Monday, October 22, 2012

Amboise et Ailleurs

A few weeks ago I was going stir-crazy from sitting inside working on the computer all day, and when Sunday proved to be clear and warm, I begged Seb to take me somewhere, anywhere, just to get out for a bit. He kindly agreed and we took the dog and drove to Amboise, a bit upriver from Tours, where there is a weekly market every Sunday that's one of the largest in the region. Large enough that tour buses bring people from outside the immediate area for their shopping. The booths and stalls run in two lanes for many blocks along the south bank of the Loire, with the usual mix of food, produce, clothes, random household accessories, flowers, and knockoff leather goods and jewelry. We got there towards the end of the market, but there were still many people in the aisles, even as the vendors started to take down their awnings and pack up for the day.

I continued my exploration of French charcuterie with a purchase of one each of donkey, pork-and-chestnut, pork-and-fig, and taureau, which translates to "bull" although I'm not sure if they really use ballsy beeves or if it's just your generic variety. If I hadn't recently had a good breakfast I would have been tempted by the savory roast chicken and the chicken-fat-covered potatoes roasting beneath them.

I made a note of this recipe for braised goat in cider, and when the weather gets colder (and I can find another goat meat vendor) I'll give it a try. The tripe terrine, however, was only attractive in a visual sense. Not that I wouldn't try it, just to see what it's like. But maybe some other day.

We left the riverside market and went across to the main area of town at the base of the Château Royal d'Amboise, a 15th-century edifice surrounded by 11th-century fortified walls, where Leonardo da Vinci is said to be buried. Whether they're his bones or not, it's true that he did spend his final years in Amboise, and his house and gardens are open to the public. Because of this, and the popularity of château-visiting in general, Amboise is quite the tourist town. We got stuck behind one of the little diesel-powered sightseeing trains for a while, but that let me get a closer look at the timber-framed houses along the cliff-edged fort walls, and a peek at one of the "troglodyte" houses built into the cliffs themselves.

We drove back along the north side of the river, through several smaller towns, including Vouvray and Rochecorbon. One of Seb's frozen-food delivery clients lives in Rochecorbon, in the house that was used as the family home in Jean Cocteau's 1946 film "La Belle et la Bête." We couldn't go up to the house, as he didn't have a delivery, but I peeked in through the gate. L'amour peut faire qu'un homme devienne bête. L'amour peut faire aussi qu'un homme laid devienne beau.

Vouvray is a well-known wine region, and the vineyards stretched for miles to either side of the road. The grape harvest was over, though, and the empty crates were piled at the ends of the rows.

No comments:

Post a Comment