Birthdays come and go; some you remember, some you don't, and there are some that stick out forever like a beacon.
My 45th birthday is one of those. It started on Friday evening, in great style. NG had organised dinner for me, my TWDB, C&A, and herself at the Hotel Verchant. My TWDB and I were to stay the night, as a gift from the hotel's directrice.
The hotel is such a friendly, cosy place, going there is not really like going to a hotel, but to a friend's house. Dinner was delicious. After champagne and nibbles, we sat down to a seafood bisque with fried spinach ravioli, then, to my delight, a main course of venison. I don't know the last time I had venison but it must be at least 30 years. I love the stuff - it's one of my favourite meats, but of course, not easy to get hold of, and pricey if you do! It was cooked to perfection, was lovely and tender and a real treat. I then had a cake with fizzing candles, made by the Pourcel brothers (or from the kitchen of, I suppose). It was fruity and yummy; not a sickly mousse in sight.
After dinner me mates had to drag themselves home while TWDB and I just had to totter up a spiral stone staircase and into a massive bedroom set in the stone 'dependences' of the manor house. King-sized bed, tip top quality trendy fittings, and a super shower. It's the first time I've stayed in such luxury, and I must say, it doesn't take long to get used to!
Breakfast was funny because I'm a bit of a stickler about how to make tea. Being British, an'all, I do like it made with boiling water, the tea already in the pot. In France, they are completely averse to making it like this, preferring to give you a pot of warmish water, the tea bag still in its little bag sitting coyly in a little bowl. When I tried to press home the importance of tea in pot first, I was told that for hygienic reasons, the staff didn't touch the tea bag. When you're going to frazzle the thing in 100°C water, I don't quite know what bugs they think could survive, and frankly, I'd rather have a decent pot of tea plus bugs than a pristine undrinkable pot of gnat's pee. The staff were so perplexed by my tea issue that they even called the directrice! I can only assume that I'm the first Brit who's passed that way and asked for a proper morning cuppa. They hadn't heard of English Breakfast either, just offering ever-lighter brews of the type Darjeeling, Ceylan, Earl Grey etc.
Still it was all lovely although I did wonder about the twisted nature of hotel designers who create beautiful bathroom/loos with trendy glass doors which fit so badly that the whole room can be entertained to the 'total loo experience'. Very intimidating it is.
We tore ourselves reluctantly away at noon, and went to have a light lunch because we were due for another culinary delight that evening - my actual birthday. My TWDB actually managed to book a table at the Jardin des Sens for that evening - something of a miracle, but he's that type of guy... so we were able to dress up again and head out for a second mega dinner in two days.
It's an amazing place, and if you ever get the chance to go there, jump at it. In some restaurants I taste the food and think to myself I could try to make it at home, but at the Jardin des Sens, it's all so exquisitely put together, with a myriad of tastes and senses that it's impossible to even guess at how it's done. We chose a menu 'des saveurs' which meant that we got several courses each based around a saveur - lobster, fish, duck. Each plate was a work of art, and we were speechless as the flavours revealed themselves as we ate. The service was superb - not overbearing or snooty, but efficient and friendly. The cheese trolley was of such quality it was hard not to run off with the whole thing, and the wine which was recommended (Mas Laval) was absolutely perfect.
I've never enjoyed such a luxurious decadent birthday, ever. It will go down in the annals of my history as the birthday that lasted two days, was marked by the kindness and generosity of my fab friends, and the knowledge that I do enjoy very much living it up in the lap of luxury.
Yep, I do!