Shrunken pears

There’s a process here in the Loire called Poire Tapee. Basically, it’s dehydrated pears but the process is rather long and involved and what it produces is delicious. It’s odd that we’ve never come across it before, given we’ve visited the Loire a few times. I’m happy to say that that situation was rectified this evening.

To say the drive from Cenac to Chinon was uneventful would be stretching the truth somewhat, however, I’m going to let it slip away, like so much dust from a tractors wheels, and move straight on to Chinon. I would like to mention that, while I don’t have a problem with farm vehicles on public roads per se, I’d rather they didn’t take up the entire width of it, particularly when the road has big ditches either side. This goes a bit beyond irritating. To say the least.

But…Chinon…home of Rabelais and a very impressive ruined chateau…

rebalais

That’s the former, sitting by the river, looking at the latter. He may be thinking up some bawdy joke or other as he muses on the extraordinary amount of British tourists that have visited his home town. And it’s true, Chinon, for reasons known only to the Brits, has become a magnet for them. They flock here every year and a lot of them end up staying and putting down roots.

It could be because of the beauty of the place. It does look stunning. It sits, long and ancient, following the wide River Vienne, the ruined chateau and Fort St George dominating the view like elephants in a paddling pool. It all looks quite beautiful. Especially the river.

river

We had a lovely explore of the town which included being almost mown down by a rampaging horde of fun runners in bright pink t-shirts and finally settled down for a pre-dinner drink at a pre-dinner cafe. The square was filling up with the beginnings of the French holiday season, most of which was wandering between stalls selling local produce and Ecuadorian hats of varying styles. The strangely melancholic clown who was busy improving the hair of little children was soon joined by a pair of giant butterflies which, at first, I thought were praying mantises.

butterfly

Having finished our expensive drink, we headed up the Rue Voltaire to eat at the Table of Joan of Arc. We’d spotted this restaurant on our initial sight-seeing trip around the streets and the pear drying process had us intrigued. Actually it had Bob intrigued and his intrigue quickly spread to us particularly when we realised they had a menu which included the dried pears in every course.

Standing outside the restaurant, waiting for a waitress, I was aware of a couple of Australians sitting at a table outside. Then, just ahead of us, a group of four Australians were shown to their table. As we were shown into the back room of the ancient building and took our seats, the familiar strains of a Kiwi accent floated up from behind us. It felt like we’d somehow been transported to the Southern Hemisphere without realising it.

I don’t know about the groups of Aussies but the group behind us were a small tour group, visiting small regional spots throughout France. There was a lovely gregarious Kiwi chap who was only too pleased to tell us all about their travels. He (and his wife) had planned an interesting yet diverse itinerary, part of which included the tour. They’d spent a week in a small Italian village only accessible by foot or train, a week in Switzerland, and were finishing with some time travelling along the canals of Britain in a narrow boat.

Sadly we didn’t find out much more because his wife, very directly, stole his attention back to their table with some banal comment about their tour guide. Mirinda reckoned she was jealous because he was enjoying our chat too much while she had to listen to the Canadians instead. Or maybe the wife doesn’t like Australians…who knows but she was a bit rude.

Our meal was delicious, by the way. I had scallops with dried pear followed by duck and dried apple and finished with dried pear in a calvados syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The intense flavour of the dried pears went very well with the duck (and fish, according to Bob) and the dessert was sublime. An all round delicious evening.

To say we all slept like logs would be putting it mildly.

The view of our hotel, from our window

The view of our hotel, from our window

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