Regional Products: Taste the Difference!
In the Pays de la Loire, the Nantes Valley early vegetables, in particular mâche, mean quality epicurean fare. In Challans or in Loué, free-range, grain-fed chickens make for remarkably tender and delicious meat. In Sarthe, the local favorite rillettes is eaten on a slice of rustic bread. And in Vendée, the ham, however prepared, will surpass all your expectations.
Little Gems for Foodies
If you’re a sucker for sweet pastries, don’t miss the candy shops while in the Pays de la Loire. Berlingots nantais, quernons d'ardoise in Anjou, the brioches of Vendée, the shortbreads in Retz or from Sablé-sur-Sarthe...these delicacies spell happiness for the gourmet. Before leaving make sure to detour through Nantes for a taste of the original Petit Beurre LU, truly a cookie like no other.
Alcohol and Spirits – Secrets of the Alambic Pot Stills
Cointreau, the popular orange liqueur, has been distilled in Angers since 1849. Guignolet, a cherry liqueur, is also made in Anjou. The distilleries offer tours, and tastings are of course on the program. In Saumur, discover the Combier distillery, the oldest of the Loire Valley. In Vendée, Kamok, a coffee liqueur, and poiré, a pear drink made in Mayenne, are also spirits traditionally found in the Pays de la Loire.
Delights from the Sea – The Ocean on a Platter
Mussels traditionally raised on posts in the Bay of Aguillon, distinctively colored Vendée Atlantic oysters found in the port at Bec, anchovies and sardines from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and La Turballe, shrimp and clams fished from the seashore: in the Pays de la Loire, your seafood platter will not want for fantasies!
Just a Pinch of the Sea – Salt, to Taste
You can buy fleur de sel, a fine or even coarse salt, in sachets of all sizes and sometimes mixed with various spices. Don’t forget salicorne, a plant that comes from salt marshes, preserved in vinegar. The sea is rich in iodized minerals. Guardians of the salt marshes of Guérande and Noirmoutier, paludiers will give you recipe ideas that will change the way you think about seasoning.
Loire Specialties – Products that have Conquered the French Table
Have you ever tried a beurre blanc, that sauce that goes so spectacularly well with fish? Be it from Nantes or Anger, beurre blanc was born on the banks of the Loire. If you prefer meat, let yourself be tempted by muscatel sausages or rillauds d'Anjou, served – why not? – with the white beans known as mogettes de Vendée. And as for cheese, Curé Nantais or Port-Salut? The gourmet in you won’t be able to resist pâté aux prunes in Angers!
The best-known specialties of the region are beurre blanc, rillettes du Mans, rillons, diableries, Loué poultry, muscatel sausages, rillauds d'Anjou, mogettes de Vendée, tourangelle soup.
Desserts here are also delicious: macaroons, jams, dries apples and pears, shortbreads.
Cheeses to savor here are Curé Nantais, Port Salut, Vieux Pané.
Wines and Spirits
Regional wines are:
- from Anjou and Saumur (28 appellations)
- from Touraine
- from Vendée (Muscadet, Coteaux d'Ancins, Gros Plant)
The most common spirits are Cointreau, Kamok, Jasnière, and cider.
In Touraine, the varietal used in white wine is jasnières, and in red wine the varietals used are Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Aunis.
Shortbread recipe for 10 pieces
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- ½ cup (60 g) softened butter in small pieces
- ½ cup (60 g) sugar
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup (150 g) flour
- vanilla (liquid extract or in a sachet)
Even an infant could make this recipe: mix the flour with the sugar in a bowl, add the egg, then the butter.
- Knead well.
- Add the vanilla (or whatever other flavoring you wish).
- If the dough sticks to your fingers too much, add a bit more flour.
- Form the dough into large balls and place them on a buttered baking sheet.
- Cook in a 350°F (170°C) oven for 15 minutes.
- Hot or cold, these shortbreads are a real delight to the palate.