I have a confession to make. At the risk of sounding boring, many of my most memorable meals involve…chicken. But wait! I promise I have an adventurous palate! If you’ve experienced the phenomenon of roasted chicken in France then you might understand my infatuation. There’s just something so simple and soul-satisfying about this humble bird when roasted perfectly. The simplest things like this always seem to leave the most lasting impression on me.
A Beautiful Bird
The site of my second most memorable chicken (behind this one!) was at the Château de Bagnols. The word idyllic can’t begin to describe this jaw-dropping castle nestled within the French countryside. Rolling gardens filled with lavender and grapevine transport you to another day and age while a dug mote reminds you of the Chateau’s rich history. Begun in 1217, the history of Château de Bagnols spans ages of French civilization. As traced through the lives of its Noble families, the breadth of this history is overwhelming.
Château de Bagnols
Let’s backtrack to the chicken. During our first stay in the Château de Bagnols, Michael and I enjoyed a rotisserie chicken so divine we thought we’d never leave. Way back then (15 years ago), a much younger and thinner version of Micheal and myself had just overindulged in three 3-star restaurants back-to-back. Our veins coursing with cream, butter and foie gras, we decided a simple chicken dinner at our hotel was just what we needed. What the chef prepared for us that night blew those fancy 3-star meals out of the water.
The Secret is…Chicken
The gorgeous roasted bird came surrounded by baby vegetables and new potatoes—just what I’d serve at home. What I would not be able to replicate at home, however, was the chicken itself—a Bresse chicken. These chickens originated in France and are prized for their deep, almost gamey flavor and tender meat. Not surprisingly, few of these chickens are exported from France as the domestic demand is so high! Sliced table side and proudly presented, I could eat this same dinner for the rest of my life.
Flash forward to our latest visit. Naturally, I returned to Chateau de Bagnols craving that same rustic dinner. However, when Michael returned from the restaurant after inquiring about it, my heart broke. It had to be reserved weeks in advance! No!
Assured that we’d enjoy something just as delicious no matter what, I went down from our room to meet the chef and to explore. As I peeked into the restaurant’s kitchen, I spotted it—a lone chicken on the rotisserie. Crazy with envy, I asked for whom the chicken was being prepared (those lucky folks!). The chef grinned and confessed: Michael had in fact ordered the chicken to surprise me. The bird was all mine!
Whether it was due to the surprise or the many years that had passed, our rotisserie chicken was almost better the second time around. As we sipped a local wine –produced in that very region– I knew there could be no better way to take in our setting than with this blissfully perfect meal.
After all this, I’m sure you have a fierce craving for roasted chicken. Have no fear, I have an incredible recipe for Roasted Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffing! Check out the video below for tonight’s dinner recipe!