That was a very special stop-off! Not only culinary – both lunch and dinner were superb and the comfort of the bedroom was on the high end of the spectrum, but for the whole experience. The Manoir du Lys regularly organise themed weekends. Obviously, these change according to the season, and, as I experienced the place in autumn, I was on for a real treat…If I tell you :Autumn and forest, it must be enough of a clue: mushrooms!
As we arrived quite late that morning, we just had time to drop our luggage in our bedrooms before heading to the restaurant part of the Manoir. And that lunch was everything you would expect from a Michelin-starred place: refined, innovative, and still somewhat light enough to keep us going through the busy schedule of the day. As a starter, I opted for pan-fried duck liver served with Chanterelle mushrooms and a rosemary-flavoured apricot jelly. A smoked eel creamy sauce perfectly complimenting the dish. It was then followed by a duckling breast with a harissa jus and fresh raspberries. Fantastic! The finale came in the form of a pear sorbet with pear tuiles, gingerbread crumbs and a quince juice. As for the drinks, with each course we were treated to a glass of different wine that Yvon Letailly – the Chef Sommelier – chose to complement each dish.
After lunch, I found myself with a good dozen fellow weekenders as we headed for the local Andaine forest. Spreading over 20 square miles, the place is known to be a mushroom paradise. And not any kind, there we’re talking mushroom royalty: Bolets, cèpes, chanterelles and morels. On that beautiful – yet chilly – Saturday afternoon, and under the guidance of our mycologist, we went deep into the woods, learning to spot the best areas where mushrooms can be found. We also learned some basics on how to recognise edible ones, and, just over two hours later, we came back to the hotel with full baskets.
Sticking with that very French tradition, we were invited to a lounge where our mycologist had organised a quiz around the mushrooms we picked that day. It was a lovely convivial moment, giving everyone the opportunity to not only improve our knowledge in mushrooms, but also a time to exchange and discuss with our fellow travellers.
Given the theme of the weekend, mushrooms were obviously centre stage!
The five-course menu opened with a creamy reduction of bolet mushrooms, shrimps and pike eggs, topped with pan-fried bolet mushrooms. Don’t ask me how Franck Quinton – the head chef- succeeded in harmonising these ingredients together, but he surely did.
The following dish was along the same lines. We hardly associate mushrooms with fish: still, once more, Ivon seemed to have found a way. We were served a fillet of red mullet, with tender carrots, fennel and olives, with a velouté of bolet mushrooms. That was divine….
Despite being on a more conventional side, the following stewed deer leg, with its currant jus, crispy bacon and potato purée was on par with the rest of the menu, and as beautifully cooked, bringing an earthy note to the very light dinner.
More surprising was an emulsified Camembert, with lightly candied pear nuggets and a nut oil salad. So light you barely knew it was already your fourth course.
I have to admit that, after a glance – more a stare – at the incredible cheeseboard sitting next to me, I asked the Maitre D’ if I could switch the dessert for the cheeses, which he kindly agreed to. I should point out that the apple dessert with crispy almonds my colleagues were served looked mouth-watering, but my love of cheeses got the better of me. As with lunch, Yvon choose each wine according to the dish it was served with.
A memorable dinner !
As you can expect in this kind of place, the room was comfortable and cosy, with somewhat a boutique-hotel look.
THE Regret …
Because of our hectic schedule, we missed out on the culinary course which took place on the Saturday morning, and which is part of the mushroom weekend package. Gosh, I would have loved that !!!! Let’s say it’s going to be my excuse to go back one these autumns….