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The tasty gift box we've prepared for November is an invitation to discover Anjou, nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley. Known for its mild climate, diversity of soils, fertile alluvial plains and excellent artisans, Anjou is home to a wide variety of first-rate gourmet products: vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, asparagus, meat and fowl and, of course, wines and liqueurs. This little corner of France boasts nothing less than 20 AOCs or certified designations of origin!
We fell in love with the artisans we met there, and their creations swept us off our feet: prepare to be ravished when you dig into this gift box!
Saumur Champigny - Cuvée l'Épanouie 2014, red wine (75 cl)
Winery: Domaine des coutures, Vincent NICOLAS. It won the highest distinction, the Liger d'Or, at the last Loire Wine Fair in 2016.
In the heart of Saumur-Champigny, nestled between the River Loire and the Forest of Fontevraud, this vineyard enjoys strong sunlight and fabulous climate conditions. In this highly favourable microclimate, the Cabernet Franc—queen of grapes in the Loire—truly thrives, producing a sumptuously elegant wine with a deep ruby-red colour, intensely aromatic fruity bouquet and notes of red berries in the mouth with a fairly long finish. This magnificent Saumur Champigny is perfect for accompanying many of the products in our gift box or roasted meats. Surprisingly, many Loire wines are served slightly chilled (between 13º and 16º C) to bring out the unique characteristics of the Cabernet Franc.
100% duck rillettes (190 g)
Artisan: Maison Maudet Cousin. Awarded a gold medal at the 2015 Paris International Agriculture Show.
Raised on a free-range farm for 14 weeks, the ducks at Maison Maudet Cousin are fattened on whole corn before being processed in the on-site, EEC-approved facilities to guarantee quality control from start to finish. Their 100% duck rillettes contain nothing but duck meat and fat, salt and pepper. It may sound simple, but when the raw products are of such superlative quality, the result is exquisite, achieving a smooth, creamy texture with no preservatives. As a starter or snack, spread on a piece of lightly toasted bread, these rillettes are bursting with delectable flavours.
Crunchy courgettes (190 g)
Producer: Secret de Potager.
To offset the richness of our rillettes, we bring you this light recipe: small, crunchy courgettes pickled with onion and a fine blend of spices, ideal as a cold appetizer or served with cold cuts. The vegetables are grown, harvested and processed at the maison to guarantee the quality and authenticity of this delicacy.
Delicious organic cream of white asparagus (500 ml)
Artisan: Maison Langevine.
Maison Langevine has been using organic farming methods (ECOCERT certified) to grow asparagus for three generations. As asparagus is their only crop, it’s no wonder they've achieved such perfection! Their creams are made from asparagus grown and prepared on the property, with no artificial colouring or preservatives. Heat the contents in a saucepan over low heat and dilute with no more than 10% water, add a spoonful of heavy cream (if desired), a dash of salt and pepper, et voilà—ready to eat! In addition to its amazing flavour, asparagus is an excellent source of minerals and folic acid (vitamin B9) and also contains potassium, copper, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Rich in fibre and vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6 and C), asparagus is one of the most nutritious vegetables around. What better reason to treat yourself to a gourmet cream of asparagus?
Macarons de Fontevraud (60 g)
Artisan: Maison Les Douceurs du Terroir.
The Abbey of Fontevraud is nestled deep in a vale of the Loire Valley. Built in the 12th century, today the abbey is one of the largest monastic compounds in all Europe and, more importantly for our purposes, the magical birthplace of the Fontevraud macaron. The pastry chefs at Les Douceurs du Terroir have revived this culinary tradition and make delicious macarons entirely by hand using only the finest ingredients: fresh-churned butter with the Charentes-Poitou AOP, traditional French flour (very rarely used in modern pastry), fresh free-range eggs... In the skilled hands of artisan chefs, these superb products are transformed into delectable macarons that will make your taste buds sing for joy. Gluten and lactose-free, they add a creative twist to the authenticity of traditional macarons for a truly unique flavour that will make you want to pack your bags for Anjou!
Box of 6 Quernons d'Ardoises, an Anjou speciality since 1966
Artisan: La Petite Marquise.
A gourmet box means gourmet goodies... and we've got another sweet surprise up our sleeves! These little cakes were invented when an artisan chocolatier discovered the region of Anjou and its typical slate-tiled rooftops. He created a tribute to local architecture, a sweet morsel the same shape and colour as those quernons d'ardoises or slate slabs, and the result is, in a word, delightful. Imagine a succulent filling of caramelized hazelnuts and almonds wrapped in a delicate casing of bluish-grey chocolate, and you have the Quernon d'Ardoise: a “slate slab” of crunchy, creamy sweetness that will make your taste buds hit the roof. The world's greatest chocolate connoisseurs have been singing its praises for half a century—time to join the chorus!
Tisane du Bonheur in bags (25 g)
Producer: Jérôme ALLAIN, alias « Le cultivateur en herbes ».
Finally, if you're feeling a bit stuffed after all these rich delicacies, there's nothing more soothing than a steaming cup of tisane...especially if it’s a recipe for bonheur, the French word for happiness! The herbs in this mixture were grown and prepared by Jérôme Allain, a man with a true passion for agrobiology who cultivates his crops according to a quality chart drawn up by the region's leading producers. These "herbs of happiness" contain five different plants grown in Anjou: first camomile, typical of this region, then spearmint, lemon balm, lime blossom and Gallic rose petals. The flavourful, balanced blend is perfect for steeping and sipping at any time of day, thanks to its calming and digestive properties. Some natural healers have recommended this tisane as a remedy for sadness, claiming that it would restore happiness... Why not try it and see for yourself?