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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Edouard Loubert's Restaurant at Bastide du Capelongue

Three fantastic three star Michelin meals in three days, how wonderful is that and all for a deal on Luxury Link. I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven, but we've done this several times over and so it must be real! Everything is exquisite - starting with the table settings. Technically our demi-pension  menu is three courses but we started each evening with multiple hors d'oeurves served on the terrace, see one of the dishes above in the early evening light. After we moved to the table in the main dining room we were presented with   two entrees (one sent as a gift from the kitchen), a Provencal pause (a clear bouillon to cleanse the palate) a main course, a pre-dessert sent from the kitchen (generally a dessert and a small creme brulee), the dessert and petit fours. Without doubt it is a feast and food as theatre.
Bastide de Capelongue is one of my favorite places and aesthetically it appeals to all of my senses; the food, the ambiance, the flavour, frangrances and textures. This is a place where everything has been though through and yet it's not fussy or formal. Here the food is seasonal but only because Chef Loubert wouldn't accept anything but the best, you'd know that from hearing him bellowing at the staff!
I'm not sure these photographs convey the sheer luxury of the food, the relaxed service, the ambience and the sensual delight of eating here. Everything is the very best that the season can offer, a reflection of the terroir and the craft of the chef. The asparagus below was extraordinary.
I'm not a great fan of  escargot  but this dish of  snails (below) served in a citrus foam was fresh soft and astonishing, it bore nothing in common with the garlicky overkill of most bistro snail dishes, a transcendent preparation. Note the small bouquet of flowering herbs decorating the plate.

The fragrant morel dish below (stuffed with a subtle mousse) was equally memorable, unfortunately the picture doesn't do it justice. I didn't want to use a flash for fear of looking horribly gauche and disturbing other diners.
The main courses were often fairly simple with a pared down perfection. He's known for his lamb cooked in the cocotte with wild thyme below. They bring the heavy cast iron cocotte to the table before they cut the rack of lamb, just so that you can smell the thyme. It's fabulous, I love the drama of food at this level!
The  pre-dessert below was served with a jasmine creme brulee. It was one of the most unusual dishes we had, a green wheat soup where the fresh grassy flavor was balanced by the white chocolate sphere filled with mousse. This was an interesting transition between savory and sweet.

One evening they sent out the wrong dessert and so we had three dessert courses including the truffle dessert below. The rich earthy truffle flavour was an astonishing combination with the chocolate. I wish the photograph could convey the complimentary aromas and the textures.
Strawberries were also in season and I loved the way they were served along with the flower.
Loubert loves to bring in the flavors of the land and one of his signature dishes is this cedar souffle, beautifully served in a copper saucepan.
A selection of petit fours and a macaron with flowers found on our pillow at night, unfortunately at this stage I couldn't eat one more thing and all I could do was admire its perfection.

Comments said…
So fabulous! We want to stay here! Is four nights enough?