France is still the undisputed leader in cuisine and wine making. These high standards are kept alive in Poitou Charentes traditions so a visit to this region is a pleasure for the palate as well as the eyes. French Rental Holidays offers two charming cottages for your gastronomic holiday. This page is designed to help you get the most out of culinary and winery delights during your stay. The Vienne has a large number of local producers and regional markets with the freshest produce and best prices imaginable.
LONELY PLANET'S BEST IN TRAVEL 2012 confirms this: "The food and drink of this region is legendary. Seafood is the star attraction around La Rochelle, with nearby Ile de Ré renowned for its oysters. To combine taste-bud satisfaction with sightseeing, a visit to the distilleries and museums of the pretty cobbled town of Cognac, home of you know what, should be high on your list of places to visit".
SPECIALITIES OF THE VIENNE
A traditional soft white natural-rind goat cheese (chèvre) with a firm, creamy, soft and dry texture. Chabichou is one of the first cheeses produced in France with its quality being controlled since 1990.
Its AOC label proves its authenticity, quality and outstanding taste – a must for all cheese lovers. In fact cheese is such a tradition in Poitou-Charentes that this region produces two thirds of France's goat cheese.
Its powerful flavour and taste can be supplemented with a glass of local fine wine such as Saumur red.
LE BROYÉ DU POITOU
A delicious butter cake with a hint of rum. Tradition has it that you mustn’t cut it with a knife but rather break it with a clenched fist!
In fact Poitou-Charentes produces one of the best butters in the world known as Echiré Butter.
It has been produced since the early 20th century and has been granted an AOC label for its authenticity and exceptional taste and flavour.
The rich soil in the region gives Echiré butter its unique character and elegant flavour.
LE FARCI POITEVIN
This dish originally emerged as a tasty way to use leftovers.
It is a Poitou stuffed herb paté dish based on vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, spinach, beetroot, leek, onions, parsley), eggs and bacon.
The dish displays subtle differences throughout the region. Farci has been the traditional mainstay for centuries and is usually eaten with bread.
Farci Poitevin is normally poached in a bouillon (stock) and then cooked in the oven.
It is eaten cold to fully appreciate its powerful flavour.
LES MACARONS DE MONTMORILLON
The city of Montmorillon is well known for its macarons and even has a museum dedicated to it.
The Maison Rannou-Métivier is the oldest macaron bakery in Montmorillon, dating back to 1920.
The traditional recipe for Montmorillon macarons remains unchanged for over 150 years and the first macarons can be traced back to the 17th century.
They really do melt in your mouth and are an absolute must-try.
LE TOURTEAU FROMAGE
This is a traditional Poitou cheesecake totally unique to this area.
The recipe calls for goat's cheese, eggs, flour and sugar and produces a spongy cake with a black crust.
It originates in the 19th century.
The characteristic dark crust is achieved by baking in a very hot oven before reducing the temperature.
It serves the purpose of keeping the cake inside exceptionally fresh.
This is also known as goureon in Montmorillon patois. La Grimolle is a thick crêpe (or pancake) garnished with apples or pears.
Its unique flavour comes from cooking it on a bed of cabbage.
In times gone by it was cooked in the old stone ovens that were also used to bake bread.
LE PÂTÉ DE PÂQUES
A traditional starter in the Montmorillon commune which is eaten at Easter time.
It is pâté made from minced pork, mushrooms and hard-boiled eggs.
It is always served cold accompanied by fresh crisp lettuce.
With its extensive coastline and cosmopolitan resorts, the area offers excellent fish and seafood such as: mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, sole, turbot, halibut, eel, mullet, skate, sea bream, sea bass, carp and cuttlefish.
All these can be served in delicious wine sauces.
La Rochelle offers mouclade, a regional Poitou dish made with locally grown mussels.
Mussels are cooked in white wine, served on the half shell and then topped with a creamy sauce.
WINES AND VINYARDS
The Vienne Département is bursting with vinyards and is an excellent wine growing region. Red wines, white wines and rosés are produced, some examples being Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Cabernet and Pinot Noir.
Many wineries provide a full visitor service with reception areas, guided tours of the cellars, wine tastings and shopping opportunities.
For those who have a passion for wine, follow the Haut Poitou Wine Trail. This will take you to the most famous vinyards and allow you to meet the local wine growers and sample their varieties.
FAIRS AND MARKETS
The Vienne Département is bursting with farmers' markets and fairs where you can buy the freshest produce imaginable at excellent prices. They are a great way to spend an hour or so while experiencing France at its best. Availles-Limouzine has a market on the 17th of the month and La Trimouille on the 4th of the month.
Les Herolles: If you happen to be staying at the end of the month, head to Les Herolles on the 29th. A visit to this traditional, country market, held every month of the year for over 400 years, is a unique event not to be missed. It provides lots of interest and is an outstanding photographic opportunity.
PLEASE VISIT THEIR SITES FOR MORE DETAILS ON CUISINE AND VINYARDS