Great beauty is to be found in the gardens of Le Manoir during these winter months. I enjoy a stroll across the lawn, and this morning it was a white carpet of frosted grass that crunched with each step I took. At times in recent weeks the ponds have been mirrors of ice. I wander the path, past the bamboo and the trees of plum and almond. As I did so today, my mind took me back to Kyoto, where I visited the Golden Pavilion Temple. That is when I dreamt of creating a Japanese teahouse at Le Manoir. That dream, that trip to Japan, was thirty years ago… And then I reach the end of the path and there it is, the Japanese teahouse that I dreamt of. The epitome of purity, this little house that is made of English oak has provided the setting for many marriage proposals.
Our potager – a glorious ‘veg patch’ – is like an ode to winter, with neatly lined rows of vegetables; kale, Brussels sprouts, Cavolo Nero… Soon they will make their way to our kitchen, and then to the table. I smile always at the sight of the celeriac as they sit on the soil like a regiment of fat, green-topped centurions. ‘But Raymond!’ I hear you say, ‘Celeriac is not beautiful. It is knobbly and ugly.’ Do not judge a book by its cover and don’t dismiss a vegetable because of its appearance. As a child I would eat it raw and sometimes my mum would make sauerkraut, replacing the traditional cabbage with celeriac. Here, you will find a recipe for celeriac puree, and – for the ultimate celeriac experience – my recipe entitled ‘a celebration of celeriac’. Or quite simply grate celeriac and brush it with hazelnut or walnut oil and enjoy. You will not be disappointed!
I wish you a very Happy New Year.
These chilly months bring comfort food cravings which can be satisfied by the deeply moreish dishes in my Winter section. I am thinking especially of onion soup which, as a teenager, I would make for my friends, as well as coq au vin and wholesome, creamy fish pie. Perhaps you’d prefer Steak Maman Blanc, a fool-proof recipe. If you are searching for dessert inspiration, may I suggest reverse chocolate crumble, or poached winter fruits in spiced wine. Bread and butter pudding is also popular, as is riz au lait (yes, rice pudding), one of my childhood favourites. For those special occasions, you might wish to see my recipes for roasted pineapple or the iced coffee parfait or the reverse chocolate crumble.
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