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

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Lunch in Loches

The main ingredients for a successful vacation are: sunny but not too hot weather, interesting things to see, good company and excellent food and drink. When planning a trip I always take these items into account. This year I made a special effort, as I wanted my friends to fully enjoy their first visit to the region.

The food and drink part was one of my major concerns. I wanted it to be diversified, affordable and a representative culinary sample of what ‘La Touraine’ has to offer. Visiting markets and buying local produce, such as goat cheese and rillettes, was one way of filling in this requirement. The other was to find nice, typical restaurants that in one way or another made a change from the traditional tourist traps.

I think I scored very well with ‘L’Hélianthe’ in Turquant, and my friends had also thoroughly enjoyed their ‘workmen’s lunch’ with Susan and Simon at ‘Le Détour’ on Monday.

Terrace of 'La Gerbe d'Or' in Loches

On Wednesday, after visiting the donjon and Logis Royal in Loches, I took them to ‘La Gerbe d’Or’ (The Golden Bouquet) in the rue Balzac. We had booked a table on the terrace before visiting the castle, and upon our arrival at 1 p.m. were given a nice corner table in the shade. The day’s special at 10.50 euro, was a ‘terrine de boeuf’ (beef pâté), followed by chicken with sautéed mushrooms and potatoes. Dessert was fresh cream cheese with raspberry coulis. It normally came with one glass of red wine. B. was the only one to order the full menu. J.L. and I looked at the menu card and both settled for a main course only.

Beef terrine

I had a (too) generous portion of tagliatelli with fresh pesto and sun dried tomatoes, while J.L. had – at my recommendation – the Géline de Touraine with crayfish sauce, rösti potatoes and green asparagus. The Géline is an ancient chicken breed that used to very popular in the 18th and 19th century but almost became extinct in the beginning of the 20th. Half a century ago it was reintroduced in the Touraine, where it is now known as ‘La Dame Noire de Touraine’, a local delicacy.

Géline de Touraine

The sunny and warm weather was perfect to introduce my friends to a very rare and outstanding rosé wine: le Noble Joué. We ordered a bottle from the winery of the Rousseau brothers who live in Esvres-sur-Indre, south of Tours. In the past my friend and I have visited their winery on two occasions. B. and J.L. really liked it and even considered visiting the winery the next day.

Tagliatelli with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes

J.L. and I both had a ‘café gourmand’ for dessert. It’s a cup of very strong espresso coffee that comes with several small desserts. In this case it consisted of a pineapple crumble, a meringue, cream cheese with raspberry coulis and a ‘canelé bordelet’. The latter is small, dark brown and sticky round cake. As I don’t drink coffee, I gave my espresso to B.

Café Gourmand: I forgot to mention the strawberries!

It was an excellent lunch, in spite of the service being a bit slow and not very professional. The young waiter and waitress were clearly doing their best but lacked the necessary experience. There even was an odd incident with a couple at a nearby table, although we never got the real gist of it. They had come in at the same time as we had and were also given a table on the terrace. Almost immediately the lady had left to go and wash her hands. In the meantime the waiter had come over with the menu cards, which the man declined, saying that he would wait for his wife to return.

The waiter had then come to our table to take the order. By the time the woman had rejoined her husband, the waiter had disappeared into the kitchen. The couple sat around for a little longer. Suddenly they both got up, looking slightly annoyed, and hurriedly left the terrace.

At first we thought that they were tired of waiting for the waiter to return. On second thought this was probably a case of ‘sanitary emergency’ … If they really had had the intention to have lunch there, the husband could very easily have accepted the menu cards when the waiter had presented them to him the first time. Your guess is as good as mine!



chm said...

I guess you're right about the 'emergency'. Why refuse the menu if you intend to have lunch there? If he wants to be polite, he can wait for his wife's return to open it!

Carolyn said...

Okay, Martine, this restaurant is going into our encyclopedia.

Word verification is pasta!

ladybird said...

Chm, That's what we thought too.

Carolyn, I'm sure you will enjoy it. Make sure to book a table or to arrive early if you want to eat on the terrace!

Jean said...

Experience makes all the difference. What we do in restaurants is now based on what is likely to happen next and how to make the best of it. You often have to be very patient. It looks like a good place to eat and we will give it a try.

And I must remember that trick Martine - order the café gourmand and give the coffee away but enjoy the puds ! Bravo !!

ladybird said...

Jean, Before ordering the café gourmand, make sure to have someone in your party who doesn't like desserts but can't go without a strong espresso! :)