Myriam is a wine and food enthusiast and she wants the wine tastings she organises to be super savory and tasty. That's why they always associate wine and food, mostly made from local products. Because she thinks that a good bottle of wine is always better enjoyed when tasted with quality food. And because she is eager to have visitors discover the great diversity of local delicacies produced in the Touraine region and in the Loire Valley.
During your stay in this region, you will inevitably be able to taste and enjoy the delicious gourmet treats produced in the area. Here are a few specialties you will be able to try while taking part in one of the wine tours and/or wine tastings organised by Myriam.
Rillons are one of the most famous specialties in Tours and in the Touraine region. They consist in pieces of pork belly that are seasoned and cooked before they are stewed in pork fat for about two hours. Not very healthy, some will say! But rillons are so good when the tender pork meat melts in your mouth, leaving a smoky aftertaste once they have been swallowed. Note that rillons is always used in the plural, even though you may eat only one piece of meat!
They can be sliced and fried for just a minute in a pan, then served on lettuce with toast and goat cheese melted in the oven - the best option being the local goat cheese called Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine.
You'll find them in any good local charcuterie, in regular size or small size, in which case they are called rillons cocktail and can be served warm or cold, at aperitif time. To try with a sparkling or dry Vouvray or Montlouis-sur-Loire or a light Loire red wine.
A famous recipe since the 15th century, the rillettes de Tours have been classified as IGP (Geographically Protected Indication) since 2013 - which is not the case of their neighbours, the rillettes made in Le Mans, yet generally better-known by the consumers as they can be found in any French supermarket.
Rillettes are made with pork meat cooked in a cauldron, in pork fat, between 6 and 12 hours. The meat can be flavoured with wine or wine spirit.
The rillettes de Tours (a name always used in the plural, like the other famous local specialty, rillons - see description above) are a pork spread characterised by clearly visible pork meat fibers as well as by pieces of pork meat. They are not as fat as the rillettes produced in Le Mans.
Rillettes are eaten on a slice of bread (or can be used to prepare a sandwich) and served with a Loire Valley dry or semi-dry white wine made with Chenin Blanc (Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire...) or a Loire light red wine such as Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Chinon, Anjou rouge, Touraine...
Take some rillettes de Tours, spread them on a pie shell (short pastry), put on top some thin slices or dices of rillons de Touraine then some beaten eggs, cream or milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the top is golden.
It's rich, but how delicious! To be eaten cold in summer for a picnic in the vineyard, or warm in winter and to enhance the creaminess in your mouth.
Here is a local address to try it: Charcuterie Jean-Jacques Bergère in Vernou-sur-Brenne (37), near Vouvray.
Here they are, the stars of the Loire Valley! Indeed, we should talk about goat cheeses, in the plural. There are so many of them! Will you be able to recognise them?
From left to right: crottin de Chavignolles (produced in the Sancerre region), Pouligny Saint Pierre, Valençay, Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, Selles-sur-Cher. All AOC cheeses! In case you don't know what AOC means, book a wine tour with Myriam, she'll give you loads of explanations about French AOCs.
These cheeses are the most famous ones but the Loire Valley teems with farm cheeses, that are unique because made by small local producers. You will be able to buy them on local markets or by visiting directly the goat farms.
Which Loire Valley wines should you taste with the goat cheeses produced in the area? A white wine made with Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine-Chenonceaux, Touraine-Oisly, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy...) ou Chenin blanc (Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Anjou blanc, Saumur blanc).
A few very simple ingredients make this light and delicious local dessert: a thin layer of caramelized puff pastry, some apple slices and on top of that, a spoonful of local red wine jelly (in general Chinon or Bourgueil wine, as the original recipe comes from that area).
To be paired with a semi-dry sparkling rosé, a semi-dry still rosé such as Cabernet d'Anjou or Rosé d'Anjou, and why not try a light red wine with it!
Two bakeries where you can buy this 'tarte du vigneron' : boulangerie Riveiro in Vouvray et boulangerie Guérin in Nazelles-Négron (near Amboise).
Once you'll have tried it, you'll want more, for sure!