berry gel – and was beautifully complemented by an apple puree and a quenelle of orange rind compote.  Served alongside was a beautifully light, freshly baked, still warm mini brioche – absolutely delicious – and an amazing presentation that is a bit of the head chef’s, Bruno Monnoir’s, signature style.

Pinot Noir from the region for our next courses…

Poulet rôti avec champignons & les pommes de terres

This chicken was absolutely to-die-for!  The flesh was tender and melt in the mouth, the skin was beautifully seasoned, the sauce delicious and rich – and the mushrooms were a mix of champignons and girolles, and the small roasted potatoes were tenderly scrumptuous!  A fantastic main – simple but executed with such elegance and finesse.

La Fromage

And of course… no French meal is complete without cheese.  We enjoyed a small selection including a spice crusted chevre, an ash coated savoie, and an epoisse (the famous washed rind cheese).

Le dessert – macerated strawberries with cream

For dessert – an amazing dish of strawberries, with cream and biscuit crumbs strewn across the top.  It was fresh and creamy – a lovely light dessert to finish the meal on.

Petit Fours

But wait…. there’s more!!  We were endowed with this selection of gorgeous petit four – which included a lacy lolly pop created from some sort of praline, profiteroles filled with a violet and chocolate cream, salted caramels, pink marshmallows, and a creamy milky ball of liquid deliciousness.  Oooh la la!!

If the rest of our meals were going to be like this… we were in trouble.  We rolled out of the restaurant – still enjoying the spirit of conviviality that would grow into friendships and familiarity over the next few days.  Let the adventure continue…