Christmas is a coming and the geese are getting fat!

Hello world travellers, campers and gourmets! Greetings this week from the beautiful Loire river valley in France. Today I’d like to share with you a wonderful day trip I made with the members of a food writing workshop I attended in Chinon, France. The class took place at the beautiful Hotel Diderot in Chinon and was taught by hotel owner and cookbook author Jamie Schler and Domenica Marchetti, an Italian cookbook author with several remarkable books out. Here is a picture of the beautiful Hotel Diderot.

As part of the workshop a day trip was scheduled to the fairy tale chateau and winery Le Chateau du Petit-Thouars. We drove up the tree lined driveway filled with anticipation, and slowly the amazing castle was revealed.

It was spectacular as you can see! The Chateau du Petit-Thouars was built beginning in the 16th century and has been in the family of the current owners, Count Sebastien and D’Arcy du Petit-Thouars, since the 17th century. We were awestruck by the beautiful carvings on the building, the architecture and of course the rural setting.



Sebastian told us the history of the chateau and vineyards, in between running back and forth to the kitchen to check on the Coq au Vin he was making us for lunch. Then he turned us over to D’Arcy for a trip to the wine cellars and the vineyard.

D’Arcy was a wealth of knowledge. She led the tour into the century old wine cellars, all carved from the surrounding tufa stone that was used to build the chateau, and explained how they process their wines.

Then it was off to see the vines. D’Arcy explained that in Chinon there are some very strict rules that every vineyard must abide by. She showed us how they must prune the vines every winter so that only one vine remains, and it must be cut back so that no more than seven buds remain on the vine. This insures that the grapes produced will be of the highest quality. At the chateau they grow Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, and they are single grape wines, meaning they do not blend in any other grape varieties.

Then came the wine tasting!



The table was set with the most wonderful array of patés and rillettes, and of course delicious, crusty french bread. As we sampled the delectable appetizers, Sebastian began the wine tasting. He is a firm believer that wine must be enjoyed with food. And we were not going to argue with that! They were delicious! Then came lunch!

Fall off the bone Coq au Vin, chicken stewed in red wine, and mashed potatoes. Yum!

And dessert was an apple tart with a port wine glaze. A real work of art! By this time we were all quite full and satisfied with the warming lunch our hosts had so graciously provided. We lined up afterwards to purchase some of their wines and then went outside in front of the chateau to take this group picture.

That’s Jamie and Domenica in the front row on the right and my head is sticking up between theirs in the back. What a day! Now it was back to the Hotel Diderot to continue our lessons.

I made some wonderful new friends in Jamie and Domenicas’ workshop, and had lots of fun doing so.

Jamie was so sweet to get our adorable cookbook, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping, into an article for the Huff Posts Holiday Gift Guide. Here is the link: If you hurry you can still get a copy in the mail to family and friends for Christmas! to order go to this link: http://www.gourmetgirlsonfire/shop.

The picture of the geese at the head of this post was taken at the Moulin Bregeon in Linières-Bouton, a wonderful boutique hotel here in the Loire.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Denise, Gail and Lindsey