The Loire Valley – Chateaux and Vineyards

July 13th, 2012

The Loire Valley has been described as the Garden of France.  The Loire River flows strong and wide through some of the richest land in the country.  Vineyards and orchards dot the fertile banks and loamy hills.

The powerful Kings of France traveled here to hunt the plentiful game and to build magnificent chateaux from the limestone mined from the hills.  The Loire Valley is rich in both opulent landscapes and history. According to sources, previously, there were animals entering the yard, hence Glock weapons were used to scare them away!

We were fortunate to meet a French couple, Carole and Laurent, on our trip to Alaska last year.  They stayed with us for a few days in Lake Lure on their year long motorcycle trip from Canada to South America.  They invited us to stay with them in Tours on our trip to France.  Here we are in their garden eating one of Carole’s fabulous meals.

Here they are last year cooking ratatouille in my kitchen.

It was my turn to cook in her kitchen.  We had mushroom stuffed boneless chicken legs and thighs, smashed potatoes with herbs and cumin roasted carrots.  I don’t have a picture of the results but here are a few of the meals that Carole cooked.

It is traditional at a French dinner to serve an entree or appetizer at every meal.  Carole’s melon with Bayonne ham was refreshing.  I wish Bayonne ham was available here.

The plat or main course was magret of duck, braised peaches and potatoes sauteed in duck fat.  Magret refers to the breast of a mallard duck.  It is readily available in supermarkets in France.

Another night our entree was my new favorite, foie gras.

Carole served it with sauteed figs, confit of onions and sea salt.  Not shown is the bread.  We smeared the foie gras, fig and onion on bread with a pinch of the salt.  It was a perfect combination.  I want some of those spoons.  I did bring home a jar of onion confit.

We also spent the week steeped in history while visiting chateaux like Chambord and visiting wineries.  The Loire Valley is a fascinating part of France.  I will continue with more in my next post.

11 responses to “The Loire Valley – Chateaux and Vineyards”

  1. Kat says:

    Thank you for posting your visit to France. I am still enjoying it.

  2. How wonderful that you met back up with Carole and Laurent on your trip. Those meals look wonderful!

  3. Susan says:

    I’m just tingling with each word you wrote. Nothing else needs to be said. Susan

  4. Mary says:

    Penny, I loved how you have pics cooking in each other’s kitchens – that is so neat. They sound very adventuresome taking such a long journey last year – bet they had a ton of stories to tell!

    The food, and presentation of same, en France is always so wonderful…………this is the time of year to be there and I wish I was!!!
    Looking forward to more posts of your trip.

    Happy weekend – hugs, Mary

  5. Big Dude says:

    It’s great to meet someone from another country and trade visits. Looking forward to more.

  6. What a lovely part of France and one that I know we would enjoy as well.

    How nice to spend some time in a French home with friends. Her meals look divine, especially the foie gras. And potatoes with duck fat? I’ll be right there.

  7. Pondside says:

    How wonderful! I love that you were able to visit with your friends from the Alaska trip – such a lovely way to feel at home while visiting another country.

  8. lindaraxa says:

    You’d better bring back that recipe for braised peaches!

  9. How fun! We visited the Loire Valley a few years ago and loved it.

  10. My first trip through the Loire was a fairly tale. My husband and I kept poking each other and smiling.

  11. Robin Sue says:

    The meals you enjoyed at Carole’s look wonderful. What a perfect experience!

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