Monday, 18 February 2013

A la Foire au safran

Saturday was Preuilly's annual saffron fair, and this year I thought it went off particularly well. The day was cold and foggy, but not raining (hurrah!) There was an excellent range of artisanal gourmet produce for sale -- chocolate, spices of all sorts, cold pressed oils, syrups, rillettes, rare breed chickens, pure pork saucisson, foie gras, cheese, soaps and skin care potions, baskets made from local materials, turned wooden objects, jewellry, wrought iron, nougat and pain d'épices. Above all there was saffron, as strands, in cakes, flavouring oil, served in little verres de dégustation in both sweet and savoury versions as you came in the door.

Wrought iron objects by Preuilly based prize winning blacksmith Thierry Grall from la Forge du Serrurier. In the background you can see the handrail terminals he has designed for the new Tours trams.

We tasted duck foie gras, chicken rillettes, young, aged and blue ewes' milk cheese, saucisson, pumpkin puree seasoned with saffron and piment d'espelette and saffron flavoured citrus jelly -- all delicious. In the end we bought a Géline de Touraine (rare breed chicken) for €13.30, some saucisson and some young ewes' milk cheese (€27.50). We also bought 24 vanilla pods for €20 from Dany Blot, the same spice stall as last year. These are such good quality and such good value. You can place orders by phone 06 85 90 86 59 or email. I didn't buy any saffron, as I already have a good supply at home (and I rarely use it as Simon doesn't like it).

Farmhouse saucisson made with pure pork leg meat and some seasoning and a young tomme style brebis (ewe) cheese from the same farm. We are delighted that our friends Tim and Pauline recommended this producer, who is regularly at the markets in Descartes and la Roche Posay, but who we have never tried before.

A Géline de Touraine, a local breed of chicken that has had a revival since local restaurateurs like Jacky Dallais have taken an interest in them. The one we got came from Frédéric Guillemain, les Augeries, Betz-le-Chateau. This nice young man raises Gélines de Touraine and Charolais cattle and sells both direct to the public (email or telephone 02 47 59 62 19 to order). The chicken has the head still attached to prove that it is what it purports, and we buy a Géline from time to time as a treat.

A good crowd in the Preuilly Gymnasium, checking out the delicious offerings on all the stalls.
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Loire Valley Nature Update: a new entry for Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara added.

9 comments:

  1. The meal was good too!!
    We felt that there were more stalls there this year...
    the tomato seed lady from "Le Potager d' Autrefois" hasn't been before... although we've come across her before at Valmer's Spring Plant Sale...
    We also bought a rhizome, from the bulb stall, that you two are probably familiar with... Kahili Ginger [ginger species but not edible]... we intend to 'contain' it in the front bed.

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  2. We were all set to come in the morning when we saw the heavy fog and decided against it.
    Perhaps just as well as there was a horrible fatal accident that morning [just 2 km outside of Charnizay on the way to Preuilly]. Black ice was probably the cause.

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  3. I shall make sure Sue reads this post - I'm sure she would have enjoyed being there.

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  4. Tim: I thought there were actually slightly fewer stalls, but that the quality was very high. I've never heard of Kahili ginger, but I'm guessing it's a name for a flowering ginger lily -- they are lovely -- my mother has one in a big pot by the back door. Are they hardy? I wouldn't have thought so, but you never know.

    N&A: I heard on the news there was an accident, but didn't quite pick up where.

    Leon: I think the saffron fair is one of the best small gourmet markets at the moment.

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  5. In the current climate isn't it reassuring to know the producer of the food you buy and eat!

    Looks like an interesting and productive way to spend some time.

    Thanks for the informaion.

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  6. Why can't we have ore of these events in Belgium?! Sigh!! What a place to stock up on good produce ... Martine

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  7. Susan, the member of the ginger family is in Latin... Hedychium gardnerianum... apparently one of Australia's most invasive plants... hardy to -7C [for the roots]... hardier if you give it a thick mulch... preferably of well rotted manure, 'tis very hungry.

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  8. Gaynor: The human food chain at any level relies on trust. Breach of trust is only discovered by accident, and perhaps is more likely when the chain is longer.

    Martine: I particularly looked forward to being able to stock up on vanilla.

    Tim: yep, that looks like what my mother has in a pot. I've never heard of it being a problem in Australia, but it might be. I saw a lot of invasive plants last year, but not this one. A quick internet search reveals it is a problem in NZ and Hawaii, but it's not declared a noxious weed in Australia. The official advice is that it has naturalised in some places, but is still controllable. It is a species to be kept very much under observation as a threat, but so far so good. It's native to Nepal, so that explains why it is cold tolerant.

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  9. Things are certainly livening up in rural France if fairs like this are burgeoning.

    Your photographs gave a real sense of the atmosphere.

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