Food & drink

Fish, seafood and rus­tic pâtés are just some of the gas­tro­nomic de­lights on of­fer in the Loire Val­ley

Living France - - À LA MAISON -

Afer­tile land of vine­yards, fruit or­chards and lush pas­tures at the heart of which runs the mighty Loire, Pays de la Loire boasts gas­tron­omy that is rich in fresh whole­some pro­duce.

Fresh­wa­ter fish are a reg­u­lar fea­ture on the menu, and the fa­mous beurre blanc sauce that can be found as an ac­com­pa­ni­ment to fish in restau­rants all over France has its roots in the banks of the Loire.

Seafood is also a high­light of the food on of­fer here, as the west of the re­gion bor­ders the At­lantic Ocean: mus­sels are tra­di­tion­ally raised on posts in the Baie de l’Aigu­il­lon; dis­tinc­tively coloured ‘Vendée At­lantic’ oys­ters are har­vested in the Port du Bec and sar­dines and an­chovies are fished at St-GillesCroix-de-Vie and La Tur­balle.

The sea is the source of an­other of the re­gion’s fa­mous spe­cial­i­ties: fleur de sel, a fine or some­times coarse salt that is har­vested from the salt marshes of the west coast. It is some­times mixed with spices and is highly rated by chefs in France and be­yond. A lesser­known del­i­cacy is sal­icorne, a plant that grows in salt marshes, which can be eaten raw, pick­led or sautéed.

Pork in­spires one of the re­gion’s best­known spe­cial­i­ties: ril­lettes from Sarthe. This is a type of coarse pâté that is of­ten served on a slice of rus­tic bread. An­other re­gional favourite are ril­lauds d’An­jou, pieces of pork belly that are of­ten served with creamy, white beans known as mo­gettes de Vendée.

The free-range chick­ens from Chal­lans and Loué are known for their ten­der and de­li­cious meat, and Vendée is known for its de­lec­ta­ble ham.

For those with a sweet tooth, there is plenty of choice in­clud­ing the hard-boiled sweets, berlin­gots nan­tais, and quer­nons d’ar­doise, caramelised pra­lines with al­monds and hazel­nuts, coated with blue choco­late from An­jou. This part of France is also known for its bis­cuits in­clud­ing the short­breads from Retz and Sablé-sur-Sarthe and the fa­mous Pe­tit Beurre LU bis­cuit from Nantes.

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