à Brantôme...Mignonne x LUSH-Getaways
Mignonne owner, Johnelle Mancha and team stylists ventured to the quaint and beautiful Brantome, France to host an intimate group of guests on a culinary tour of Southwest France. Johnelle & her mother Kim, owner of Mignonne's sister-shop Les Bohemians, teamed up in 2016 to found LUSH-Getaways. Together they are now offering annual curated trips to the Dordogne region of France.
Kim Mancha is the local mastermind behind the intimate and unique curation of experiences on this tour. She has lived in Brantome for over ten years, cultivating genuine relationships with fellow townspeople and building an ideal routine within this beautiful European culture we all aspire to be a part of. Over the past ten years, Johnelle has continued to harvest a creative community in the Bay which has lent itself to the group of talented makers joining LUSH for the past two years and for future years to come. This year, she brings innovative forces together to furnish, lead and inspire a group of guests on their tour through the Dordogne this year...
Arriving to Brantome was dreamy amidst the misty fog and peaceful streets. A river running through the village provides an ethereal energy and whisks you away as you retreat to a simpler time. The 17th-century manor sits just outside the shopping and dining cobblestone streets of Brantome and the guests were welcomed into a thoughtfully styled and curated space to call home for the next week.
Each room contained such unique details and vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces. Guests were shown to their chambers and settled in with lovely welcome baskets before heading downstairs for a thoughtful and delicious introductory apero by Chef Justin Wright and cocktails by our founder's husband and LUSH bartender extraordinaire, Brian Hill.
Our own Bay Area based chef, Justin Wright, started the group off with beautiful cured local trout and cucumber roses with fromage blanc and dill. His second creation was a local cured duck, foie gras toast with fresh wild strawberry, cress and raspberry reduction...just the beginning of a stand-out culinary journey alongside Manhattan's Camaje Chef-Owner, Abigail Hitchcock.
LUSH founders, makers and guests alike exchange initial bises and embark on what's about to be an irreplaceable week of sharing in experiences throughout the beautiful Dordogne region.
Starting the journey off right with a delicious aperol spritz in the garden, poolside set the scene for what was about to be an unforgettable excursion for the heart, soul and palate.
Chef Abigail Hitchcock, Executive Chef and Owner of Manhattan's Camaje, prepared a beautiful inaugural dinner of local rabbit, mushrooms, tomato tart, courgette with ratatouille and fresh berry tartlet...divine. She introduces each course with smooth articulation and genuine passion for the craft.
Locally-foraged french lavender and thistle pod adorned each place setting alongside an assortment of vintage crystal wine glasses and antique linens.
Rise and shine...and yes, it wasn't all a dream, you waking in an ancient manor to a thoughtful breakfast before exploring the village you call home for a week is the reality...enjoy.
A classic french omelette perfectly prepared by Chef Justin was followed by a morning cooking demo to illustrate the precision and helpful insight into replicating one at home!
Emmie delivered flawlessly and after digesting and learning a useful skill from one of our chefs, guests retreated to the bright library to partake in a yoga class offered by instructor and LUSH body-worker, Janet DeHart.
After preparing for the day's explorative itinerary, guests followed founders, Johnelle and Kim Mancha on a walking tour of Brantome.
Johnelle Mancha, LUSH founder and owner of Mignonne Decor...à Brantome maintenant.
Guests strolling through the beautiful streets of the wonder that is Brantome...
Contemplating the afternoon to come...canoeing and dining in a nearby village.
The adventurous canoers were dropped off with founders and makers to rent boats and begin the four-hour excursion to lovely Bourdeilles for local barbecue and live music.
Partnered and geared up, the brave and bold group sets off to explore the medieval wonders along the Dordogne River...
This day was not short of laughter, adventure and lasting memories.
Chef Abigail and husband Jason setting off!
Founder Johnelle and husband Brian!
Arriving in beautiful Bourdeilles just in time for sunset and neighborhood strolls...
After a long and venturesome canoe journey, the group sits back to relax outside a local Bourdeilles family-owned bar for wine and an unforgettable long-standing tradition of communal barbecue and live music.
Father and son owners dish out grilled meats for locals and visitors alike.
LUSH guests and makers dine into the wee hours as the magic and mystique of Bourdeilles whisks us all away... After a day and evening of pure local richness, the LUSH family transports back to our temporary home at the Brantome manor.
Sunny mornings at the manor, strolling downstairs to Chef Justin's buckwheat crepes with fresh raspberries, local walnut, peach compote, fromage blanc, honey and mint.
Satiating the palate before getting ready for an afternoon market tour with local chef-owner and artist Christophe Dupuy. Not to mention, a note-worthy coursed lunch at his Michelin recognized, Les Jardins de Brantome.
LUSH chefs, Abigail Hitchcock and Justin Wright get the lowdown on the best seasonal goods to be creating with this week while introducing the guests to local farmers and vendors.
This cross-section of cured black ham conveys just one of the many regional specialities known in Brantome and more generally, the Dordogne. The guests are immersed fully in the culture and food of this magnificent southwest french region.
The founders and chefs gather for a local journalist who shows interest in the regional tour and purpose behind the creation of such a unique and thoughtful culinary curation.
Local wild petit strawberries and a collection of speciality wines entice founder, Johnelle Mancha and fellow LUSH guests.
Chef Christophe is not only a talented creator and our local Brantome LUSH maker but he also tends to be a bit of a comedian...and we love it.
After the market and village tour, Chef Christophe takes us up the cobblestone street to his delightfully charming and impressive hotel and restaurant. Our first stop, his beautiful and useful herb garden...where everything is edible.
Chef Christophe shares his favorites and which dishes he prefers to use which herb or edible flowers in...we all take a look through his explorative and innovative eyes.
Thoughtfully, we head into Chef Christophe's kitchen with our fresh-picked herbs to learn about his process for preparing a delicious cucumber salad with mushroom, pancetta and borage.
After finishing touches, we head to the garden to receive stellar service and impeccable food and wine from Chef Christophe and his darling wife and co-collaborator.
LUSH guests soak up the splendor of this magnificent french lunch.
After rest and rejuvenation, we join Chef Justin for a cooking class and he and our everything-man, Brian host another delightful apero in the garden with bites and a freshly curated cocktail.
Chef Justin teaches guests how to make delicious Gougeres, a true french crowd-pleasing "cheese puff", not to mention a regional dish!
After a lovely demo, guests get to taste the creation while enjoying refreshments in the garden.
Founder, Johnelle Mancha and her talented builder/craftsman, bartender à Brantome and husband Brian enjoy the beautiful manor surroundings as they mingle and entertain with guests.
The following morning was greeted with a knock-out curated breakfast prepared by Chef Abigail. She presented a slow-cooked oeuf tomates with croissant. Bon appetit!
The day began early as we jetted off to the bustling yet charming city of Perigueux and then, to an impressive and secretive flea market in the middle of the Dordogne countryside.
LUSH founder and Mignonne's owner, Johnelle Mancha, showed guests the many treasures and skillful hunting necessary for french flea scouting success!
And now, to make room in our suitcases for the many new frenchie additions...
Guests returned to the manor for an informative cooking class with Chef Abigail in preparing the evening's apero! She orchestrates a natural and approachable lesson for at-home hors d'oeuvres that leave an impression!
Meanwhile, founder Johnelle and team stylists design the garden and dining room for a one-of-a-kind collaborative dinner with Chef Abigail, Chef Justin and Chef Christophe!
Drinks are served...
Johnelle and Brian catch a romantic moment poolside.
Some of the deliciously prepared bites by our guests during their cooking class with Chef Abigiail!
Guests await what is about to be one of the most memorable, coursed meals during this year's culinary journey...
Chef Abigail, Chef Justin and Chef Christophe introduce the layout of this evening's special dinner and illustrate how the creative collaboration came together so seamlessly. These three curated a week full of culinary bliss and magic on our palates. Guests were blown away and so were we!
Bean salad to start with radish, tomatoes, seeds and fresh herbs.
Risotto with local mushroom, parmesan and parsley. Classic, delicious.
Chef Justin plates the main course...
The beauty of local duck, braised cabbage and a delightfully prepared jus de Chef Christophe.
Apricot tart with fresh cream and rosemary...c'est fini.
Once sleeping off the meal of a lifetime, Chef Justin presents a curated breakfast of griddled tomato, fried egg, fresh cheese on local levain bread.
LUSH guests and makers gather after breakfast to embark on a day-trip to Chateau Monbazillac, a tasting at a local Bergerac family-owned vineyard and a remarkable evening in the idyllic town of Issigeac.
Learning and tasting at Vignobles des Verdots was a delight. Afterwards, we walked the vines and absorbed the wine history of the Dordogne.
After wine-tasting, evening strolls and shopping in Issigeac was ideal...
The architecture, history and culture of this village stood out amongst the rest and the group felt such fortune in being able to share in an incredibly local tradition with the community of Issigeac.
Choosing from an array of local food vendors, we settle on moules frites and sausages with ratatouille... Not to mention, we notice all of the locals strolling down from their quaint and surreal homes with their plates and wine glasses in hand.
Guests move and shake to the live music in the town square, dwarfed majestically by the medieval cathedral looming overhead.
Feeling full in heart, soul and bellies, lushies stroll back to be transported back to their awaiting french chambers in the Brantome manor...
Chef Justin prepares a true french toast with fresh fruit, honey and mint to greet the final day as guests head out on a relaxed tour of the local market with Chef Abigail.
Friday markets in Brantome hold the most vendors; food, souvenirs and clothing alike. French locals from surrounding villages come out to support the community. Chef Abigail is a return maker for LUSH and uses her expertise in showing guests around the eclectic local fair. Through tasting and interacting with vendors, she has a genuine way of connecting with people.
Locally cured sausages.
LUSH founders, Johnelle and Kim Mancha, show off the whimsical Mignonne sister shop, Les Bohemians. Our rockstar mother daughter duo own the unique decor and design showrooms from California to France.
Johnelle and Kim head back to the manor to help prepare for the final evening of festivities and deliciousness...
Chef Abigail begins teaching a final class to eager guests. This special class turned into a beautiful collaboration of all attendees in creating a dish for the finale meal. Above, Chef Abigail shaves stunning local leeks, scouted at the market earlier this day.
Chef Abigail uses her many years of experience in creating and owning a successful restaurant to present cooking with natural ease and true approachability. Guests hone in on their knife skills while sipping on sparkling and sharing a few laughs.
Chef Justin debones local trout, found at today's market, to prepare for the meal ahead...
Guests show off new french threads and loosen up with a final apero accompanied by a talented group of local musicians to cap off an unforgettable and intimate tour of this beautiful region.
Grilled fresh sardines and negronis pair nicely with the live music and final celebration of such a breathtaking week!
The LUSH group, guests and makers alike, share in the overwhelming gratitude towards Johnelle and Kim in their creation of such a one-of-a-kind excursion.
Without Johnelle's ability to foster community through culinary passion and design and Kim's ignition of life in a foreign place with her way of assimilating and building solid relationships, this tour would not be a reality for so many!
After such an unforgettable week-long journey, we sit back and take in the splendor that was Southwest France...
Thank you for reading!