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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Taste of Travel: The beauty of Mirbeau

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  • Like a mad scientist, Executive Chef Stephen Coe and his team gather in the kitchen tailored for immaculate presentations of molecular gastronomy. Plates are served with the utmost flavor-forward and creative recipes in mind to guests who dine in the spectacularly designed restaurant, Henri-Marie, inside the newly built French manor in The Pinehills development of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Mirbeau Resort & Spa.
    The spa culture’s bar has just been lifted with the opening of the 14,000 square-foot Spa Mirbeau, with a replica of Plymouth Rock inside the oversized transition room. Surrounding the rock is a pool of water that awaits complimentary foot soaks before a treatment. Upon entering, the sensation of royalty and calmness surrounds. Each treatment room has a gas fireplace for ambiance, but the heat is an option. There is no choice but to surrender to the capable hands of your massage therapist.
    Architecturally, Mirbeau Inn is fashioned after a French Manor, with interior design of French country and toile-patterned drapes and bedding. The guest rooms have claw foot tubs, as well as walkouts to verandas overlooking the gardens. Every inch of Mirbeau’s grounds was built with the intention to be viewed. Just outside of Mirbeau is The Pinehills golf course and walking paths, so there’s activity for everyone. But if you want to stay inside, the state-of-the-art fitness room and exercise room welcomes you.
    The exquisiteness of Mirbeau Inn & Spa astounds me, and I feel the Francophile in me churning as I roam from the Bistro to Henri-Marie to be seated for a movie-themed seven-course dinner. As it turns out, it’s a bit more than seven courses, beginning with an amuse bouche of one French macaroon that isn’t just a macaroon. This small, buttery yellow treat is packed with molecular gastronomical genius. The instruction is to let it sit on your tongue, hitting your palate for a while before slowly breaking it up. The sensation is that you’ve just eaten a large handful of buttered popcorn, and now you’re ready for the movie, thanks to Pastry Chef Patrick Ford. Before your first course is served, however, you’ll receive a petit popover with honeycomb butter made by bees owned by the chef. The stage is set, and the experience is culinary theater.
    The first course is “Forrest Gump” peas and carrots, to which I eat some of the molecular-structured carrots, but hand over the pod of peas to my husband, since some things never change from my childhood dislikes. Next is “James and the Giant Peach” of scallop ceviche pieces in a peach consume with panna cotta made so perfectly I find myself slowing down to enjoy each smooth scoop. And then, “American Pie” deconstructed with cheddar ice cream of the slightest cheese flavor, a scoop of green apple pie filling and a dehydrated slab of speck prosciutto in a presentation worthy of being served to royalty. And it’s delicious.
    Page 2 of 2 - The next film, er … course is “A Fish Called Wanda” of seared tuna, edible sand, avocado mousse, tobiko (fish roe) with black vinaigrette. It took a while for us to figure out the little black balls were squid in tapioca. The next course proved the most filling: “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” of local spaghetti squash under a large, dense meatball soaking in tomato broth and topped with Parmesan foam. But the next plate was a show all on its own. “Pineapple Express” was served by Coe and Ford so they could have fun lifting off the lid to a smoky welcome pineapple intermezzo. And finally, “I Am The Cheese” was a showcase of Chef Coe’s (who also had a stint at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry) honey and seasonal house made jams with cheeses, and the final plate of Augustus Gloop (“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”) is a menagerie of truffle, nibs, chocolate milk and more decadence.
    Breakfast overlooking the gardens next morning keeps the French theme going with duck confit and sweet potato hash served on a crispy local egg, and croque Madame with a cup of cappuccino.
    So, although I know I’m at Plymouth, there is no indication that I’m dining like a pilgrim, except that I am eating from local sources. And the mad scientists/molecular gastronomers shake up a menu like no other.
    ——
    Charlene Peters is editor special features at GateHouse Media New England. She can be reached by email: charlenepeters@comcast.net.
    Mirbeau’s Famous Crepe
    1 cup organic flour
    2 local eggs
    1/2 cup organic milk
    1/2 cup water
    1/4 tsp. salt
    2 tbsp. organic butter, melted
    1/4 tsp. organic sugar
    Whisk together flour and eggs Add milk, water, sugar, salt and butter. Beat until smooth!
    Serves 4

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