My lovely mother recently visited me here in Montpellier and we went to Chateau de Flaugergues; just a short bus ride out of the centre of Montpellier (or at least if would have been a short bus ride had we not overshot the stop by a long long way!)
Unfortunately, we were unable to look around the actual chateau as they only take groups of 15 or more and as it is no longer tourist season, they had very few visitors. However, we were able to take a wander around their gardens which were not what we had expected. The chateau is one of the last remaining in the area and a business district with metal hangers and offices has been built up around it. However, once you enter the gate of the chateau’s territory, it is like stepping into another world (à la Alice in Wonderland). One section of the garden is like a dense forest with golden autumn leaves covering the floor; another is a beautiful flower garden with tomatoes, gooseberries and raspberries growing in amongst the plants; and finally there is a section dedicated to bamboo with 15 different species (I thought bamboo was bamboo, but apparently not).
Beautiful, but deadly mushrooms growing in the grass.
‘Alice and Wonderland’ door into the gardens.
Following our garden walk, we had a private wine tasting session to try 4 of the wine’s made at the chateau. We bought a fruity red and their most popular white to enjoy over christmas. And now for the best part of the day: lunch! We ate at the chateau’s restaurant Folia. The restaurant had not been deserted for the winter as the chateau had and seemed to be a hot spot for business lunches. There was a great warm and lively atmosphere inside which was great as I don’t think the meal would have been as enjoyable if the restaurant had been quiet and empty.
You could tell that the food was going to be good as soon as you entered the restaurant. They had an open kitchen (which shows confidence as if you mess up, the world is watching) with 4 experienced male chefs (I say experienced rather than old :-)) and the menu was made according the what foods were available at the markets at the time. Its hard to go wrong with seasonal ingredients and inventive dishes.
For starter, me and mum both went for the parsnip and chestnut bisque after seeing it on the neighbouring diners’ table. It came topped with roasted chestnut pieces, croutons, crispy serrano ham, tarragon and truffle oil. I wanted to swim in this! It is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten ever! No seriously! I can’t even describe how amazing it was. I quite literally licked the plate clean – didn’t waste a drop!
For main, I went for the seared fish with sweet potato purée, spinach, leek and beetroot wholegrain mustard sauce. Mum chose the roast pork with celeriac purée, spinach and jus. They were both delicious.
And finally, dessert: a hazelnut sponge topped with orange slices, chestnut mousse and caramelised chestnut pieces. This was the least impressive of the three courses, but still very tasty. It was a lighter end to the meal that they obviously make up quickly in bulk and then whip out as a simple end to the meal. I think that a more elaborate dessert would have been too much after such a rich meal, so this was probably perfect.