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hotel review


BELMOND LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS


A GOURMET HOTEL


S


urrey Magazine was invited by Belmond to enjoy the magical country retreat and elegant dining at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with all the layers of a truly memorable culinary experience of colour, fragrance and taste straight from the sensational gardens created by legendary chef, TV personality, author and patron Raymond Blanc OBE. Pioneer of plot-to-plate cuisine, he has become one of the most respected chefs in the world! Le Manoir combines magnificent surroundings and ambiance with gastronomic excellence and celebrates its 35th birthday this year. It is the only country house hotel in Britain to have retained two Michelin stars for over three decades.


Set in the picturesque countryside village of Great Milton just 8 miles from Oxford, this food-focused luxury hotel started with a French-Anglo love affair back in 1982, when young chef Raymond Blanc first set his eyes on a 15th century manor house, and decided there and then that he had to have it and transformed it into the hotel and restaurant of his dreams! He was deeply in love with gastronomy and wanted to bring beauty, theatre and celebration into people’s lives.


Once through the colossal iron gates (that are never closed), we were welcomed by Le Manoir’s well-drilled team by name at the porter’s lodge to enter another world as we strolled up the dramatic French Lavender-lined pathway, ablaze with their purple and blue hallmark, with a tricolour flag patriotically above the doorway. The passion of Raymond Blanc permeates throughout Le Manoir from its


ravishing gardens interwoven with


stunning sculptures that lie hidden in the wildflowers, and art pieces making fun, bold statements alongside a vast organic kitchen garden to its 32 luxuriously lavish and uniquely designed suites and rooms filled with antiques and charming treasures to provide an elegant and home-from-home residential feel inspired by his favourite herbs and flowers. No impersonal numbers on the door. Our deluxe suite was a very French room themed and named “LAVANDE” after its sumptuous Provençal colour palette of soft lilacs, silvery greys and deep purple magic, overlooking the glorious brimming Lavender path below our large living room bay windows commandeering the


80 surreymagazineonline.co.uk


impressive front facade of the manor house. The soft furnishings, solid oak flooring and décor were so stylish and elegant with an intense heavenly fragrance from our private garden of Lavender plants and complimentary hand-picked fruit bowl connecting our room to nature. Fine bubble bath in purple hand blown glass bottle and luxurious ‘Branch d’Olive’, olive oil enriched toiletries in the marvelous massive white marble bathroom created a tranquil oasis offering a real sense of wellbeing and relaxation. No luxury was forgotten. Fabulous finishing touches including our own large real fireplace, a selection of classical CD’s to feed the hearing senses and a magnificent sculpture by a Venetian artist of an extraordinary purple violin moulded from a single piece of glass which truly belonged only to this room. We were blown away by these lavish suites created with as much care as his dishes and inspired by Blanc’s favourite places around the world from his travels!


Renowned for his passion for seasonal, sustainable and organic


ingredients,


menus are curated using only the best home grown seasonal ingredients. He champions an ethical approach to cooking, with sourcing and seasonality at the heart of it. The best dish, according to Raymond is the ‘one that’s in season.’ Dinner was an extravagant affair – a true feast for the senses inspired by the season’s glorious produce with pre-dinner drinks accompanied by exquisitely


presented


amuse-bouches exploding with a rainbow of flavours taking all your senses to another level! The seven course “Les Saveurs du Manoir’ Tasting Menu offers foodies an


innovative top notch dining treat with wine flight and delicious seasonal dishes served with style, elegance and Blanc’s Joie de Vivre! To start we loved the melt- in-your-mouth wild garlic, potato soup and asparagus. Followed by a colourful and vibrant, tasty and rich confit of cod, red pepper and chorizo beignet, and then a wonderful free range hen’s egg, watercress puree, Jabugo ham and crispy toasted hazelnuts. Favourite dish for us was succulent braised Cornish brill, scallop, oyster,


wasabi and Osclietra


caviar.


For mains, suckling pig, celeriac, prune ketchup, orchard apple and walnut pesto with a most refreshing, show-stopping blood orange carpaccio and to finish this perfect dining experience a complex Araguani chocolate mousse and almond milk ice-cream dessert. An unforgettable and delicious voyage of the senses like diving into Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concerto of flavours!


Raymond has always felt compelled to share his world of phenomenal cooking and in 1991 he established The Raymond Blanc Cookery School. This summer from May to October keen gardeners and passionate allotmenteers can add another dimension to their culinary adventure, and learn the secrets of his world-class gardens taking home garden to plate inspirations in The Raymond Blanc Gardening School. To book your place please call 01844 278881.


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