Our close friends Sandra and Jim live a short drive from the lovely little village of Petit Pressigny notable for the beautiful river Aigronne and a Michelin starred restaurant La Promenade run by Jacky Dallais a well-known chef/restauranter in the Touraine were such skills are rightly revered. Julie and I have been in a permanent state of getting around to visiting, but cost and distant tend to conspire against us.
However once a year the restaurant team host a diner champêtre or open air diner for the local community and this year we decided to accompany our friends to what promised to be a culinary treat.
Diner champêtre’s tend to be held by all the villages and towns as part of the local fetes they range from quite simple affairs to potential quite gastronomic and are always good value. There’s no or very limited choice and to be honest it is not environment were vegetarians are going to thrive. As part of the fete entertainment is normally provided possibly a dance orchestra, singers or even a full cabaret complete with skimpy costumes, dodgy dancing and even dodgier singing, I won’t be giving out prizes if you guess which ones my favourite
If you visit the Touraine or any other area of France which are hosting a diner champêtre you really should go. You will be made very welcome; you will have a great time, meet some locals and experience a genuine piece of French life.
The diner champêtre at Petit Pressigny is a refined affair starting with a small but popular wine festival in the mid-afternoon. The festival consists of about 10 stalls offering a range of wines to sample and buy mostly from the Touraine area, which gave our little party an opportunity, purely in the name of research to sample a range of wines from some excellent producers.
After which we had a bit of a sit down by the river.
In the early evening we noticed the queue forming for diner, time to saunter over. Queuing for events like this is part of the experience, it gives you an opportunity to meet people, to chat and joke or catch up with friends. When you get served you will be served quite quickly but in the meantime enjoy another aperitif.
The service area is along line with many willing hands offering food and drink, but of course as the service was delivered by Jacky Dallias’s team the food is at a different level.
Pate Lapin avec Cornichons et Salade
Rosbif avec Purée du Pomme de Terre al à Ancienne
Café et Biscuit au Poitiers
A bottle of wine
A bottle of water
A souvenir wine glass
The pate lapin was excellent a great texture, moist and full of flavour, the richness balanced with the sharpness of the cornichon and the freshness of the salad.
The main course is served separately, a small team pulling beef from the oven, slice, slice on to the plate a couple of spoonful’s of pomme de terre, sauce and done.
As a Brit the French tease me about Rosbif, but the Promenade team showed how it should be done but it so rarely is. Moist succulent meat, potato puree that I think had been made with butter and cream to which had been added enough potato to hold the dish together and a sauce or gravy that had to have used alchemy to get that intensity of flavour.
The crème renversée had been pimped up! Using cream rather than milk and they had even bothered to use vanilla seeds rather than essence. Even more impressively they had properly aged the crème so that the caramel was liquid rather than thick and inadequate as is often the way when crème renversée is served.
We had a pair of strolling players singing French chanson’s, gypsy jazz or classic covers. I got Jim to sing much to the approval of the musician’s and surrounding diners. We had a perfect summers evening in convivial company with people I love, is there any way of beating that?
Well you can always go up for seconds!
Sometimes people ask me why I live in France, I don’t know really but I’m learning to cope.
And thinking frugally, how much did this evening cost; in total, 15 euros…..As I said Diner Champêtre often have good food, good times and good value make sure you go to one if you are ever get the chance.