Friday, September 10, 2010

Orleans, France: French cooking, dining and drinking

"asia-sickness", a condition where you miss tom yum, bak kut teh, adobo, sashimi, ramen, dimsum and chili crabs. 

To overcome this condition from getting severe, HT hubbie made sure that we always do my second next love from eating i.e. travelling.

One of the advantages of living in Europe is that travel is so accessible.  It's easy and convenient especially going to the not-so-usual tourist cities.

This time, we were fortunate to join our friends in their hometown Orleans France.  And I was amazed how beautiful the city is.  And less tourist-y of course.
the Cathedral of St. Croix with roadwork (they're building trams)

almost all houses are these big and pretty.  There is a Dutch saying "Leven als God in Frankrijk"  (living like gods in France)

the famous Loire River - a UNESCO World Heritage and the longest river in France (wikipedia)

the area is known for their beautiful chateaux (Chateau de Chambord)

Of course, sightseeing wouldn't be fun without exploring local food!
spices and dried fruits being sold by grams in Friday market in the square just like in NL (Utrecht market)

French are known to be producing one of the best wines in the world.  Nope, this is not a winery or a wine shop, but a self-made cellar of our French host!  800 bottles (now down too 790 after drinking 10 bottles in 3 days).  His stories about his collection was so interesting.   He would buy 3-4 euro (6-8 sgd) bottles of wine and would keep it in his cellar for years.  Check out this 1985 wine bottle.  This would costs 10x as much as the time he bought it. His wine collection is for personal consumption and he haven't sold a bottle and have no plans to.  He even created a spreadsheet, containing columns and rows of his cellar, year, wine area, so that it's easy to pick the bottle he fancies on certain days.   (well with 800 bottles, it would be a pain checking one by one!)

at the corner of their basement, I just can't help looking at this dried sausage that has been hanging there for 7 months!  Amazingly, it didn't give out bad odor in the room.

HT hubbie had the most of it (his favorite)

Aside from the dried sausage slices, we had these as appetizers...caviar on small pancakes, sweet, fresh cherry tomatoes (they go to a big farm having all types of fruits and veggies, and hand pick them personally.  Usually it takes them 3-4 hours to do their shopping in the field) and small packs of herb-flavored cheeses.

And for main course, we had seafood galore!  A huge chunk of tuna that we shared, pieces of grilled prawns and a typical french dish, ratatouille (it was soo good!).  She taught HT hubbie how to make an authentic one!  Can't wait for the Dutch version :)

We wouldn't consider our dinner done without this homemade dessert.  This egg pie with freshly picked berries in the garden was very delicious! (who cares about extra kilos at that moment?)

We were lucky to experience Loire Festival which runs every September.  We went to another city Montargis, where the festival starts and had fun with the locals.  Aside from exhibits and watching kids having fun, food stalls were present to bring more joy to this festivity.  The caramel blocks were so addictive and we brought back some cheese with us in NL.  Livarot is one of the oldest cheese in France according to our friends.

A famous chocolate shop in the area, Mazet De Montargis, showcased their well-known treats.  We bought a few items but HT hubby and I have both agreed that we stick our love for chocolates in Belgium.

After a long day in the festival, we proved to ourselves of being carnivorous on our dinner table. Nicely grilled steak (no sauce needed, the meat was juicy and tasty itself) and different flavorful sausages...ahh, it felt like heaven!

With almost overflowing meal for 2 days, we decided to keep our last meal quick and simple before we leave Orleans.
until Au suggested to have duck confit, which according to her was easy to make but I had a doubt at first (As I can only get this in a formal restaurant where it takes at least an hour to prepare this mains).  But here in France, You can get it in cans!  She came out holding this huge can containing 4 legs of  duck confit.  She mentioned the process of fattening ducks by force feeding them through a funnel which provides fatty liver that we get in restaurants.  They don't throw away the body parts but instead, they process them in cans like this.  And she even attested that a lot of restaurants uses canned duck confit as it is not easy to get them unless they have a regular supplier.  The usual French way of cooking this is frying potatoes using the duck fat which is placed in a separate pan while the duck legs are heated up in its own fats and juice.

Here you go!  I was astounded how the confit coming from a can was lovely in taste. And with a good presentation and garnish, this would mistakenly cooked fresh by a star chef!

we would always have 3 bottles of wine (sparkling for appetizers, red for red meat, white for seafood) every meal.  As much as the French embrace wine, the same way they embrace cheese (this is a must after every meal)

I really enjoyed my 3-day trip of sightseeing, drinking and eating.  Thanks P & A!  I left my heart in Orleans but I brought back extra weight with me back home (I need to shed off a few kilos)

 Au revoir!


  1. i doubt duck confits served in singapore are from a can cos canned duck confit costs quite a sum in supermarkets here haha.

    gosh everything here looks so pretty/delicious as usual...especially the egg pie! i'm sure you'll eventually master cooking asian dishes with practice(:

  2. True, i think in asia, we can get fresh duck more affordable than here in Europe considering overhead cost. Haha I didn't know you can get canned duck confit in Singapore! Do you know how much they cost?

  3. Every single meal looks so delicious! Now I want steak and tuna and duck confit for breakfast. ;)

  4. i'm not too sure, but it must have cost at least $20! will check it out the next time i visit fairprice finest.

  5. Hi Alison, indeed, lekker!

    Hey Phoebe, haha when are you and chloe dropping by again in EU? :)

    Thanks Jer Lin, i'm just curious, if you stop by at Fairprice Finest then it's ok to check out, but don't go there just to check out the price of a can of duck confit ok? Appreciate it :)

  6. i wish i can say sooon...if we do, rest assured we'd pay u a visit!

  7. Wowwowowww I'm feeling hungrying just looking at all that! Oh and the wine cellar too :)

  8. Hey Glenn! Yes, it's really something when you go to a country as tourist and lived like the locals (that means staying with the people there). And French are really passionate with their food and wine :)And it proves that good food and drinks don't come with prices.

  9. *wow* beautiful!!! =D
    keep posting!!!