Friday, 14 May 2021

Manoir de Roziers

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Rear view.

The Manoir de Roziers is an attractive privately owned property near Pouzay. The current buildings in the manor complex all date from the 16th century. In 1545 it was inherited by Louis Brossin de Méré, Governor of Loches. He sold it in 1549 to Antoine de Jussac, whose father had been killed at the Battle of Pavia (where Francois I was captured). Antoine had two sons and the daughter of one of them got permission to marry her uncle, the other son of Antoine. Despite this type of avunculate marriage required a papal dispensation, and meaning the couple were more closely related than first cousins, who were also considered too closely related to marry, it was surprisingly common. Antoine was buried in the church at Sepmes. 

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
From the side.

The manor sits at the top of a slope, surrounded by well preserved walls. In the middle of the complex is a large round tower which is a dovecote, with its niches still intact on the upper level inside. The main house has gable ends, and an upturned boat style carpentry roof space in between them.  It is accessed by an irregular sided staircase tower lit by a dormer with a curved pediment and a little balustraded balcony. Two other towers are nearby, one with a stone roof on the corner of a barn and an isolated one with an unusual staircase coiling around it, visible because of damage to the tower.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Barn and stone topped tower.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Front gate, dovecote, animal shelters, coach house.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Dovecote, ruined tower with staircase, gable end of main house.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The complex as seen from across the valley.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Dovecote, ruined tower with staircase, main house.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Dormer window above the staircase tower in the main house.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Coach house.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Back of the main house and dovecote.

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Animal shelters (kennels? veal pens?).

Manoir de Roziers, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Main house.

 


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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Thursday, 13 May 2021

Richelieu Work

Between the Wars there was a tremendous fashion for Richelieu Work (Broderie Richelieu in French), with many women making their trousseaux in the 1930s to include household linen in what was more generally referred to as 'white work' (Broderie Blanche). Because there is no distraction of colours, technique matters, so it was important to demonstrate your skill with finely embroidered white on white tablecloths and napkins, sheets and pillow cases. If this altar cloth in the church at Sainte Catherine de Fierbois is anything to go by, the enthusiasm for white on white cutwork spilled over into the ecclesiastical realm too. 

Altar in the church at Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The altar cloth is made using a stitch called Point de Richelieu, a small scalloped closed blanket stitch which is used to create the outline of a design, then small sharp pointed scissors are used to cut away the cloth inside the stitching, forming something that is a halfway house between embroidery and needle lace, known in English as cutwork. To prevent a complex piece from simply falling apart, stitched bars with little bobbles called picots are made to bridge the larger cut away sections (if the bars don't have the picots then technically it is Point de Renaissance). Its heyday was 1920 to 1939. Once World War Two broke out, fripperies like embroidery were packed away, and the knitting needles came out to produce more practical items. After the Second World War women did go back to embroidery, but adopted much less technically demanding styles, such as cross stitch and needlepoint. Broderie Anglaise (another type of white work) patterns were published in women's magazines from time to time, but they are a far cry from the intricate and delicate Broderie Richelieu done by the previous generation of stitchers.

Broderie Richelieu worked altarcloth in the church in Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Nowadays, you probably couldn't make an altar cloth like this. Not because modern embroiderers don't have the skills, but because it is quite likely neither the quality of cloth nor thread would be available. It is particularly difficult to find long filament natural fibre thread of sufficient fineness to do this sort of work these days.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. You may also like to check out our YouTube channel. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

World War II French Resistance in the Touraine Loire Valley -- La Roche Posay Hostage Crisis

This is the second in my series about the French Resistance during the Second World War in the Loire Valley, where I live. It is a story that first gained my attention because my husband shares a family name with the priest, one of the main protagonists. I have pieced the story together from reading eyewitness accounts.

Square named after Resistance hero Father Brand, in La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Square named after Father Brand in La Roche Posay. He went on to become Bishop of Strazbourg after the War.

La Roche Posay is a small spa town about a ten minutes car journey from where I live. The water here is high in selenium and is the basis of skin care products in l’Oréal’s La Roche Posay range. L’Oréal owns much of the commercial centre of town and before the Covid19 pandemic there were big plans announced of a huge investment into the community infrastructure to turn the town into a luxury spa resort with access to cutting edge skin care treatments. If you have an intractable skin condition in France, your doctor may well give you a prescription for two weeks in La Roche Posay to ‘take the cure’, all paid for by your State health insurance. Visitors to the town’s spas are known as curistes. But that is today, when all is peaceful, and I want to tell you about a frightening incident that occurred here 76 years ago, only a day after the liberation of Paris.

Grave of Resistance fighter Jacques Martin, La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The grave of Resistance fighter, Jacques Martin, just outside La Roche Posay.

The Nazi officer in charge of German troops in our area was the notorious Brigadier General Botho Elster, who is known to be directly responsible for a number of atrocities. On Sunday 27 August 1944 a German column led by Elster took 60 people hostage in La Roche Posay. Every year on the anniversary there is a ceremony of remembrance in the town. 

Collecting water from the public fountain at La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Me collecting the mineral rich water from the public fountain in La Roche Posay.

After the Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and following that, in Provence on 15 August, the German army pulled back towards the East and crossed the Touraine, south of the Loire, where I live, harassed all the way by the French Resistance (maquis) and by Allied bombing. Several thousand Indians had enlisted with the Germans, due to dissatisfaction with the British, and with the Germans coming to La Roche Posay were Sikh troops who were particularly encouraged to spread fear amongst the population, partly just by virtue of their exotically foreign appearance which in rural France could be enough to cause terror. But they also seemed hellbent on really overstepping the mark and are reported as entering and occupying private homes and at times chasing down women and gang raping them (the Director of a nearby girls school wrote an alarming account). All the enemy troops engaged in stealing bicycles, carts and horses, burning houses and shooting local men.

La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
La Roche Posay.

On that Sunday in August 1944, everything was calm in La Roche-Posay but all too soon it was announced that a German column was coming towards the village. Everyone knew about the recent tragic events of Oradour sur Glane, where the occupants were massacred and the town burned. Some inhabitants of La Roche Posay left at this point, bundles in hand, probably to take refuge in neighbouring farms. With the approach of the column along the Pleumartin road, about 6 pm in the evening, anyone remaining barricaded themselves inside, shutters slammed, and doors locked. Children were sent down to the cellars. When the Germans arrived the cowering people could hear, out in the street, orders shouted, rifle butts beating on the doors, windows being broken. Two German soldiers with a hostage came seeking the 'Burgmeister'. The mayor, Robert Nonnet, immediately realised that they were there for him, and bravely went out to meet them, leaving his two teenage sons hiding in their cellar. 

Summer storm brewing over La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Summer storm brewing over La Roche Posay.

Shortly before they reached La Roche-Posay, the German column was attacked by some French Forces of the Interior (FFI) Resistance fighters. In revenge, the Germans burned the nearest farm. They were by then very nervous, and feared further attacks by the Resistance, so they made threats to the local populace. At the Hotel du Parc, where nearly 300 orphaned students from the Herriot School in Strasbourg were refugees, the Germans discovered about 25 men, who were Resisance fighters more or less disguised as school staff. The stressed German soldiers only had one thought at that time, to get across the bridge over the River Creuse at La Roche Posay, then the bridge over the Claise at Preuilly-sur-Claise (where I live), fleeing north. But they feared that the Resistance would destroy the bridges and block their flight, leaving them at risk of being massacred.

Hotel du Parc, a spa in La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The Hotel du Parc, where the refugee children and Resistance fighters were sheltering.

Then the Resistance Corporal Nahola, who was from the French colony of Madagascar, was shot; a local farmer was killed; and around sixty locals taken hostage. Father Brand, chaplain of the Herriot School, intervened with the Germans. He managed to broker a deal with the German Commandant: to contact the Resistance and convince them not to attempt any action in the night and not to destroy the bridge at Preuilly, otherwise the hostages would be executed. 

Father Brand then had a meeting with Georges Butruille, one of the leaders of local Resistance, who accepted the deal. He was next brought to an isolated farm where he remained hidden. At La Roche-Posay, the hostages, after questioning, were freed. The mayor saved their lives by vowing that there were no maquisards or FFI among them, which was untrue. The mayor of Preuilly equally put his own life on the line by promising that the Germans would not be subject to guerrilla attacks as they passed through his jurisdiction.

The soldiers of the Elster Column finally left La Roche-Posay, but not without looting houses and having killed a young Resistance fighter from Yzeures sur Creuse, Jacques Martin, who had come to convey a message to his friends. They were finally stopped not very far away but that is another story, for another day. In brief, the Germans had to fight their way through my village, but finally they made it to Beaugency, where the leaders of the French Resistance and the American Airforce General Macon took their surrender on 17 September, on the bridge over the Loire. It was the largest mass surrender of the Second World War.

After the War, Father Brand became Bishop of Strasbourg.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2021

The Changing Face of the Clock in Loches

Design from 1912 for the clock face on the Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France.
1912 design for the clock face.

The clock on the Porte Picois in Loches came from the Convent Church of the Chartreuse du Liget. It was removed from there in 1791, seized as a national asset during the Revolution. It was then installed in the south face of the belfry of the Porte Picois (the one facing inside the walls and towards the citadel) in 1794 and remained there until 1946. By that time it was in a very poor state and was retired to a visible storage display in the town hall next door. The local master horologist Gilles Vassort spent 95 hours restoring it in 1995. Also at some point in the second half of the 20th century the clock face was dismantled and replaced by face identical to the modern one currently on the opposite side, which is white numbers on a slate background.

Clock face, Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The clock face, January 2021.

The Médiatheque du Patrimoine (Heritage Library) holds drawings for a restoration project in 1912. At this point it seems to me likely that a copy of the Liget clock face was installed on the Marché du blé side (north, wheat market side) of the tower. From photographs we know it was still there in 1949. But the records are frustratingly vague about when changes occurred, and which versions of the clock faces are being used. I find myself wondering if the clock face we see today is the original from the Chartreuse du Liget, or a recreation from 1912. Either way, it seems extraordinary to expose it to the elements, especially as the decision was taken to remove the original wooden statue of the Madonna in the niche below and put it in the gallery attached to Saint Antoine's for safekeeping. The statue in the niche now is a modern copy.

Clock tower, Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Clock tower, January 2021.

Clock tower, Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Clock tower photographed in 2013.

Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The bigger picture.

Horologist workshop, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
I notice the master horologist's workshop in Loches has a panel in the same pattern as the clock face.


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Monday, 10 May 2021

Potager Pie

In English, a potato topped 'pie' made with lamb is shepherd's pie, if it is made with beef it is supposedly cottage pie. In French a dish like this is a parmentier, named after Auguste Parmentier, who popularised the potato in France. French parmentiers are often made with duck. But I wanted to make a vegetarian one, and decided that potager pie might be Franglais, but it is nice and alliterative, so it stays.

Homemade Potager Pie. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

Ingredients

2 cups of cooked lentils (2/3 cup of uncooked lentils)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

A yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp olive oil

4 carrots, diced

4 celery stalks or half a celeriac, diced

350 g button mushrooms, sliced

3/4 tsp salt

Several sprigs of thyme

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Ground black pepper to taste

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp flour

1 cup vegetable stock 

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup frozen peas

700 g potatoes, cooked and mashed with butter and milk

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 250C.
  2. Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a Dutch oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and celery and sweat for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, salt, thyme, paprika and pepper and sweat for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and flour, stirring so everything is coated.
  6. Add the wine and stir to deglaze.
  7. Add the stock and bring to the boil so it thickens.
  8. Stir in the lentils and peas.
  9. Dollop and spread the mashed potato on top of the vegetables in their gravy, roughing up the mash and giving it a pattern.
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  11. Serves 6. 

 

Making potager pie. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Making potager pie. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Buying organic vegetables on the farm, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Buying organic vegetables at the farm (Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière).

Organic vegetables at a market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Organic vegetables at the market in Preuilly (Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière).

Greengrocer stall, Loches market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Greengrocer stall at Loches market.

Market gardeners stall, Loches market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Local market garden stall (Ets Tarnier from Beaulieu lès Loches) at Loches market.

Spring carrots. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Localy grown spring carrots.

Rose lentils. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Locally grown rose lentils (from the Berry, to our east).

Homegrown Stemster potatoes. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Homegrown Stemster potatoes.

Garlic drying. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Garlic drying at a local farm.

Sliced celeriac. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Celeriac, peeled and sliced.

Yellow onions. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Yellow onions (imported to France from Australia!)

Cave grown chestnut mushrooms, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Local cave grown chestnut mushrooms (Caves Champignonnières des Roches).

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. You may also like to check out our YouTube channel. 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

A Disintegrating Grass Tree

This photograph shows a grass tree trunk disintegrating. It is made up of the bases of each of the narrow leaves, and comes away in layers or chunks. The inner trunk has a pockmarked surface from where the leaves have attached, and a hard rod in the centre, which is the remains of the flower stalk.

Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea sp trunk disintegrating, Australia. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Grass trees Xanthorrhoea spp are endemic to Australia, growing mainly in the eastern, south-eastern and south-western coastal areas.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

The Montmartre Museum

Renoir's studio, Montmartre, Paris, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

In 2002 we did a guided walk around Montmartre and called in at the Musée de Montmartre. It has since been given a makeover. This building was artists' studios, used by several of the well known Impressionists, particularly Renoir.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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Friday, 7 May 2021

La Ferme de la Houdriere

La Ferme de la Houdrière is a large fortified farm near Pouzay, in Vienne [link]. They are primarily producers of certified Roi Rose de Touraine (pink king) pork, but for the last twenty years they have also hosted and run an American Country and Western festival called The American Day. It's held in September and features live music, line dancing, reinactors, and lots of local producers to sell their wares to the crowds. My friend Louisette went in 2017 and posted lots of photos on her blog [link].

La Ferme de la Houdriere, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

We were particularly impressed by the stone columns holding up the large carport roof.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Chalon Cross

 

La Croix Chalon (the Chalon Cross), Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

This cross is on the corner of an enclosure on the outskirts of Draché, on the road to Maillé. It dates from 1882 and is known as the Croix Chalon.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Baguette Vending Machines in the Touraine Loire Valley

Increasingly, as the population in rural France ages and declines, village bakeries are struggling. Yet French law demands that everyone have access to fresh bread. When a bakery closes, often when the baker retires and no one takes the business over, small villages can be left with no supplier of bread in the community

Buying a baguette from a vending machine, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


A typical village bakery employs about six people, four of whom are apprentices. Becoming a baker is the most popular apprenticeship in France. But young bakers don’t necessarily want to strike out on their own, which is why village bakeries are at risk when the owner retires. Young bakers these days generally prefer to be salaried workers, and will choose to work in a bakery factory or supermarket bakery rather than risk being self-employed business owners

Buying a baguette from a vending machine, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


In the past what would have happened is one of two alternatives. Either a bakery from a nearby village that had a delivery round would extend their range and deliver to households in the next municipality. Or another shop in the village that had lost its bakery would act as a depôt du pain, selling bread from the bakery in a neighbouring village for a small premium. Nowadays though fewer and fewer bakeries do house to house deliveries, and many small villages do not have any shops left

Baguette vending machine, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


The solution for many small local authorities today is to arrange a partnership with a bakery in a nearby village and to install a baguette vending machine. The neighbouring bakery replenishes the stock a couple of times a day and the bread costs maybe 5 cents more than if you bought it in the shop, around €1 or €1.10. The vending machines take cash and/or card and give change. One of our local bakeries invested not only in a vending machine for a nearby village, but also in an electric delivery vehicle, to make sure they were being as ecologically friendly as possible.


They become an informal ‘office water cooler’ style meeting place, where locals gather for a chat and to pick up the daily bread. I’ve noticed that the mayor of small communities can frequently be found lurking about the baguette machine. They are making themselves available to residents, and gathering intel. The baguettes on offer are the type known as tradition. A baguette de tradition is an artisanal product with ingredients and method of production strictly defined by law. It is not an industrial product, but made fresh and from scratch on a daily basis. The ingredients are wheat flour, salt, water and a little bakers yeast. No 'bread improvers' or other additions are allowed (except a very small percentage of soy or lentil flour). A poolish (pre-ferment) is made, then the dough is given minimal kneading (just enough to incorporate the remaining flour and water). The dough is set in a proving chamber to rise. It is knocked back and allowed to rise four times before being divided and shaped by hand into baguettes. Then it is laid out on undulating linen sheets known as toiles de couches to rise before baking on the floor of the oven. Frozen dough may not be used. This seemingly old fashioned approach is to ensure quality, taking time so the yeast provides leavening, flavour and modifies the flour into a loaf that has become legendary worldwide.



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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Lavoir at Drache

 

Lavoir (public laundry), Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
 

This lavoir (public laundry) is to the west of the village of Draché, on the road to Maillé.

Lavoir (public laundry), Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.



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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. You may also like to check out our YouTube channel. 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Breakfast of Champignons

 

Homemade mushroom ragout with polenta. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Mushroom ragout served with polenta.

Mushroom Ragout Recipe [link]: This is a perfect dish to take advantage of the range of high quality cave grown mushrooms you can get in the Touraine Loire Valley, but wild mushrooms would also work well. Don't augment with dried mushrooms, but try to get three or four varieties of fresh meaty mushrooms.

Homemade mushrooms with bacon and onion. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Frying cave grown mushrooms with lardons and onions.

Homemade creamy king oyster mushrooms. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Creamy Oyster Mushrooms.

Creamy Oyster Mushrooms Recipe [link]: White Ferula Mushrooms are a type of premium oyster mushroom much prized as a culinary ingredient. They were offered to me at a very reasonable €10/kg by the producer and I jumped at the chance.

Homemade stuffed portobello mushrooms. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Stuffed mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe [link]: We are really lucky here to have access to cave grown mushrooms. Because they grow slowly they are completely unlike supermarket mushrooms in texture. Cave grown mushrooms are meaty and flavourful, like a wild mushroom. They cost a bit more, but it's worth it, as they don't reduce much in quantity when cooked. Best of all, they are clean, with no leaf litter to wipe off and no maggots (unlike wild mushrooms).

Frying Wood Blewit mushrooms. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Cave grown Wood Blewits, fried with onions.

Recipe for Stroganoff with Wood Blewits: Brush the Wood Blewits off, cut them into quarters and fry them with onions. Then sear some strips of beef that have been dredged in flour, add the mushrooms and onions, some beef stock, a dollop of tomato paste, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a generous pinch of thyme and lots of paprika. Once the flavours had developed and everything is cooked, add a little pot of plain yoghurt to make stroganoff. Serve with buttered noodles.


Yum

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos.