Food of the Loire Valley

You like the Loire Valley and you like food, so here is a review of some of the flavors of the Loire Valley. Free-range chickens, poulet fermier Loue, are raised in the Sarthe, Touraine and Orléanais, and Challans duck in the Vendée. Anjou and Mayenne are home to grass-fed cattle, and the Berry to hardy Berrichon sheep. The sandy forests and lakes of the Sologne are the domain of deer, Wild boar, pheasant, partridge, hare and duck. The main charcuterie is rillettes, shredded and potted slow-cooked pork, a speciality of the Sarthe (rillettes du Mans) and Tours (usually With pork liver as well). Rillons are large, crunchy chunks of fried salted belly pork. The Vendée produces excellent cured ham. Look out for terrines in the Sologne, game pie in Chartres, and pâté Berrichon, baked in pastry with hard-boiled eggs. The ports of the Loire-Atlantique and Vendée produce a variety of fish and shellfish. La Turballe near La Baule is the main sardine port on the Atlantic coast. The Ile de Noirmoutier is known for line-caught fish, lobster and oysters, as well as farmed turbot. But best of all is the region’s freshwater fish, including pike, pike-perch, shad, tench, salmon, eels and lampreys.

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Thanks to the mild climate, winter vegetables thrive in the Nantes area. Virtually all of France’s lamb’s lettuce (mâche) is grown here, as well as watercress, peas, radishes, turnips, early leeks and carrots. Samphire is gathered from the salt marshes near Nantes, and the Ile de Noirmoutier is known for its new potatoes. The Sologne produces some of France’s best asparagus and lentils are grown in the Berry. The Beauce, around Chartres, is known as “the bread basket of France” for its prairie-like expanses of wheat. Orchards north of Tours and in the Sarthe are important for apples and pears; Comice pears originated near Angers. Other fruit includes plums of the Touraine and strawberries from around Saumur. Two of France’s largest biscuit companies are based in Nantes: LU, maker of Petit-Beurre and Petits Ecoliers, and BN, creator of the smiley-faced BN biscuit. A speciality of Sablé-sur-Sarthe is the petit sablé, a thin shortbread. The pithiviers of the Sologne is made with flaky pastry and almond paste. Around Saumur look out for fouaces, small, flat rolls filled with goats” cheese or meat.

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There is no better way to discover the richness and the culture of food than with groups, and for this, you would need to get in touch with a Loire Valley event agency – follow the link to get one – who would plan your entire trip.