Cuisine 101: Loire Valley Cuisine

Eat & Drink | France | By Olivier Maillard

At The Slow Road we believe that getting in deep and up close has as much to do with a region’s culinary culture as it does with its geography and people. After all, you can’t really call yourself a cultural adventurer if you don’t embrace the local food and drink—to partake of the freshest, most delicious local fare is to become one with where you are. In this latest edition of our Cuisine 101 series, we delve into “the garden of France” and take a look at Loire Valley cuisine.

Specialties of Loire Valley Cuisine

Loire Valley RestaurantsFouace/Fouée
Long a staple of Loire Valley cuisine, you won’t find this traditional bread in boulangeries any more, but you may taste it in one of the regional restaurants. One version is plain and baked in a wood-fired oven, while the other looks and tastes more like a brioche. These are often served with rillettes as an appetizer.

A shredded, textured pâté. You’ll mainly find pork rillettes, but also salmon or duck. You’ll be able to buy this in charcuteries for picnics.

Loire Valley cuisine has included freshwater fish caught locally since pre-Roman times. The dishes are often accompanied by a sauce that brings through the delicate flavour of the fish, such as beurre blanc, a butter sauce flavoured with shallots and vinegar. A few types of fish you’ll probably see on the menu include sandre (pike perch or zander), alose (shad), anguilles (eel, often stewed in red wine for Matelote d’Anguilles) brochet (pike) and brème: (bream).

Loire Valley Cheese

Fossils found in the area reveal that goats lived in the Loire long before men, so it should come as no surprise that goat’s cheese is a staple of Loire Valley cuisine. A few of the area’s best include:

Selles sur Cher, Loire Valley Cuisine

This round cheese, dusted with ashes, is well known for its blue (sometimes dark) colour.

Crottin de Chavignol
A small disc of mild goat’s cheese that becomes a Crottin when older and drier. Younger Crottins may be creamy enough to spread or to heat and serve on a bed of salad greens, while older ones can be grated. This cheese was originally conceived to accompany Sancerre wine from the Loire Valley.

This creamy, ivory-white cheese of cylindrical shape and coated with bluish ashes brought fame—and AOC status—to the small town that produced it.

Pyramide de Valençay
This pyramid-shaped goat’s cheese, dusted with ashes and therefore called cendré, boasts a Label régional, a guarantee of authenticity not as strictly defined or regulated as AOC.

Still hungry?

For another example of Loire Valley cuisine, be sure to try our recipe for Tarte Tatin, a traditional Loire dessert.