A bout with soufflé at La Maison des Bois

La Maison des Bois

It began with the alleged snubbing of a cheese soufflé and turned into one of the most vicious battles in French restaurant criticism.

The row between the celebrity French chef Marc Veyrat and the Michelin guide will go before a French court this Wednesday as the chef tries to force inspectors to hand over their confidential judging notes to explain why his restaurant in the French Alps was stripped of its coveted third star.

Row aside, Marc Veyrat is a master chef who has been awarded 20 out of 20 twice by Gault & Millau; he has drawn on his family history to create his culinary identity and has built La Maison des Bois using his forefathers’ cultural heritage.

This self-taught rustic chef has turned his unwavering respect for the land and rural living into something truly unique: opening up gourmet dining to the mineral qualities of nature and to healthy eating, putting the great outdoors on plates because, in the end, nature has everything we need. For this man who cooks from the heart, inspired by his memories, to be born somewhere is no coincidence: it’s an identity.

About the hotel & restaurant

La Maison des Bois sits in splendid solitude, offering far-reaching views of the neighbouring mountains in Manigod, Rhône-Alpes, France. Geneva Airport is just over an hour’s drive away across the border.

Five little wooden chalets and a tiny chapel cluster around the main hub of Maison des Bois, which is the restaurant and bar. This was originally the home of chef-patron Marc Veyrat’s grandfather, restored after a fire in 2015. With enormous attention to detail, down to the moss sandwiched between the planks of wood, Veyrat has recreated the home he remembers from his childhood but added a dash of serious luxury, without in anyway detracting from the authenticity of the building. Hay bales sit under the eaves, cows can be seen through glass panels in the floors, windows look into the hen coops. A huge fireplace takes centre stage, warming the pumpkin soup topped with a foam of Granny Smith apple, served before the dinner.

Food is the raison d’etre of Maison des Bois, which was awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide for 2018. Dinner is a serious 13-course feast featuring dishes such as asparagus with a béarnaise sauce of ferns, sea bass with white and dark chocolate and a wafer of cow parsley, or venison roasted with a purée of potatoes and black truffle. The cheese trolley groans with local delights such as the Vacherin Manigodine or Chevrotin, and the wines are matched with brilliance by the keen sommelier.

Arrive hungry, for although the dishes are light, there are a lot and every one should be savoured. Chef Marc Veyrat, complete with his black hat, wanders around the restaurant, occasionally popping woodland concoctions into your mouth and insisting you close your eyes to better sense the flavours.

Breakfast is another feast; packed into a hamper comes pain perdu (French toast), local ham, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and poached eggs with black truffle, homemade bread, homemade jam and fruit, plus Tomme cheese – courtesy of the hotel’s two cows.

Photos courtesy of La Maison des Bois

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