|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter PAGE THREE|
and France's Loire Valley
by Corina Clemence
Everyone knows French cuisine is one of the best in the world, if not the best. With more than 365 cheeses, thousands of different wine producers, foie gras, seafood, fish and good meat, and of course specialties like snails, frogs' legs, bouillabaisse, pot au feu, and boeuf bourguignon, France is a paradise for those who like quality and innovative cuisine.
The Loire Valley, known as 'the Garden of France', is a fertile place where a rich farmland is spread out on both sides of the Loire river. The region became the favorite residence of French Kings from the middle ages to the Renaissance. Little by little, strongholds had become magnificent castles of the Renaissance, having been restored during the 17th and 18th centuries. These castles tell about the suprising history of the great kingdom of France and display the charm of its fabulous past. The Castles still stand in all their glory representing the majesty and grandeur of the architecture of that period.
Each aspect of a French specialty has a root, origin, tradition, and cult attached to it by the French. This is because of the sheer diversity of excellent products and related recipes available all over France. The French have an amazing affinity for the land. It is part of their identity.
Classic French cuisine is very much on the menu in most restaurants in the Loire Valley. The French table is a deity - a great social organizer and leisure activity. If French gastronomy has such prestige, it is because the French spend their time on it.
Meat specialties of the Loire Valley include pork rillettes (a coarse pate), not to be confused with another very tasty, more local tradition, rillons (big chunks of pork cooked in pork fat). With so many forests in the Loire Valley, the region's restaurants are strong on game. Autumn is the season not just for wild game, notably venison and wild boar, but also wild mushrooms.
Freshwater river and lake fish take pride of place in dishes. Vegetables thrive in the sandy soils around the Loire River. Local asparagus is delicious in spring, and most vegetables have a long season. Goat cheese is a particular specialty of the region.
Tarte Tatin, upside-down apple tart, is a classic of the Loire Valley region. The area is rich in excellent apples and pears, tasty strawberries and melons. The French have a sweet tooth, and they love rich, creamy, chocolate patisseries and they insist on quality. Blois is exceptional in this regard.
The tourist route around the vineyards of the Loire valley leads foodies and wine lovers from cellars to vineyards, offering wine-related discoveries punctuated by visits to imposing castles, abbeys, cave dwellings and gardens along the Loire, now classed as part of the world heritage of mankind by UNESCO. Because, French gastronomy is a veritable paradise you should try it at least once in a lifetime.
is the châtelaine of Chateau du Guerinet near Blois
Copyright Corina Clemence, Château du Guerinet. All rights reserved.]
SPONSORING THIS ISSUE
Sign up today for the Harvest Wine Tour in Bordeaux
and wine experts at Château Coulon Laurensac are eager
to include you among their guests for the
will learn about wine and wine tasting in the world's most famous wine
region. A group of ten people maximum ensures
Planning ahead? Ask about the 2009 wine tour schedule, too!
The Brame in Sologne
brame » is a magical moment in forests all over the world
The french word « brame » is not easily translated; the dictionary says, « howl, wail, or bell ». I would say « bellowing ». Whatever the translation, « brame » is so much more poetic than « rutting season », so I prefer to use it.
The « brame » encompasses far more than just the physical mating of deer. It is also the bellowing of a stag to win the right to mate. It is the sight, sound and smell of the forest at this special time of year. It encourages sitting by the fireside, collecting and cooking mushrooms, and drinking hot wine. It is, without exception, my favorite season of the year. Only nature knows the exact time of the brame, but it is usually mid-September to mid-October.
Celebrate and experience the brame in the heart of a typical Solognot village, Ligny le Ribault, known the world over for the brame. Auberge Saint Jacques, a B&B located in the village, offers a special brame weekend package beginning with guests arriving Friday evening to a roaring fire and a French country game dinner. Depending upon what is available, we might serve roasted boar, pheasant pot pie or a hare stew. (We can also provide vegetarian cuisine.) The bellowing can be heard from each guest room if the window is left open, or guests can sit in the garden where they will be surrounded by the plaintive cries of the stags.
After breakfast Saturday guests are free to visit the area, and we would be happy to help with plans for day trips. Later on Saturday afternoon, everyone will rendezvous at the « Maison du Cerf » five minutes away . This is a delightful museum devoted to the stag and has a boutique selling local products such as rillettes and honey.
A guide then leads the group into the forest where, hopefully, all can enjoy the sights and sounds of the stags. An actual sighting cannot be guaranteed, unfortunately, as we are not in charge, but nature is!
Even in the event of a « no show », what is guaranteed is the magical moment in the forest. The sights and sounds of a Solognot forest are unforgettable. After the guided tour, it is back to the museum to enjoy a buffet and compare experiences. This is a truly unforgettable evening.
After breakfast on Sunday, you are once again free to visit the area or just curl up in front of the fire before departing.
So, if this autumn adventure appeals to you, contact me at Auberge Saint Jacques for details, prices and to answer your questions. This two day package can be arranged for other days, with the exception of Monday. We hope to see you in the Sologne!
Auberge Saint Jacques, 15 pl de l'Eglise, 45240 Ligny le Ribault
of Kristi Anderson. All rights reserved.]