Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Luncheon is served!

We don’t always have a picnic lunch when we’re visiting central France, simply because the weather doesn’t permit it, or on the day of our arrival for instance. Getting the picnic hamper out of the tightly packed boot/trunk of the car can be a bit of a hassle.

Last year, upon our arrival in Amboise, we went to a restaurant called ‘Les remparts’. It has two small dining rooms with wooden beam ceilings. At the back there is a cute courtyard that holds no more than 6 or 7 tables. Several pots and hanging baskets offer a colourful display of flowers. In a sunny corner a midget banana tree is successfully attempting to survive outside its usual habitat.

The menu offers a fine selection of Touraine classics, such a ‘La Beuchelle Tourangelle’ and ‘Suprème de Géline de Touraine aux morilles’.

If you’re into meat offal preparations, go for the ‘Beuchelle’. It’s a fricassee of veal sweetbread and kidney in a cream sauce, flavoured with cognac. I know, meat offal is an acquired taste. Either you like it, either you hate it. My friend just loves it!

Last year, I played it safe and had a juicy steak with herb butter. You can’t go wrong with that. This year, however, I think I will have the ‘Géline’, breast of chicken, stuffed with mushrooms. The cherry on the cake will certainly be the cheese platter, which is served after the main course and before or instead of dessert.

It goes without saying that when you’re in the Loire Valley you drink Loire Valley wine. Our favourite is Saumur Champigny, a light and affordable red wine that goes well with fish, meat and poultry. Always ask the waiter to chill it for you before serving it. This might sound a bit unusual, but it brings out the wine’s fruity flavour.

How do you feel about offal dishes?


Jean said...

There are offal dishes and other offal dishes. Some are very scary and others are extremely scary indeed. I avoid them. We have a french food and wine dictionary which is very helpful (although sadly now out of print) but even that has let us down occasionally - vis a vis the "sheep cooked in its own stomach" incident a few years ago - the dictionary translated it as young lobster so we were very disappointed !! Knowing exactly what is going to be on your plate is the key, I believe.
Saumur Champigny is one of our favourtite wines.

ladybird said...

Jean, I wonder at which point in the translation process the 'sheep' became a 'lobster':))! Could it be that 'haggis' was mistaken for 'homard'?

Jean said...

This happened in Gigondas and the "plat du jour" was described, if I remember correctly, as "pacquets", which our food dictionary said was "young lobster" (or possibly "female lobster"). It turned out to be a local speciality - minced mutton cooked in tripe parcels, served in a "piquante" sauce. It was horrible. Worse still, we were so excited about the prospect of the lobster that we had forgotten to enquire what the "entree du jour" was. This was huge whelks served in the same piquante sauce. They had barnacles on the shells and very thick chewy feet. Nick ate some of his but I just turned mine over so it looked as though I had. We enjoyed the cheese course though !!

Ken Broadhurst said...

I remember ordering Andouillettes in Aix-en-Provence when I was twenty years old. I thought the word looked and sounded nice. Little did I suspect it was made with pork chitterlings (intestines). I've never been able to develop a taste for Andouillettes since then. They say it should taste like what you think it might taste like, and it does.