What is this photo, you might ask? Well it's a work of art, I'd say. Resembling an avant-garde painting, all I knew was I could barely eat it. And it was made specially for me. It was just way too pretty. This is white asparagus by the way. More on that later.
We were at Hotel Benvengudo in the countryside of Les Baux-de-Provence, and we had been invited to the hotel's five-star restaurant. We were rumoured to be dining under the hands of a Michelin chef, or his prodigy, or something fancy along those lines. We couldn't find out exactly, but we were excited. Of course, once again, as was the pattern on this gastro-odyssey through the south of France, the chefs at Hotel Benvengudo dazzled us. And stuffed us. Luckily our rooms were right next door.
Just as "wow" as this hotel was, the dinner we were served was a double "wow." We began with an amuse bouche – little assorted sandwich-type snacks.
We then all received beef tartare with a quail egg, in a soya dressing. Now ... I am thoroughly proud to say, that until this point, I had not declined a single menu item that was placed before me. I would call myself experimental but there are a few things I just cannot do, and tartare is one of them. For shame, I know. Look how beautiful it was! Our chef was clearly an artiste. And oh did I feel badly about not eating his beautiful creation. Here I was, the diner rude enough to rebuff the beef tartare. I begged my fellow diners to help me out, somebody take something off my plate. But we know how our meals on this trip go, and every little bit of room saved in the tummy was just so necessary. So, no takers. I frantically pushed it around my plate. And suddenly – busted! The server came and took it away. But they had been watching and noticed my plight, and Chef Aurelien Laget took it upon himself to make a vegetarian hors d'oeuvre just for ME. He placed before me the aforementioned work of art – in-season white asparagus so gorgeous and painstakingly designed, it looked like Chef had given it just as much care as the tartare. And I was tar-touched.
Our feast continued. Marinated gambas with tomato jelly, avocado cream and citrus vinaigrette. The shrimp had this intriguing foam on top. Again, a plate almost too pretty to eat. For our main we had roast fillet of duckling, artichokes and crispy potato.
Published journalist, world traveller, big thinker, fun haver