Must Eat in the Loire Valley!
Visit France’s Loire Valley and you may feel as though you’ve stepped into a time-worn fairytale, complete with ancient storybook castles, quaint old villages and historic towns, breathtaking scenery, and picturesque architecture. The area’s beauty is arguably unmatched by any other destination in the country. It is a region rich with history and teeming with culture, from exquisite art to world-class shopping and fine dining. And with a delightfully pleasant climate and ideal terrain, it also presents enough outdoor adventure to satisfy even the most active traveler. But perhaps the most memorable thing about Loire is the delectable food that is prepared and served there. Here are 5 foods that top the “must-try” list.
This delectable treat comes in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, textures and flavors, however, goat cheese in particular is probably the most popular throughout the Loire region. The four most well-known kinds include Sainte Maure, which is long and cylindrical in shape, Pouligny-St-Pierre, which is shaped like a pyramid, Selles-sur-Cher, which is flat and round, and the small cylindrically shaped Crottin de Chavignol. Each has its own distinct taste and all can be paired perfectly with one of the many exquisite local wines of the region.
Meat lovers will not be disappointed during a stay in Loire, with mouthwatering game being a popular menu choice throughout the region. Enjoy a little bit of everything, from pheasant, duck, quail, and pigeon to rabbit, venison, and even wild boar or deer. The game in Loire is prepared and served in a variety of rich sauces that are typically derived from fresh mushrooms. And while those craving fish may have to look a little harder as it is rarely served in Loire, there is plenty of opportunity to feast on just about any other type of small game that can be found in the area.
This delicious dish is best described as meat prepared in a way that is similar to pâté. While it can be made with a variety of different meats, it’s typically prepared in Loire using pork. It is a dish that is traditional to the Tours area and is usually served at room temperature and enjoyed as a spread on sliced bread. Loire’s rillettes is known for its rich texture and bronze hue that are both achieved during the cooking process. For a delectable indulgence in French gourmet, a taste of rillettes is a must.
When it’s time for dessert, the French don’t disappoint. A sablé is a biscuit or delicate cookie that is typically flavored with lemon, almonds or orange zest. The treat originally hails from the Normandy region but has also become quite popular throughout Loire. In the French language, the word ‘sablé’ is translated as meaning ‘sand’, so the cookie’s name is meant to represent its crumbly texture. Served in a variety of delicious ways, sablés may be dipped in chocolate or two cookies can be sandwiched together with jam in the center. Whatever way you choose to devour them, you’re sure to be satisfied.
Another sinfully divine dessert found in the Loire region, Tarte Tatin is a sort of upside-down tart that contains fruit (typically apples) caramelized in sugar and butter prior to baking. Take one bite into one of these exquisite treats and you’ll be hard-pressed to believe that the concoction was actually created by accident by Stéphanie Tatin when she and her sister Caroline jointly owned the Hotel Tatin during the late 1800’s. The legend holds that a tired, overworked Stéphanie was preparing a traditional apple pie but accidently left the apples cooking in sugar and butter for too long. In an attempt to salvage the dessert, she placed the pastry atop the apples, flipped it and baked it in the oven. The rest is history and trust us – you’ll be secretly thanking Ms. Tatin with every savory bite!
The country of France certainly has its fair share of beautiful destinations to visit – places filled with history, charm, culture and excitement. The Loire Valley is no exception. Whether you’re planning a historical journey through friendly old towns, are eager to explore world-famous chateaux or want to enjoy an exhilarating tour of the breathtaking French countryside, you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more in Loire. But aside from the endless things to see and do there, perhaps the best way to truly experience Loire and all that it has to offer is by tasting some of the delicious cuisine found there. Once you do you’ll understand why this beloved region has become so near and dear to the hearts (and taste buds) of travelers the world over.