It was a weekend gathering with friends to celebrate not only a milestone anniversary with my partner, James, but to also celebrate our recent engagement. The French call this a "Fête de Fiançailles." There were so many details to sort out, starting with the venue. We were lucky to discover Château Bosgouet in a spot nestled between the medieval city of Rouen and the Norman coast, a mere two-hour drive from Paris. Bosgouet is a Napolean grade château surrounded by groves of three-hundred year old linden trees.
Our chef Linda Granebring spent the entire morning puttering around in the château's lovely potager. Edible flowers and seasonal greens were selected in preparation for the spectacular dinner menu she created for the occasion. We discussed highlighting the concept of summer on a plate with vegetables in the starring role.
Meanwhile my Australian cake sister Jen and I were on baking duty in the kitchen making fresh passionfruit curd and heaps of Italian meringue buttercream. We wanted to make a simple yet elegant cake with three layers of vanilla sponge filled with passionfruit curd and raspberry jam. For decorations we discussed using wildflowers in a nod to the beautiful country setting.
The weekend wouldn't have been complete without a few small details meant to add a little glamour to the occasion. Iconic boxes of chocolates from one of my favorite houses in Paris, La Maison du Chocolat were placed throughout the château for guests to find, making for a very sweet surprise. Flowers by Estelle Preston spilled extravagantly out of various vessels throughout the rooms. Dahlias dangled next to giant garden roses in pastel hues mixed perfectly with branches of wild berries. It all came together for a wonderful weekend of summer magic, so stay tuned for the arrival of the guests in Part 2: The Party!
*Photography by the very talented Katie Mitchell