Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Lunch at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons

One lovely present that I received for my recent 21st birthday....(oh ok, my 30th birthday) was a fabulous invitation to lunch at Raymond Blancs place in Oxfordshire. My brother Dave, and his wife, Nic, are INCREDIBLY generous and VERY good at thinking up great presents for people, and I am a very lucky girl indeed.

Anyway, Rob and I managed to find a day in our very busy schedules where we could actually enjoy this treat and today was the day...

I am going to bore you with practically every darn photo that I took-sorry! But it's such a beautiful place. The staff were welcoming, attentive, had a sense of humour and such attention to detail.

We were shown into the lounge to start with where we had Gin and Tonics and canapes. They were so beautiful. They had individual leaves on them, tiny bits of gold leaf, probably not the sort of thing we will be serving in the cafe, but very inspiring all the same! They tasted fabulous as well.

This is me after one gin and tonic, mis behaving. I think I was chewing an olive at the time of the photo being taken, just in case you wondered! Either that or I was stifling a giggle at the man braying with laughter in the next room.

Above is delicious smoked salmon which was 'With compliments from zee head chef' so that's nice. Very tasty, and I had to laugh at the small boy on the next table who had an espresso cup of 'zee crab bisque' as his 'special' poor boy, I am convinced he would rather have been tucking into a Happy Meal.

I was VERY excited about this, below. It was the 'Soupe au pistou du Manoir' which roughly translates as Garden vegetable soup with Parmesan Croutons. They brought the bowl out with prettily arranged vegetables in the bottom, such as broad beans, peas, carrots etc. and then poured the soup over the top from a silver jug! Good eh?! I had to hide my 'I'm incredibly impressed' face and just pretend I ate in places like that all the time whilst adopting a lofty expression. Inside I was squealing with excitment at the loveliness of it all though.

Next up was 'Truite, sauce epicee au concombre et wasabi beurre blanc' but for those of us who aren't fluent in french and only just scraped a GCSE ..Shetland sea-trout, samphire, cucumber and wasabi beurre blanc.

This was actually Robs desert, which was 'Fondant au chocolat "Alpaco" glace the jasmin "au Tibet" which roughly translates as chocolate fondant and ice cream! I had Exotic fruit 'Raviole' with kaffir lime leaf and coconut. Yum. The photo of mine didn't come out very well though.

Coffee and petit fours in the gardens...aren't they exquisite? I deliberately zoomed in so you can appreciate the work that has one into them. They didn't last long though. The top left one was a pavlova with basil cream and red currant was as light as a feather and melted in your mouth. Well not your mouth, actually, mine!

The gardens are so beautiful. They do their best to provide all of the vegetables from the gardens for the hotel and restaurant. I was really looking forward to wandering around them as have seen them on television on various gardening programmes and they did not disappoint. I could have spent hours wandering around taking photographs.

The well manicured croquet lawn.... Scattered around the gardens are bronze sculptures by artists Lloyd Le Blanc and Judith Holmes Drewry.

These are the Dancing Cranes, by Lloyd Le Blanc.

And this one is aptly named 'The Reader', sitting quietly under her tree.

'Sarah with her basket' keeping an eye on the vegetable and herb gardens.

There is also a fabulous bronze sculpture of a Scarecrow, but I couldn't get a very good photo of it 'up close' unfortunately.

I think he was my favourite.

We had a lovely time, and hopefully will get to go back again one day. It was a lovely way to remember my 21st (ok, 30th!) birthday, thankyou so much Dave and Nic for a lovely treat. Coffee and waffles on me when you're back in the UK!


Nicola said...

Wow! We are so glad you enjoyed it - a much deserved jaunt for a very lovely lady and her equally lovely husband. The weather looks like it was ok - at least it didn't rain! I am now starving and frantically re jigging the menu for our evening meal - omlette, salad and oven chips seems a little bit bleurrrrgh after looking at all that culinary loveliness! Perhaps next time you go it will be for an overnight stay?!! We'll start saving now for your 40th...
Nic xxx

The List Writer said...

Oh I have to go - I'm so envious!

That food! Those gardens!

And I bet the waiters were dishy too.... Sigh.

Rachel said...

You lucky, lucky thing! It all looks so fabulous, and how wonderful to be able to walk around in those lovely gardens afterwards!

Cowboys and Custard said...

Ce'st tres magnifique Anna..
I must say I could just about stomach a meal there.. do they do doggy bags?
I am very glad to hear that you have had a joyful diversion from all your recent hard slog.. and not a spider in sight!

Michele xxx

Dragonfly said...

Anna, that looks absolutely fabulous - you lucky girl! Thanks for sharing such a mouth is watering!

serendipitylovesnewyork said...

What a gorgeous treat for you. Everything looked so yummy.

April said...

OH, you lucky, lucky lady!!

April xx

Janette said...

how fantastic, what a fabulous treat makes me think that I might have to start sowing seeds in the minds of my husband and family seeing as it is our 10th wedding anniversary in Jan - what a good idea methinks.


pink-petal-designs said...

Looks fantastic, glad you had a nice day and i love the name No 9
Sarah x

mollycupcakes said...

What a fabulous 21st present (lol 30th).
It all looked so yummy, how on earth did you choose? Did they have a english discription next to the French?
The gardens look wonderful, that's one for a trip sometime.
I love the lady with her basket and hat very sweet.
Glad you had a fab time honey well deserved. And to share it with your lovely fella too, what more could a girl want.
Many hugs.
Catherine x

Vanessa said...

The place, food and gardens look great! What a thoughtful present from your brother & sister in law for your 21st birthday!

You should go back for your 30th, just a thought!

Vanessa x

driftwood said...

what a fantastic present! and a wonderful meal, looks amazing! nice to see a photo of you too!

Petticoat Lane said...

What an amazing treat and what an wonderful brother and sister-in-law you have lucky lady. Your family never fails to amaze me! all wonderful looking, kind generous, multi talented and give you the most amazing gifts! Did blokes broad beans give them a run for their money? Inspiration perhaps for an expansion into Lens allotment? Obviously we could re-cover the armchair in Cath Kidston fabric!

Red said...

Wow, Garden girl, you're pretty...

Vintage Amethyst said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful gift for your 'he-erm' 21st!
Glad you had such a lovely day, it all looks completely beautiful. Glad you took lots of photos for us all too, I love those bronzes especially Mr. Scarecrow.
Love Alison x

Sal said...

What a fabulous present!It all looks so beautiful! ;-)

dottycookie said...

Goodness, that brings back memories - glad you had a fab time. We had a one night honeymoon there (long story as to why we only had one night, but there you go), and a return visit on our 5th wedding anniversary. And now I think we're going to have to go back. It is an amazing place ...

Hen said...

Really enjoyed reading your post. My other half bought me a cookery day at Le Manoir as a birthday present and I attended a few weeks back. It was fabby! I blogged about it if you fancy a look (lots of similar piccies of the kitchen garden)!
Best wishes
Hen x