Category Archives: Food and Wine

5 Family Friendly Restaurants

Children are welcome in French restaurants but not all children enjoy French food. Here are 5 restaurants which cater well for families with a mixture of French and other cuisines.

1    Crêperie Saint Pierre La Quichenotte

La Quichenotte is tucked away a short way down a passageway by the church in Place St. Pierre in Saumur. A cosy family run restaurant with lovely food (including galettes or a 3 course lunch ,’menu de jour’. It is excellent value. Welcoming staff and English spoken. Galettes, a savoury pancake with a choice of fillings, and crepes with chocolate sauce and ice-cream should keep any youngster happy. Recommended for a stress-free family meal with children or a great refuge after too much shopping!

2 Rue Haute Saint-Pierre, 49400 Saumur

2    Le Panorama

Le Panorama has a magnificent view of the Chateau of Saumur and the River Loire. There is  a large outdoor terrace and indoor seating. The view from the terrace is truly panoramic. It is a good place for either a drink (hot or cold) or a meal.  Friendly owners and a menu in French, delightfully translated into English too. The menu is comprehensive and serving times not restricted to French eating times.  Handy to know if you are with children.

P1010067

Le Panorama, Parking Du Château Rue Des Moulins, 49400 Saumur

3    Les Farmers

A very innovative place to eat, ingredients sourced locally as the name implies, and there is a bar.  Run by a  young and lively crew with various entertainment events throughout the season, with some new events planned for the 2017 season. The situation is great for families as it looks over the lake at Hommes. There are five lakes, fishing, swimming in one lake, picnic areas and woodland walks.

Les Farmers is a ‘ginguette’ which is a traditional French concept of somewhere to eat and enjoy music, often by a lake or river.

This short video gives a good idea of what it is all about!

Open seasonally, so check first on their Facebook page.

4    Caves des Marson

Something a bit different. Eat like a trogolodyte in a cave! Fouées, similar to pitta bread, are cooked in a traditional bread oven and served with a variety of fillings, beans, garlic butter, rillette, cheese and Nutella.  At Les Mortiers, we make them in our bread oven  as a change from pizzas. They were originally testers to see if the oven was hot enough to bake bread. There is more on fouées (also know as fouaces) here –  Wikipedia on fouées

Website Caves de Marson

1 rue Henri Fricotelle 49400 ROU MARSON

5    Cafe Le Musée

The  café/bar in Parcay Les Pins serves a very good ‘plat du jour’, as well as snacks and will appeal to children too. The pizza van is there once a week, buy a pizza and the friendly café owners will provide you with cutlery, seating and the change to buy liquid refreshments of all types. There is also a van serving fish and chips once a week, which is particularly loved by the french residents of our village.

Facebook page

2 Bis Place Jules Desbois, 49390 Parçay-les-Pins

Family friendly restaurants recommended by guests at Frenchholiday

2cv-and-chicken

www.frenchholiday.co.uk

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5 Favourite Restaurants

Five restaurants where the atmosphere is good, the dishes are pleasing to the eye and you can relax  to enjoy your meal easily.. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced and fresh and with a good selection of local wines.

There is no order of preference.  Enjoy!

1.   Vincent Cuisiniere de Campagne

19 Rue de la Galottière, 37140 Ingrandes-de-Touraine

Link to Website

2.    L’Orée du Bois – Le Breille Les Pins

2 Rue Saumuroise, 49390 La Breille-les-Pins

Link to Website

3.    Au Chapeau Rouge – Chinon

49 Place du Général de Gaulle, 37500 Chinon

Link to Website

4.    Les Entrepotes – Chinon

88 Quai Jeanne d’Arc, 37500 Chinon

Website – not known

5.    Le Bouff’tard

4 place 8 mai 1945 37340 Hommes

Website – not known

 

Cointreau or Combier – or both!

combier

Sun-dried orange peels from the West Indies, local spices from the south of France, alcohol from France’s northwest, and secret ingredients from the Loire Valley – a formula that became the world’s first triple sec. It sounds wonderful. It happened in Saumur and was the inspiration of Jean-Baptiste Combier after countless years experimentation to make the perfect recipe.

Combier orange liqueur was first available in 1834 in Saumur. Cointreau followed 41 years after in nearby Angers. Both Combier at Saumur and Cointreau, near Angers, are situated on the River Loire which was used for a main river for transporting goods, such oranges from the West Indies upwards from the coast and then onward by canal to Paris.

Combier is still in the same premises where Jean-Baptiste Combier and his brother opened a confectionery shop in Rue Saint Nicolas, Saumur,  in 1834. In back of his shop, he developed alcohols and liquors with his still to fill its sweets and chocolates and created the famous “Triple Sec” liqueur.

His dream of inventing something new and original was a great success and was only followed later by Cointreau. It is worth a visit to see the beautiful copper stills, sample some of the huge range of liqueurs made there and come away with a selection of your favourites. Visit Combier

Cut and paste the link below to see a  video about Combier (in French)  with some great photography showing some of their other syrups and liquers too and also what goes in to making their products.

http://tv.bpifrance.fr/Combier-createur-de-saveurs-depuis-1834_v3041.html

To end,  just for fun, here are a few recipes (not cocktails) using Triple Sec, but visit and you will come away with more than Triple Sec.

Margarita Cake

Over the Top French toast made with Triple Sec

Two simple ideas – add Cassis liqueur to home-made ice cream for something quite special or a dash of Combier Fruits of the Forest liqueur makes a fresh fruit salad into something special.

The difference between the two could be the subject of great debate, but far better to spend the time sampling them both with friends. The link below gives a comparison of both drinks.

cocktails

Comparison between Combier and Cointreau for Margaritas and Cocktails

Graded grains make finer flour – Le Moulin Boutard, Bourgueil

I was kicking myself as I typed the title for this post!  We could never fathom the French system to classify flour and know which one to use and yet the famous catch phrase for a well known UK flour held the answer.

Graded grains make finer flour!

A few years ago  we  met Madame and Monsieur Piaumier, owners of the Moulin Boutard, at a Craft Fair in the grounds of the Chateau at Giseux. Monsieur Piaumier explained the finer the flour the ‘whiter’ it is, the higher the category the nearer it is to the wholemeal flour which we were looking for.

So the flour we use now ranges from Type 55 for making croissants, Type 65 for pizza dough, through to Type 170 for rustic wholemeal bread. We also get rye flour, spelt and a speciality mix of chestnut flour, fig and hazel nut for cookies.

This website gives some good descriptions of the different types.

The Flour Bin – Home and Artisan Bakers Supplies

Through the generations

In the nineteenth century, there were no less than 22 water mills on the River Changeon., but they closed one after the other when industrialised production of flour and bakery goods started to arrive.

The Moulin Boutard was a true water mill until 1956, when it too was mechanised to keep pace with the demands of the market. It is the only mill still operating in the Bourgueil area.

The mill is owned by the Piaumier family, a family with a traditions of seven generations of millers. The family member who will make it the eight generation is currently working in a mill near Tours.

A Short History 

The changes at the Moulin Boutard over the years demonstrate how life changed so much more quickly from the 19th century onwards compared with when it was built by the monks of Bourgueil in the XII century.

1850 – The mill was extended

1928 – Mr. Albert Piaumier became as tenant operator of the mill

1930 – A diesel engine was installed and it is still in operation today,

1957 – The production rate is increased by the modernisation of equipment and it is then possible to mill 300 kg of wheat per hour instead of 100 kg.

1963 – Cleaning equipment and storage is installed.

1966 – A bulk tank is installed for receipt of wheat. This is the first mill equipped with this system in Indre-et-Loire. Also machinery installed for the manufacture of animal feed.

1974, – The son of Albert Piaumier, Paul, bought the Moulin Boutard from Madame Garnier Moreau.

I983 – A major change in the milling equipment increasing throughput up to 10 quintals (ie 100 kg) per hour.

1998 – Moulin Boutard gets organic certification

Graded grains make finer flour

Graded grains make finer flour

Ets Piaumier et Fils, Moulin Boutard, 37140 Bourgueil

 

Let’s have a cake, we’re on holiday!


I have a weakness of cakes, once likened to have a mouth like a CD drawer which accepts pain au raisin with ease!  I love to try local cakes. It tells me about the local produce and often includes learning a little more about the region.  But that’s an excuse, a piece of local patisserie is my treat, it lifts my spirits, gives me a sense of being spoiled.

So here are five cakes from our autumn trip.

So I started with a ‘Pastis de Quercy’

Something like filo pastry, with either apple or prunes, honey and pastis.  This one I bought at the market of Praysac, held on a Friday.  I ate it at the view point of Ballaye, overlooking stunning views of the River Lot.  We met a group of local walkers there who said we must go to Montcuq market on a Sunday  (one to save for next time)

Recipe

Next came the ‘Tarte de Lascaux’

A confection of walnut in a pastry case.  I have since seen Huw Fearnley Whittingstall make something similar on his River Cottage programme..  This came from Montignac, only a stone’s throw from the famous caves of Lascaux.  It is here especially for Karen McKenry Heller to see as my last FB post from Montignac was just the empty paper bag!

Recipe

And then a ‘Kugelhof’

In Sarlat Le Caneda I was tempted by the kugelhof, more typical of the Alsace regions, but would include raisins or fruit. This one was made with Beurre de Charente AOC and melted in the mouth.  Similar to a brioche, but lighter and far superior.

Recipe

Followed by ‘Travers au Chocolat’

This one was bought in Sarlat from the gorgeous cafe/chocolatier Lemoine. A confection of walnut and dark chocolate.  There is also one with hazelnut and milk chocolate.

The window is a feast of macarons, Le canelé  and nougat.

A beautiful shop and cafe.

And finally a ‘Lascaux’

A creation of a boulanger near Lascaux, which was a soft textured meringue tasting of almonds and filled with cream.

This boulanger still makes bread on a wood fire and we asked if there was a French loaf which would actually keep for a few days! We bought this tourte  – and it kept too!

A cautionary note:

I lost a filling at the end of the holiday – too many cakes?

Chambre d’hôtes – we love you!

I love being in the country, I miss the fresh air when I am in a town or a built up area, I love the sound of nature and I love to see the open sky, morning light and the evening sunsets.

I find most hotels are often bland, you know the room layout will nearly always be the same and it could be gaspingly hot and dry at night. The hotel staff welcome you on arrival, but the next morning there is a different person there.

There’s lots of chambre d’hôtes in beautiful parts of the country, yet I was a little apprehensive about booking a chambre d’hôte, not quite knowing what it would be like.

Two recent journeys have convinced me that chambres d’hôtes are a better choice. The internet has made life so easy and changed things dramatically, even the smallest chambre d’hôte has a website which gives you an instant feel for the place and makes contacting the owner so easy. Whilst travelling recently, we searched the internet the night before departure and quickly arranged accommodation for the following night.

If you want to learn about the locality of where you are staying, what better than asking a local and that is the opportunity you get with a chambre d’hôte. Real live information rather than a brochure from a stand in the hotel.

We are novices as far as chambre d’hôtes go, but here are two we have enjoyed and a third which I visited last week – a new friend from Facebook just a few kilometres from our home.

Normandy – Basse Copette

Tucked away in a pretty valley in Normandy, yet convenient for our trips back to the UK and Northern Europe. Basse Copette is situated a comfortable distance from the autoroute, easy to find and a calm situation. A warm, relaxed welcome, excellent food and a host with a wealth of knowledge about the area and farther afield too.  Thomas provides a superb breakfast, a perfect start to a day at Giverny to visit Monet’s Garden or a day trip to Paris. We love it here.

Jura – Saint Ligier, Baums Les Bains

We took a detour recently on our way back from Germany to see the River Doubs, famed for its fly-fishing and for us a ‘must do’ as we make fly fishing lines in pure silk.  The scenery was stunning, sparkling streams, green valleys and high mountains. We stayed in Baumes Les Bains at the Ferme Auberge St. Ligier. We ate on the terrace in the evening looking across at the mountains and down to the town below us. We started with an aperitif and warm choux filled with Cantal cheese, then we worked our way through terrine de lapin, veau, rosti et champignons, local Cantal cheese and a delicious hazlenut gateau. There was a good list of local wines too. The milk from the farm went to the local co-operative to make the cheese we ate, the eggs and meat came from the farm too.


Pays de la Loire – L’Epronnière

Sometimes you do not realised how good things are close to home, in fact only 10 minutes away.  I went to meet the delightful Joëlle Dachelet who found me on Facebook. Joëlle and Patrice run L’Epronnière which is situated on the banks of Lac Rillé. Their property is tucked away in a protected zone for ornithology and offers amazing views over the lake. They even have built a bird hide high up in the trees on the edge of the lake which you can use. If you love nature and country life, this is a wonderful place to stay.

You may know of other little gems? I’ve already thought of several more I would like to visit.

Please post your link so others can find them too.

Say Cheese for Valentine’s Day.

Two beautiful heart shaped Neufchatel cheeses found their way to Les Mortiers recently.  A kind gift from an equally kind person who lives in Normandy.

Our first encounter with this soft cheese from Normandy was while staying at Basse Copette. Two heart shaped cheeses grilled and served on a bed of salad.   Simple, beautiful presentation and a perfect start to a meal in Normandy.

Neufchatel is a cheese loved by the English.  My reference for French cheeses – Les 100 Meilleurs Fromages de France – claims that the English gained a taste for it during the 100 Years War, where they had the time to taste and enjoy it!  There is a legend from the same war that young French ladies gave Coeur de Neufchâtel to their suitors.  It is not clear whether the two stories are connected!

AOC Neufchâtel cheese is made from cow’s milk in the town of Neufchâtel in the Pays de Bray region of northern Normandy. It dates back to 1035, making it one of the oldest cheeses in this region and gained AOC status in 11 January 1977.

It can be eaten young or left to mature like a Camembert, so it develops the typical crust and soft cream inside. For me a mature Neufchatel beats a Camembert hands down.

It is a cheese worth trying and, if you arrive in France at one of the northern ports, then perhaps think of the area of Bray in Normandy for your first stop overnight. You will not be disappointed. Our cheese came from Sarl Eric Alleaume, 65, rue des Macmonts, 76 270 Nesle Hodeng.

For detailed Historical notes on Neufchatel (in French).

Basse Copette For Luxury Chambre d’Hote and Gites in Normandy.

For a cbeesey card and also some great photographic cards for Valentine’s Day.