Hello, fellow food lovers! Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire River Valley France, where spring has sprung and life is busting out all over! This is the view as I drove into my new hometown in Mouliherne today with her twisted bell tower and the view of a huge ornamental cherry in my front yard from one of my guest bedrooms.
Today I spent most of the day at my new house, jackhammer in hand, taking miles of concrete and old plaster off of the native Tufa stone walls. It was a gruelling job, but boy, when you hit it just right, and a huge piece of plaster comes off easily, it is really satisfying. That big white rectangle on the left of the photo below is a very poorly done patch to cover an old doorway. I will be removing it and be rebuilding the wall in that area with more tufa stone. When it is completed I hope you will not be able to tell it was ever there. The stone will be sanded and regrouted and will look amazing when done. You will just have to take my word for that until I can show you ‘after’ pictures.
While I was whacking away at my walls a good friend happened by, Jonathan Robinson, who owns the wonderful boutique hotel Moulin Bregeon, an old, renovated water mill in the village of Linieres-Bouton, where I am currently renting a house while mine is being restored. He invited me to dinner, an invitation I was reluctant to accept as I was covered in stone dust, but knowing that I would be in the company of he and his two partners Pascal and Bernard, who I adore, as well as others who have worked at the hotel in the past and who just can’t stop coming back, I accepted. Here is the front of the hotel. It is an image I may have posted in the past, but it is worth repeating. The geese were right on cue for this picture!
What is so wonderful about dining with good friends is that they don’t care how you show up. There was no judgement about the fact that I needed a shower and a change of clothes, nor did they show any signs of stress that they had not planned on another person for dinner. They put a glass of lovely, local Loire Valley wine in my hands and served a wonderful, impromptu dinner of leftovers from the night before, all re-invented into a delectable meal. And before dinner was even over I was invited again tomorrow night for Coq Au Vin! Now that is French hospitality!
Now in our book, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping, we have a recipe for Coq Au Vin, and it is made in a more provincial white wine, not the typical red wine based Coq Au Vin that is typical here in the Loire. When I mentioned this to my hosts, I received the following lesson. Mind you, we had already had dinner and perhaps a couple glasses of wine, so you will understand the background giggles and the wonderful performance by my dear friend Pascal as he explains what is in his Coq Au Vin.
Ah… Life in France! Come on over and stay at the beautiful boutique hotel Moulin Bregeon in the Loire River Valley! And don’t forget to get your copy of The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook so that you, too, can experience your own taste of France.
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Denise, Gail and Lindsey