Loire Valley

Loire Valley

By
Luke Nguyen
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742707181
Photographer
Alan Benson

No trip to France is complete without taking in the Loire valley, my next port of call. Oozing with rural tranquillity, complete with fairytale buildings and manicured vineyards, this region couldn’t be more different to the rugged Atlantic coast.

I’m drifting up the Loire River with Bruno, one of the last guys in France who still builds the traditional wooden flat-bottomed barge of the region, called a fûtreau.

His boat has a cute little kitchen below deck, and I’m making a Vietnamese spice paste to marinate the humungous eel Bruno just caught in one of his traps — he’s a famous eeler in these parts. Outside, the spectacular Loire landscape with its fabled castles and genteel gardens slips by. I have to pinch myself, as it’s all so gorgeous, and being on this boat is such a wonderfully special experience. Particularly when Bruno, who comes from three generations of fishermen, tells me he’s never eaten eel like mine, simmered in coconut milk, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger and palm sugar. I’ve brought Vietnam to the Loire!

Later, back on land, I meet vigneron Sébastien du Petit Thouars, whose family have owned their imposing château, stuffed full of family treasures and superb objets d’art, since 1632. Yet in contrast to all the grandeur that surrounds him, Sébastien is really down to earth. We cook rabbit together, following an old family recipe, in his wine cellar, sampling reds straight from their maturing barrels. Rustic, simple and honest, it’s my favourite kind of food.

Wine glasses still in hand, he takes me to another building outside, in which a group of men are singing old mariners’ songs and someone is playing the accordion. In a corner, stoking a wood-fired oven raging at 350˚C, Guy the baker is making everyone fouée, a local speciality of crisp, puffy discs of bread that we eat hot, slathered with rillettes and goat’s cheese.

Wine, music, simple tasty food and good cheer: this is how they roll in the Loire, and I’m loving it. It’s magical.

I’ve hung out with some real characters in this idyllic piece of France, but all too soon my adventures here, and in the whole country, have to come to an end.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again