France – Jour 15 – Part 2
Dinner at Domaine des Hauts de Loire
Tonight we were eating in…. At the 2 Michelin starred restaurant that is Domaine des Hauts de Loire! The chef at this restaurant is Rémy Giraud, and he has been there since 1988! He describes his food as contemporary, although it’s based on traditional principles.
We felt very special – as the dining room is truly spectacular. In fact, it was so spectacular – I got Andrew to take a photo of the table setting. Alas… he still had the camera set on “sunset mode” – so our photo is a bit awash in sunset tones. Sorry about that – but hopefully you can still get a glimpse of how amazing the restaurant looked.
Les Amuses Bouches
Our first course was a range of gorgeous little mouthfuls – almost like a gallery of amuse bouches! From the back to the front – white bean puree with crouton, compressed cantaloupe, terrine with wine jelly, and mini smoked salmon and avocado club sandwich.
Our second course was a lovely appetiser – to be honest I cannot remember what was in this dish. Visually, you can see there was some delicate foam, and perhaps some beans… but I’m coming up with nothing… maybe if some of my dinner companions are reading this they could help out and pop something in the comments! Naughty Helen, bad blogger!
Mousse de Persil: Aux petits legumes et huile de noisette
But on to our third course – parsley mousse served with baby vegetables and hazelnut oil. The presentation was exquisite and a perfect example of food as art! In terms of taste, it was surprisingly good – the mousse was creamy and deeply flavoured, and the vinaigrette was the perfect foil – as its sharp flavours helped to cut through the creaminess, but also complemented the herbaceous essence of the mousse. Delicious.
Le Rouget: Poêle aux feuilles de lomo. Haricots riz de Chambord, olives Taggiasca et aioli vert.
Now… on to our fourth course – this was red mullet sautéed with the finest slices of pork loin. Also accompanying the dish were local beans, a crouton with a smooth green aioli, and a gorgeous bisque. Quite a beautiful and delicately executed dish, where the mullet remained the star despite some serious contention from its support acts!
Croustillant de caille: Roti Tatin d’oignons et girolles
Our next course was our main dish – 5 courses in!! This was quail which had been delicately wrapped in a pastry similar to spring roll pastry – so it was crisp and gorgeous. This was accompanied by a stunning mini onion tart and some sautéed girolles (my favourite French mushrooms!). An amazing dish!
And now a wonderful surprise for Andrew – rather than the quail, he was served 2 Michelin starred steak and fries!! He was very happy. Although I know he loves quail anyway – he was stoked that Duvine had arranged this for him. The steak was lovely (although he contends the steak from Oakdene in the Bellarine Peninsula is still the best steak in the world!).
Chariot de Fromages affines par Rodolphe Le Meunier
Apparently Rodolphe Le Meunier is THE Big Cheese in France – he’s based in Tours, and has achieved the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best artisan in France). Similar to Patrick Roger who also achieved it for his chocolate (see post here). It’s a big gig!
So, from the menu at least, it would appear that the chariot of cheese, which consisted of a gloriously filled trolley where about 100 cheeses jostled for attention, was put together by the best cheese artisan in the world! So, the cheese trolley here is quite legendary! Alas – I didn’t get a picture of the trolley – but did get a picture of my cheeses!
I chose Comte (an aged hard cheese which has a gorgeous flavour) and my favourite: l’epoisse! Washed rind cheese. So… that was the 6th course in…
Dessert Amuse Bouche
Now… one can’t just leap into dessert, can one? No, we must first have a dessert amuse bouche! So, we were treated to a beautiful citrus mousse, set atop a round of brioche. This was garnished with some pressed apricot, pistachio, lavender powder and passionfruit sauce. Lovely!
La Figue: En tarte fine et crème glacée à cardamom. Rôtie au vin d’Hypocras.
And now… for dessert! I’ve lost count… is this the 7th or 8th course…. I think 8th. This was a fig themed dessert – we had a beautiful tart which was served with a delicious cardamom ice cream. There was also a fig that had been roasted with Hypocras wine. Apparently, Hypocras wine is a medieval wine sweetened with honey. Thus, the roasted fig was very sweet – and quite large! I pretty much stuck with the tart. It was a little bit of fig overload!
Les Petits fours
Enfin… petits fours. Just when you thought it was safe – the lovely waiters (and can I say – the service at Domaine des Hauts de Loire was spectacular) brought out the final dish of the evening: our petit fours. We were valiant, we were tenacious – we did manage to eat some of them! Once again – not a single petit four – but multiples. Shortbread topped with fresh fruit, pistachio wantons, and poppy seed bread with vanilla cream and blueberries.
Phew… what an adventure. And what a start to our Duvine tour. Thank goodness I rode the entire 50km!
Tomorrow is another day… let’s see what it holds… but for now I’m just going to waddle up to my room….