By Punam Verma.
I have been blessed to have eaten in some of the most exclusive restaurants around the world including Dubai, Hong Kong and the Seychelles, and I have even had Chef Nobu personally cook for me. However, fifteen years ago I had a dining experience that I can honestly say has not matched any other to date.
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons by Chef Raymond Blanc is without a doubt the most outstanding dining experience I have ever encountered.
It is housed in a beautiful English countryside manor in Oxford, with acres of green land surrounding it, but I could have been served each dish sitting at a bus stop and it would still be the best food experience I have ever tasted.
Our experience involved around twelve individual dishes. Now for someone who has grown up in an Indian household, we just had mains. We didn't waste time with starters and desserts. So twelve dishes was something extraordinary in my mind. How on earth was I going to finish each dish.
And so the experience began: Each dish was not too big or too small, and decorated like a piece of art. Each ingredient and herb were perfectly positioned on the plate, with just the right amount of seasoning and sweetness.
Every time I took a bite I didn't want it to end. The flavors were mind blowing, my tongue was in heaven. This was pure magic. We were served a beautiful closed shell that needed to be coaxed open, and as soon as I saw the perfectly cooked scallop sitting patiently inside, I was expecting to hear angels sing. It was like opening a kinder surprise. The chocolate dessert melted in my mouth like it had never tasted cocoa before. The magic was just endless.
Chef Blanc truly is a master at his craft, which is why in the first year of the opening of his restaurant it received two Michelin stars.
The fact that he uses seasonal and organic produce is what makes this restaurant one of the best in the world in my opinion. Most of the ingredients are grown in the Manor's two acre vegetable garden which produces over 90 types of vegetables, alongside fresh fruits and herbs.
Chef Nobu, Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White...I have interviewed you all and sampled your gorgeous food, however, Le Manor aux Quat'Saisons stole my heart fifteen years ago.