photo credit : @heatherbullard
When I received the schedule for our week at The Academy and read "Dinner en blanc" on Monday night, my interest was piqued, and I had a feeling this was going to be something special. The only information we received ahead of time was to wear something white.
After a morning of classes on Monday and an afternoon of free time we dressed in white and gathered behind the cottage for head shots. Just another gift of our stay. Jaci was the photographer and she made it quick and easy.
The boot is always a nice touch.
I also took the opportunity to walk around and get shots of all our Academy girls so I could remember their pretty faces.
Top Left: Bronwyn & Genevieve (Australia)
Top Right: Stacie (Texas), Denise (Oregon), Victoria (Colorado), Jamie (Vancouver B.C.)
Bottom Left: Lori (New York), Terry (France & California), Michelle (New York)
Bottom Right: Gina & Lynda (both from Texas)
Then we walked over the the chateau and watched as Heather & Jill added the final touches to our outdoor dining table.
Absolutely beautiful! White linens and dinnerware. Skinny beeswax candles. Greens & florals cut from the property. The table provided a setting for a magical night.
Laurent and Martine were also hard at work getting things ready.
They spent 3 days preparing this 7 course, authentic French dinner. The menu was thoughtfully prepared to go with the dinner en blanc theme -- all 7 courses were white. What an absolute treat!
COURSE 1: Amuse-bouches blancs
The appetizer course which was basically various crackers with white cheesy spreads
mini blinis et tarama blanc - cheesy spread with fish eggs
chevre frais a l'origan - goat cheese
fromage blanc aux herbes - white cheese with herbs
gougeres au fromage de Comte - amazingly delicious cheese puffs
COURSE 2: Huitres speciales de Marennes-Oleron
Oh, help me.
I've never had oysters before and these were quite large. If it was my choice I would have happily gone through life without sampling this ocean food, but I felt like I had to because Laurent had put so much work into preparing the meal. And he was so pleased to present each course to us. So Stacie and Jamie gave me lots of coaching and tips and best of all they warned me that it was going to taste like the ocean. Sure enough, they were 100% right. I put the whole thing in my mouth - a salt water, sandy explosion of gelatinous goo - they say you're supposed to swallow it whole but there was no way I was going to get that baby down without chewing. Again, they were so big. So I chewed slowly, trying to keep myself from gagging and finally, somehow I was able to choke down the sea monster. Water please!
My first oyster. And my last.
But hey, I'm still smiling!
COURSE 3: Foie gras mi-cuit de canard au Porto
Translation: Duck liver
Those French sure love their foie gras! I had this stuff 3 times over the week in various forms. Laurent prepared it with some kind of jelly and served it alongside cooked plums and cherries. The foie gras wasn't unedible, but you can only take so much. Again lots of water, and lots of bread.
COURSE 4: Asperges vertes et blanches
en emulsion d'huile d'olive de Toscane, basilic et zestes d'agrumes
White asparagus! I've never had white asparagus before and it was great! Laurent made a delicious creamy lemon herb sauce to spoon over the asparagus.
Each course was served individually and slowly so there was much time for visiting, laughing, noshing on bread. The pace is so different than what we experience here in America. Each course is a new adventure and every bite is savored.
Here is what the scene looked like around the table. I'll tell you that much of the laughter that night centered around the shock, interest, and confusion behind the concept of the TV show "Naked and Afraid". I really don't know how we got on the topic, but it did not die all night long! :)
COURSE 5: Quenelles de brochet en creme de langoustines
The main course -- pike fish served with a creamy lobster/crab sauce. It was very tasty.
COURSE 6: Plateau de fromages fermiers
Cheese plate! Give me all the cheese! I have always loved brie but the cheese here is in a category all it's own. Yum-o!
COURSE 7: Nougat glace et mousse de fraises Gariguettes de Perigord
Homemade hazelnut ice cream with strawberries. Great way to end the meal!
Again, what an amazing meal and we just marvelled at the way Laurent & Martine kept at it all night long. They prepared and served everything themselves, cleared the tables, did the dishes . . . everything. That is a lot of work and they put their hearts into it. We all thanked Laurent with a kiss-kiss at the end of the meal.
The meal began at 8pm and we finished the last course at midnight. Yes midnight!
It was truly magical. Here we are all dressed in white, seated outside a 13th century chateau in France, experiencing a 7 course authentic French dinner prepared & served by an old French couple who own & maintain the chateau. I mean -- who gets to do this kind of stuff??? Truly a once in a lifetime, special experience that I will ways remember.