A Culinary Pilgrimage & Oxford in Detail
Have you ever eaten a meal that left you with an intense craving? How about a craving so consuming, you would cross the ocean to satisfy it?
For me, restaurants that reach ‘crave’ status – restaurants that I’m thinking about days, months, and even years after a first visit – are well worth a culinary pilgrimage. Many come to mind in recent memory: the focaccia at Scarpetta in NYC, pasta with seafood on the shores of Sicily, and a cheese cart in the French Alps. This week over on Jauntsetter, I wrote about one of these experiences (tagged as ‘will travel for food’ – can I copy this phrase?!) in Oxford – Raymond Blanc’s award-winning Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.Head on over to read the full article, but here’s a sneak peak:
Le Manoir is a place for good company, for the slow passing of time, and for savoring flavors that excite our palates too infrequently.
Jauntsetter also discovered a great travel deal for Le Manoir. The ultimate experience is to stay in the manor for a couple of days, and see what Raymond Blanc whips up for breakfast and dinner too. Check out details on a discounted package here.
Not every visitor to Oxford will have the time or money to head out to Le Manoir, but luckily Raymond Blanc also has a brasserie right in Oxford that offers similar crave-worthy cuisine at reasonable prices. Along with Brasserie Blanc, there is also a bakery, home to the best almond croissant in all of Oxford. This is a great place to fuel up for breakfast before exploring Oxford on foot.It is impossible to feel guilty about a splurgy lunch at Le Manoir with all the walking there is to do in Oxford. When I studied here for a summer, I loved walking along the shade-covered paths surrounding Christ Church, seeing what was in bloom at the Botanical Gardens, and taking endless photographs of the Radcliffe Camera library. The University of Oxford was founded in the 12th century, and when you visit this city of spires an intellectual spirit is palpable as you walk through the streets.
Another place in Oxford foodies shouldn’t miss is the covered market. Many journalists recommend it as a place to kill time on a rainy day – but this isn’t giving the market justice. Besides the opportunity to see how local people shop, eat, and live – there are also many chances to nibble. Whether you love cheese, chocolate, or coffee you will be tempted by the offerings in the market. There are also several places to sit down for a meal. There’s no better way to people watch than with a fresh-baked baguette stuffed with brie and ham in front of you.If you plan on going punting (a punt is a long wooden boat that can be rented for a boat ride), the covered market is also ideal for picnic supplies. This classic Oxford activity is ideal in the sunshine, and don’t forget the Pimms to wash down your picnic.
Other than Le Manoir, another option for a great daytrip is Blenheim Palace. The birthplace of Winston Churchill is impressive on so many levels – from the rose garden to the library to the spectacular location in the countryside.
Oxford is easy to reach as well, with a bus direct from London’s Heathrow Airport, and because I’ve been asked so many times, yes, there is even a bathroom on board the plush buses.
For the beauty and ingenuity of the cuisine at Le Manoir, the almond croissants, and that British cheese I still can’t find at home – I’d be on a plane to Oxford in a New York minute.
Photo of Oxford covered market by Rattibo on Flickr.