Note: Though this entry has not been completed, I have decided to publish it anyway, in honor of Chateau de Trigance being such an amazing restaurant.
The price of our room at the Chateau de Trigance included a four course dinner inside a stone-walled dining room that used to be the armory. This four course dinner was the main reason my husband booked our one-night stay in this lovely castle – and it intrigued him because of two simple words:
We’ll get to that lovely addition to the menu in good time. Dinner began after an afternoon of heat with a chilled drink called hypocras.
Hypocras (aka: hippocras) is a medieval drink made of sweet wine – usually made from muscade grapes – infused with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and nutmeg. It is a wonderful amber, honey color with a degree of 16%. That makes it a little deceptive to drink simply because at first taste it is thick and sweet. Then the spices hits your pallet to create complex flavors that mix with the sweetness and stay in your mouth for some time afterward. While it can be easy to drink because of the sweetness, it’s the type of drink that you want to savor and sip slowly to taste all the different flavors.
It was such a good drink that we bought a bottle to take home. Back in the 12th century hypocras was considered both a tonic elixir and an aphrodisiac. I’ll let you know.
Inside the dining room we sat down to a very light amuse bouche: melon soup with a port jelly underneath. I guess that makes the meal five courses. It was served fresh and chilled. Very simple flavors really, just melon and and the port jelly underneath. The simplicity of the melon worked and the port jelly was both fun and original. Melon and port, of course are a classic pairing.
My entrée was a millefeuille de foie gras and apple with gingerbread ice cream, and a small green salad. Sounds really strange, right?
In France, gingerbread (aka: pain d’épice) and apple are both common parings with foie gras. While foie gras is eaten all year round, the gingerbread combination is very traditional to the Christmas and holiday season, which means “winter food.” I guess the ice cream was their summer twist on a winter classic.
The ice cream, though very good, creamy and smooth, was a little strange as an entrée because it was so sweet. I’ve had ice creams in original flavors served as something other than desserts before, but this was a bit different because it was a flavor that I would order as a dessert.
So while I can’t say anything bad about the taste, it was nonetheless a bit strange to have as a starter to my meal. I almost would have preferred thin slices of the gingerbread itself slid into my millefeuille.
Ah, the millefeuille: the foie gras was the kind cooked à poele, or in a frying pan, which usually creates a thicker taste and a meltier foie gras than the traditional paté. I don’t know how they did it, but this foie gras was actually light. It was warm, well flavored without being overpowering. The sour apples were thinly sliced and well cooked, soft and easy to slice and eat without losing crunch. I really loved the lightness of the meal. Foie gras can sometimes be heavy and almost overwhelming. But this was well proportioned and I was had the flavor of the foie gras without feeling like I needed to wait a while to clear my pallet or room in my stomach.
The presentation is lovely isn’t it? Very whimsical and summery and that followed throughout the meal. The green salad on the side was served in a crunchy – well – thing, reminiscent of the fried chips you see oriental salads served in, in the United States. This and the dressing, however had the flavor of curry however. I’m not sure if that is what they used, but that is what it reminded me of.
For an main plate, I ordered pintade, a small game bird that has a strong flavor close to turkey. It came with mushroom quinoa and tuille de Parmesan – a thin, baked parmesan cracker. The pintade was wonderfully moist, cooked in herbs of the region, fresh rosemary and thyme abounded and it was so flavorful that the bird almost didn’t need any sauces. Instead, I was given four.
I’m not even sure what they all were. One was a pesto sauce, there was a red berry sauce – very provençale – one was a creamy sauce with garlic and the last was a tangy sauce with what seemed to be infused with lemon and orange. My favorite sauce was the red berry, which I could have eaten alone. Honestly, having four different sauces was a little much because of how tasty the pintade, quinoa, and Parmesan were on their own. At the end of tasting all of them my pallet was a little exhausted and I couldn’t really figure out all the flavors in the cream sauce, which I guess was to go with the quinoa.
The quinoa with mushrooms was wonderful; light, buttery, creamy, soft. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Everything I love about a side. I also need to comment on the smell and presentation of the plate. Both, mine and my husbands were brought out at the same time with white, porcelain covers. There were two servers who lifted the covers at the same time – fancy fancy – and then the smell of the plate just wafted up to my nose and made my mouth water. It was an absolutely wonderful presentation with a great effect. I loved it.
My husband order the rack of lamb, which he loved. In fact he told me he just wanted to pick the lamb up by the bone and chow down medieval style, but he managed to restrain himself. This had a really beautiful presentation. Underneath the lamb is potatoes with ham wrapped around it, which he said were perfectly cooked, soft, buttery and flavorful. The orange purée in the bottom right is a carrot purée with orange infused flavor. I had some on my plate as well and it was a tangy, fresh side that was very fun and tasty.
To drink, we ordered a bottle of Domain Templer – red, 2003, Bandol, 14.5% – the husband picked this out. He’s been reading the latest Parker’s wine guide and recognized this as one of the good Bandol and was made with Grenache and Syrah grapes.
This was powerful wine with a heavy, oaky smell that had only a tiny hint of sweetness in it. A wine with a velvety texture and a smooth finish, that changed as it went through mouth and down the throat. It was fruity upon first taste and then grew spicier with bit of time and left a combination aftertaste that was very delicious. It got better as the night went on and the wine was exposed to some air. Overall a very good find.