France – Jour 19 – Part 2

Dinner at Domaine de la Tortinière

Just before dinner we had a small cocktail reception where we were able to watch our Duvine Loire Valley slideshow – prepared by Padraic.  He had a lovely title for us:  The Brotherhood of the Knights of the Grey Sweater!  I note that Padraic has worn his in honour of our final dinner!

Tonight we were dining in house – at the hotel’s restaurant.  David Chartier is the Executive Chef at Le Restaurant, and while it does not have any Michelin stars, he has worked in a number during his career.

The bread is just beautiful in France.

Amuse bouche

An amuse bouche to tease our palates – I can’t remember what was in this, but I’m pretty sure I got to eat two of them.

Raw mackerel ceviche served with citrus fruits, French toast and fresh herbs.

For my first course, I ordered the mackerel – I don’t know why.  I think it must have been the words “ceviche” and “French toast” – two of my favourite words in the foodie dictionary.  However, the mackerel tasted very strong, and I didn’t really enjoy it that much.  Padraic had ordered the same thing and really enjoyed it – but he did concede that mackerel is not usually a fish served raw!

Upside-down tart filled with bits of pork, soya-caramel and lambs’ lettuce salad

For Andrew’s first course he chose the pork dish – something I would have entitled Pork Tatin!  Anyway, it was absolutely scrumptious! I had a serious case of plate envy. The pork was sweet and tender, the pastry was a buttery piece of puff deliciousness, and the salad was fresh and light.  An absolute winner!

Topside of veal marinated in sweet pepper and served with vegetables “à la barigoule” and cockle tartar

Both Andrew and I ordered this main – although we had to send Andrew’s back because it was quite well done and he had ordered medium.  A silly thing – because the waitress tried to convince us that it was à point, but we knew it wasn’t.  The dish was okay, but it wasn’t brilliant.

Interestingly, Padraic ordered the monkfish – you know – that fish I don’t understand and can’t eat.  He offered me a taste, calling it “poor man’s lobster” – and all of a sudden – it clicked!  That’s exactly what it is.  Anyway – I don’t have a picture of it, but it was beautiful.  Served with couscous – it was delicious, and I actually had plate envy!   All of a sudden – I understand the monkfish.  I just had to share!

Le Chariot des Fromages

Our next course involved le chariot des fromages!  Ooh la la!  Look at all the choices.

L’epoisse & Le Camembert

I chose my usual – L’eppoise and a champagne camembert. It was served with this amazing chenin jelly.  I am going to go as far as to say it was even better than quince paste when eaten with the cheese.  Spectacular.

Andrew let me choose for him – so I picked a soft garlic cheese, and an aged comte. He’s had the comte before and liked it. The surprise for him was the garlic soft cheese – he LOVED it!!  Go figure!!

Traditional “Paris-Brest” with a light chocolate biscuit and almond milk ice-cream

For dessert – Andrew and I again ordered the same thing – the Paris Brest.  Even though there was a chocolate tart on the menu, I think we were all chocolate desserted out, if there is such a thing. The Paris Brest was lovely – gorgeous choux pastry, filled with flavoured cream and lightly garnished with chocolate.

Grand-Marnier soufflé, served with soft biscuit and grainy bitter orange sorbet

Padraic ordered the soufflé and was ecstatic – so much so that I had to take a photo of his jubilation! He loves soufflé and this was rich and delicious.  He was very pleased with himself.

Overall, our final dinner at Domaine de la Tortinière was interesting – I was a little underwhelmed.  Most of my dishes were misses rather than hits, and the service was very much miss.

Some of the servers were very inexperienced, and there were quite a few mistakes at our table.  Couple that with the fact that my choices appeared to be poor ones – well let’s just say – I don’t think it was my best dinner out in France. Thankfully the company was brilliant and we were enjoying ourselves regardless.

Ahh well… only one day to go and we would be on a plane home.  What will we do with our last day?