Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons

Returning to Raymond Blanc OBE’s restaurant and hotel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (recipient of 2 Michelin stars no less) was restful and reinvigorating pause in what has been a frankly manic few weeks for me.

Vicki and son

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons-the stunning grounds

An overnight stay in the most breathtaking of fairytale-esque settings was just what this family needed: exquisite food, achingly beautiful views and a chance to not only breathe again, but also reminisce as the last time I’d visited Belmond Le Manoir was for my mum’s 40th birthday, aged 10 years old.

My Mum tells me I was a foodie even then, and had requested a little bit of all the cheeses offered for my dessert. My parents have since returned, but this was the first time I’d visited as an adult, and we can’t wait to return again.

Isn’t it just spectacular?!

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Raymond Blance Grand Chef sign at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir-gorgeous greenery

It was also rather special that we dined at the exact same table as I had on my first visit as a child, all those years ago, now with a young family of my all.

It’s funny how life can come full circle.

Now as we all know, Michelin star hotels and restaurants are not usually synonymous with children, but Belmond Le Manoir are family-friendly with the surroundings being warm and welcoming. There were also several other children staying at the hotel and dining at the same time as us.

dinner at A Visit to 2 Michelin Stars Hotel & Restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

child enjoys 2 Michelin stars dinner

These words in the menu are testimony to Belmond Le Manoir’s ethos and view on children.

‘Children of any age are not only accepted, they are welcomed. We have a special menu for them’.

A Visit to family-friendly 2 Michelin Stars Hotel & Restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Belmond Le Manoir is, without a doubt, a luxurious hotel and restaurant but there’s no awkwardness. The atmosphere is warm and cosy- an exquisite home from home with every little detail carefully considered from teddies in chef whites on the children’s beds and pillow mist on ours, and not forgetting the kids’ highlight: a TV above the bath which meant they could catch up with the World Swimming Championships whilst having a soak (and pretending to swim) in the art deco bathroom of dreams as they simultaneously lived out their best lives!

art deco style en suite bathroom at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

suite at the Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Utter bliss.

Now I want to rewind a little and take you through our time at Belmond Le Manoir chronologically, so I don’t miss a thing. Our stay was far too epic not to make this one massive post so pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy…

view into the gardens from the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

We started our morning taking parting in a Young Chefs Course at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School where the kids and Peter and I observed the brilliant Mark Peregrine, Director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School rustle up three quick, easy and delicious recipes made with many ingredients grown on site in the sprawling gardens at Belmond Le Manoir.

Mark is not only an accomplished chef with exemplary culinary skills but he’s approachable and kind, and put us all at ease so we felt at home in his kitchen.

kids in chef whites at Raymond Blanc Cookery School

I filmed our time there and of course at dinner, as well as doing several Facebook Lives which enabled me to engage with readers and followers in real time.

Raymond Blanc Cookery School

A shelf in the kitchen with jars and Le Manoir book

sieves in the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

pots and pans at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

Raymond Blanc books

The Raymond Blanc Cookery School

The boys make notes at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

Oliver, 7 writes about his favourite foods

Below I share the three recipes we were taught and cooked ourselves, along with the photos we took on the day, so you can recreate them at home.

cooking at the Raymon Blanc Cookery School

Mark Peregrine, Director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

the children listen to Mark Peregrine, Director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

The children take the Young Chefs Course at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

 

Potage aux quat saisons

 

  Potage aux quat saisons  by Raymond Blanc  Cookery School

 

Potage aux quat saisons ingredients. Veggies from the gardens at Le Manoir

salt and pepper

Over to Raymond Blanc…

A small tribute to ‘Maman Blanc’, and should I say Papa Blanc, too, as most of the vegetables would come from his garden. The success of this soup depends upon the freshness and quality of the vegetables used. However, you can vary the vegetables and herbs according to the season. Chervil is one of my favourite herbs and is very popular in France but hardly known in the UK, which is a great shame. This soup would always be served in my home.

chopping vegetables

vegetable soup

Serves: 4-6
Difficulty: 2/3
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Special equipment: Blender, pressure cooker

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 15g Butter, unsalted
  • 125g or 1/2 medium Onion, chopped 1cm
  • 60g or 1/2 medium Leek, chopped 1cm
  • 175g or 2 medium Potato, washed, peeled and chopped 1cm
  • 15g or 1/2 Celery, peeled and chopped 1cm
  • 150g or 3 medium Carrot, washed, cut lengthways and chopped 1cm
  • 100g Celeriac, peeled and chopped 1cm (or celeriac tops)
  • Garlic, small clove, roughly chopped (*1)
  • 80g or 1 medium Tomatoes, ripe, chopped 1cm
  • 5g or 5 pinches Sea salt (*2)
  • ½ g or 1 pinch Freshly ground white pepper
  • 600ml Water

To finish:

  • 40g 4 tsp Crème fraiche
  • 15g 1 tbsp Chervil

Making the soup:

In a large pressure cooker saucepan on a medium heat sweeten (3*) the onion for 3 minutes then add the garlic, and the remaining diced vegetables and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a further two minutes. Add the tomatoes and water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook for 12 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Serving:

Serve in a large warmed tureen.

Variations:

This soup can be simplified by omitting some of the vegetables, or you could add any other summer vegetables such as French beans, Coco beans, spinach, Swiss chard etc. could be added or replace a vegetable in this soup.

Any pasta, any bean or pulse would also be a great addition to this soup, it could almost be turned in to a main course – and more garlic of course.

This soup is fantastic if it is finished at the last moment with a fresh pistou, here is my recipe for the pesto.

Ingredients for the pistou sauce:

  • 30g or 1 handful Basil leaves and stalks, blanched for 10 seconds and refreshed (*1)
  • 20g or 4 clove Garlic, puréed (*2)
  • 100m Olive oil, extra virgin (*3)
  • 1 pinch Sea salt
  • 2 pinches White pepper

Making the pistou sauce:

Purée all the ingredients in the liquidiser, taste and season with salt and pepper, reserve. Keep in the fridge until required.

Any pasta, any bean or pulse would also be a great addition to this soup, it could almost be turned in to a main course – and more garlic of course.

Chef’s Notes (*):

*1 Garlic – the British are now eating as much garlic as the French, which is great news! As garlic is a potent miracle food, protecting against heart disease, infections and hundreds of other ailments. It is the best natural prescription for good health management!
*2 Salt – Always use the best salt with the least refining. Never use salt with horrible anti caking additives.
*3 Sweetening – by applying heat to the vegetables you are converting the starches into sugars, greatly enhancing the flavour of the soup.

vegetable soup at the Raymond Blanc Cookery Course

 

Shetland organic salmon, wasabi, watercress

 

  Shetland organic salmon,  wasabi, watercress

 

Shetland organic salmon, wasabi, watercress

A quick and delicious dish with flavours from elsewhere.

Serves: 2
Difficulty: 1/3
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Special equipment: Non-stick frying pan

Planning ahead:

The puree can be prepared an hour before you need it and left covered at room temperature.

Ingredients:

Shetland organic salmon, wasabi, watercress

  • 240g /2 Salmon steaks, organic, scaled filleted & pin boned, skin on

For the spinach and watercress puree:

  • 15g / 1 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 15g / ½ small Shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 50g Watercress, large stalks removed, washed, drained & roughly chopped
  • 100g /1 handful Spinach, baby, washed, drained, roughly chopped
  • 50ml Cream, whipping
  • 30ml / 2 tbsp Water
  • 2g / ½ tsp Wasabi horseradish
  • 2g / 2 pinch Sea salt
  • 1g / 1 pinch Pepper, black, freshly ground

Method:

Making the herb puree:

On a medium heat, soften the shallots in the butter for 3-4 minutes without any colour. Turn up the heat to high, add the watercress and spinach and cook for 2 minutes (*1), stirring from time to time until wilted. Add the cream, wasabi, salt and pepper, stir, return to the boil and remove from the heat. Taste and correct the seasoning if required. If preparing in advance, spread the herb puree onto a large tray to cool quickly, which prevents loss of colour. Otherwise, serve immediately.

Cooking the salmon:

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and cook for 6-7 minutes until the skin is crisp. (*2) Turn the fillets over and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the fillets on to the skin side again, season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for a further 2 minutes. Add a dash of lemon juice to each fillet and serve.

To Serve:

Spoon the spinach and watercress puree and juices into the middle of your plates, and top with the pan fried salmon.

Variation:

The salmon could be replaced by sea trout, turbot, brill or halibut, etc. The addition of some soaked mustard seeds would add a delicious texture to the herb puree.

Chef’s notes (*):

*1 If cooked for too long the delicate green would turn grey and the freshness would be lost
*2 The idea of this dish is to give the salmon skin a crisp texture by cooking it slowly; therefore the initial heat should not be too high.

Shetland organic salmon, wasabi, watercress

 

Poulet au Vinaigre

 

Poulet au Vinaigre

 

Poulet au Vinaigre

making Poulet au Vinaigre at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

Raymond Blanc Cookery School

chicken in vinegar

A little jewel of family cuisine. The success of this dish depends very much on the quality of the ingredients. Try to choose an organic or free range chicken and also a good red wine vinegar, such as a cabernet sauvignon. The dish can be prepared one day in advance and then reheated in the oven at 150C/300F/Gas mark 2. A generous helping of French beans makes an excellent accompaniment.

Serves (Yield): 4
Difficulty rating: 1/3
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Special equipment: n/a

Ingredients:

For the chicken fricassee:

  • 8 Organic or free range chicken drumsticks or thighs
  • 1tbsp Olive oil
  • 5 tbsp Good quality red wine vinegar (SU-SULPHITES)
  • 15g Unsalted butter
  • 100ml Dry white wine (SU-SULPHITES)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • Ripe medium tomato, finely chopped
  • Sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For sautéed potatoes:

  • 4 Medium potatoes, such as Desiree, Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled (if organic, leave the skin on) and cut into 2 cm dice
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 10g Unsalted butter
  • Small handful of fresh-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ Shallot, finely chopped
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Poulet au Vinaigre

chicken in a vinegar sauce

Browning the chicken:

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2. On a high heat, in a large casserole, fry the chicken pieces in the olive oil for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with 4 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of pepper.

Glazing the chicken:

Spoon out the fat from the casserole. Add the vinegar and butter and boil for 10 seconds, until the vinegar has reduced . Stir to coat the chicken pieces in the reduced vinegar and butter.

Baking the chicken:

Add the white wine, bring to the boil for a few seconds, then add the garlic, tomato and tarragon. Cover the casserole, transfer to the over and cook for 30 minutes (the liquid should not boil but should cook at a very low simmer, with just one or two bubbles barely breaking the surface). The chicken will be juicy and tender.

Sautéing the potatoes:

On a high heat, in a large frying pan, fry the diced potatoes in the olive oil for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown and tender. Season with 4 pinches of sea salt and 2 pinches of pepper. Reduce the heat and add the butter, being careful not to let it burn. Finally stir in the parsley and shallot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Finishing the chicken and serving:

Poulet au Vinaigre

Poulet au Vinaigre at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School

Remove the chicken from the oven. Taste and correct the seasoning if required. Skim any fat from the surface. Arrange the chicken pieces and sautéed potatoes on a large platter or 4 serving plates and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve the cooking juices separately.

 

Strawberry Crumble

 

Strawberry Crumble

 

making strawberry crumble

making caramel sauce

flambe strawberries

strawberries

Strawberry crumble

strawberry crumble

Making strawberry crumble at Raymond Blanc's Cookery School

strawberry crumble

strawberry crumble

A classically typical English dessert; perfected by the French. This dish is a lot lighter to eat due to the crumble mixture being cooked beforehand.

Serves: 4
Difficulty: 1/3
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 8 mins

Planning Ahead:

You can prepare the crumble topping 1 day in advance.

Ingredients:

For the crumble:

  • 100g Flour, plain
  • 50g Brown sugar
  • 50g Unsalted butter

For macerating the strawberries:

  • 300g Strawberries
  • 75g Sugar, caster
  • 5g Lemon, juice

Method:

To make the crumble:

  • Pre heat your oven to 170°C.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. With your fingertips rub the softened butter into the mixture until the crumble mixture forms a light breadcrumb texture (*1) place evenly on a metal oven tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Cooking the stawberries:

  • On a medium heat, in a medium stainless steel saucepan, melt the sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sugar turns to a light caramel add the butter to stop the cooking. Stir in the strawberries. Cook for 20-30 seconds just until the strawberries are cooked.
  • Place the hot strawberries into your gratin dishes and spoon over the toasted crumble mix.
  • Reheat in the oven or under a medium grill if needed.
  • Serve to your guests with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or crème fraiche.

Variations:

A great variety of different fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, plums etc… may be used for this crumble depending on the season and your personal preference. The cooking time of the fruit will vary though.

Chef’s Notes:

*1 Do not over work the crumble mixture or the gluten in the flour will be activated causing the topping to become heavy!

Such flavoursome food we immediately made again once home.

After relaxing in our suite it was time for dinner, which was as dreamy as you’d imagine. More than food, it was poetry and I realise how crazy that sounds but the photos will testify to my sentiments (along with the Michelin stars of course)!

Honest Mum wearing Summer dress in hotel grounds

2 Michelin Star Restaurant & Hotel Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons

I love Raymond Blanc OBE Chef Patron’s words at the start of the menu,

‘The table remains a powerful symbol of friendship and celebrations of life. In my family we could just about read the menu by listening to the conversation-a light start with drinks, the crossing of the bread by my atheist Father, followed by the main course of massive discussions on religion, garnished with politics and of course, the topic of sex for dessert…at which point my extremely devoted catholic Mother would hurriedly leave the room. Bon Appetit’.

So, what did we eat?

Opting for the à la carte we enjoyed delicate hors d’oeuvres and tomato amuse bouche (translated as ‘mouth amuser’), all a delight to eat, I opted for the fragrant risotto of seasonal vegetables, tomato essence and chervil cream for starter, Peter, the fresh Cornish crab salad, coconut, Kaffir lime sorbet and passion fruit.

homemade bread at Le Manoir

hors d'oeuvres

amuse bouche

vegetable risotto

fresh Cornish crab salad, coconut, Kaffir lime sorbet and passion fruit.

The children enjoyed tomato soup and a choice of freshly made bread.

amuse bouche

The main course was Roasted fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, braised Jacob’s Ladder, red wine jus as recommended by the Maitre Dee. Peter the pan-seared halibut, scallop, cauliflower, almonds and as Peter doesn’t eat meat they changed the turkey jus for a halibut sauce instead.

Roasted fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, braised Jacob's Ladder, red wine jus

the pan-seared halibut, scallop, cauliflower, almonds

The children scoffed halibut and seasonal vegetables with thick cut chips.

halibut and seasonal vegetables with thick cut chips

children's meal of halibut with thick cut chips

Desserts were, as expected, out of this world.

Lemon parfait wrapped in a thin honey biscuit, warmed spiced cherries blew the mind of Monsieur Peter and Manjari chocolate and raspberry crumble pour moi was quite extraordinary!

Lemon parfait wrapped in biscuit parcel

As you can see these desserts as with each course, are work of installation art that deserve a place at the Tate as much as they do the plate. The marriage of craftsmanship meets the perfect synergy of flavours and textures makes for a party in your mouth. Or shall we go with rave as the experience and  sheer joy lasts for hours!

 

Manjari chocolate and raspberry crumble

Side view!

delicious Manjari chocolate and raspberry crumble

The kids were also lucky enough to be invited into the kitchen (spotless with friendly faces greeting us at every turn) and chose vanilla ice cream, and raspberry sorbet, respectively. The homemade marshmallows were the metaphorical cherry on top and delighted the boys no end who loved their entire meal and were well behaved and polite making mama and papa proud.

Raspberry sorbet

We ended the meal, retiring to our elegant deluxe garden suite for fresh mint tea (again for the gardens there) and some seasonal fruit. I’ve shared pictures taken earlier in the day, below.

The boys slept in their sweet beds by the bay windows and the decor is exactly the style I dream of, for our forever home one day…it’s classically romantic with a luxe silk sofa, heavy floral curtains, chaise dark wooden floors and lavender by the windowsills overlooking the striking lavender path below hence it’s namesake Lavande.

Light and spacious is was the perfect getaway for the family and we’d love to return in the winter and pop the wood-burning fire in the room on. Bliss.

elegant deluxe garden suite at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison

Complimentary chocolates at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison

Cute Chef teddy

Adorable chef teddy waiting on the bed for us

elegant bedroom at Michelin Star hotel

Beautiful suite at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison

Comfortable cosy bed at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison

Children excited at seeing chef teddy

The following day saw us enjoy a leisurely breakfast before roaming around the picturesque gardens, bees nuzzling the flora, birds overhead and one little friend fast asleep the boys became besotted with, a Japanese garden of dreams and essential the best day of our life pretty much after weddings (I married Peter twice) and childbirth. There’s a testimonial for you!

Corridor at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison

Breakfast table

Flowers from table arrangement

Fruit salad

breakfast coffee

breakfast - hash browns, mushrooms, tomoato

breakfast - scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bacon, tomato

Gorgeous breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

Then it was a skip down the path into a horticultural Narnia we never wanted to leave…

winding path in picturesque gardens

Child exploring gardens

Wild purple flowers

purple pink and blue flowers in the gardens

Honest Mum in the Japanese garden

Children playing in Japanese gardens

Heron sculptures in the lake

Child exploring gardens

Sculpture viewed through leafy doorway

pink flowers

sunflower

greenery

ripening tomatoes

growing sugar snap peas

water tap

bumble bee on purple flowers

bee flying to purple flowers

bee with purple flowers

beautiful Japanese gardens

growing vegetable

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - house and gardens

apples growing on a tree

birds egg on the ground

wild flowers

pink flower

gorgeous Japanese garden

 

beautiful woodland

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons -the stunning gardens manicured lawns

Oxford County street sign

growing fruit

fruit growing on tree

Feeling so content is thirsty work so on our return to the closest hotel grounds we sipped tea and dined on the chocolate crumble once more as Peter had forgotten to take a photo of my dessert the night before. It’s a hard life reviewing 2 Michelin star restaurants I can tell you 😉

raspberry and chocolate crumble

Then we sat in the gardens and watched the kids play.

sofa and table in gardens

children playing on lawns

fresh mint tea

biscuits

cute

Child runs on the lawn

What a couple of blissful days.

You must visit Belmond Le Manoir, it’s a little bit life-changing.

Don’t miss the vlog

 

Like what you've read? Then why not follow Vicki on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram

Never Miss A Post!

Subscribe to Honest Mum's mailing list:


29 Responses

  1. Chloe

    Hi, what a lovely place to stay and learn how to cook, how great that you were able to dine at the same table that you did as a child #BrillBlogPosts
    Chloe recently posted…Review of Lidl Sweet PopcornMy Profile

    Reply
  2. Emma Peach

    What an utterly stunning place! It’s great that the boys got involved in the cooking too…train ’em young 😉 The soup and the lemon parfait look delicious!

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com
    Emma Peach recently posted…Striped Statement Sleeves and JeansMy Profile

    Reply
  3. Laura - The Mamma Fairy

    Wow, the setting really is magical. I have actually never heard of a Michelin start restaurant thats so family friendly. Sounds ideal for a special occasion. #brillantblogposts

    Reply
  4. Andreea

    Wow, it’s the perfect combination between luxury and nature, looks great! And that bathroom :D. I can defo imagine myself spending some time there.

    Reply
  5. Twicemicrowaved tea

    Wow, the hotel and the food looks amazing! I’ve never had stawberry crumble before so may give that recipe a go! I’m also surprised how welcoming the hotel was to children. I never would have expected that for such a lovely hotel! #brillblogposts

    Reply
  6. Emma@dayswiththedoyles

    Wow it’s like something out of a dream. What a beautiful place to recouperate and relax xxx

    Reply
  7. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    WOW! What an amazing place! Absolutely loved reading your review and looking at all the gorgeous photos. Food, grounds, your suite, everything looks so beautiful! I know now what I would like for our big wedding anniversary next year, it’s time to start dropping some serious hints 🙂 lol x
    Jo Allison / Jo’s Kitchen Larder recently posted…Aubergine, Tomato & Mozzarella BakeMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food

    What a wonderful stay! I love that it holds such nostalgia for you. The grounds of the hotel are breathtakingly gorgeous, and I love that they go out of their way to be kid-friendly. The chef’s course sounds like a dream come true! I particularly can’t wait to try the Poulet and Potage recipes. Ah, the sights! the food! the room! I might well overdose on happiness with a stay at the Belmond.

    Reply
  9. Vicky

    Oh I do love this restaurant! So glad you had a wonderful time – the photos are stunning xxx #BrilliantBlogPosts

    Reply
  10. Oldhouseintheshires

    This looks amazing!! Especially all the yummy food photos…..I need that pudding in my life! And that you all got to cook sounds so lovely. Your kids may turn their noses up at anything less Now!!! Gorgeous photos too. Glad you move went ok and hope your lovely boys go back to school ok. X #brillblogposts
    Oldhouseintheshires recently posted…6 Teen Sayings of the SummerMy Profile

    Reply
  11. jodie filogomo

    What an incredible experience!! Getting to actually see this food made and even do it yourself? Priceless!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    jodie filogomo recently posted…Summer Pool or Beach StyleMy Profile

    Reply
  12. Victoria - Lylia Rose

    What a beautiful location! The first three photos are stunning 🙂 I love the glass teapot too, it looks so cool with the leaves in. All the food looks amazing too.
    Victoria – Lylia Rose recently posted…Win £500 to spend on garden furniture at Rattan DirectMy Profile

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge