02 July 2012

Lunch at the Château de Montpoupon

We had a delicious lunch at the Auberge du Château yesterday, and then we spent a nice couple of hours looking around inside the Château de Montpoupon itself and the museum exhibits housed in the château's outbuildings. Montpoupon is known as a hunting lodge, and the museum exhibits focus on hunting.

Let me start with the lunch, since that's where we started. First, we were the restaurant's only customers. One table of four, set amid the other 20 or so tables — empty — in the room. One good thing about having the place to ourselves: the service was excellent — attentive, efficient, and friendly. One of the servers was a young Lithuanian woman who spoke better English than French. The other woman spoke French, but I'm not sure it was her native language.

The Château de Montpoupon, near the towns of Saint-Aignan,
Montrichard, and Loches in Touraine (Loire Valley)


The chef, Marc Hammani, came out into the dining room and talked to us quite a bit. He spoke French, but when he realized we were American he switched over to English too. He told us that he worked in the Miami area (South Beach) in Florida for five years. He mentioned the Hilton Hotels. He said that yesterday, July 1, was a "transition day" in France, when people are traveling but haven't yet arrived, which explained the lack of customers. He also said he had a lot of reservations for the evening meal. Hammani has been at Montpoupon for just a year now.

The restaurant called L'Auberge du Château is in an old
farmhouse on the grounds at Montpoupon.


We decided not to have a full menu for lunch — we've been feeding ourselves well since last Thursday evening, when Jill and Peter arrived — but to have just a starter and a main course instead, followed by coffee and just one dessert for the table. We also had a bottle of local white Sauvignon wine with our starter courses, and then a bottle of red Bourgueil (Cab. Franc) wine with the plats principaux.

Lobster bisque with a spoonful of caviar

Peter had a starter of foie gras served as a sort of little sandwich, with a glass of coarsely pureed rhubarb. Then he had a main course of sweetbreads. He's going to give me some pictures this morning, and I'll post them tomorrow.

Pureed sun-dried tomatoes served on a seeded cracker
as an amuse-bouche

The meal also included two little amuse-bouche dishes, which we all had with our white wine as we waited for the first courses to come out of the kitchen. An amuse-bouche is a small plate of food designed to whet your appetite and "amuse your mouth" (Fr. bouche). The two that we had were a dollop of pureed sun-dried tomatoes on a cracker, and a little dish of lobster bisque with a small spoonful of caviar floating on top.

A first course of lightly smoked salmon,
crème fraiche
, blinis, and vodka


Jill, Walt, and I chose a starter course of lightly smoked salmon. Chef Hammani said the salmon was cured in salt and sugar for four days, and then smoked for only three minutes. Whatever the process, it was excellent — mild, tender, moelleux, only slightly salty, and hardly smokey at all. It was served with a couple of little blinis, a quenelle ("dumpling") of crème fraîche, and a little glass of ice-cold, citrus-flavored vodka. It was, as they say, très fin — very refined.

More tomorrow...

10 comments:

  1. This is the second good report I have read about the Auberge in the last week......looks like it's an absolute must for us to try.

    The château always looks so spectacular as you approach it with the road sweeping by I think.

    Mind you I would have been tempted to build it further from a busy main road myself !!!!

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  2. Looks like you had as good a meal as we did :-)

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  3. Antoinette and Niall, your review was definitely a factor in our decision to have lunch at Montpoupon. Thanks. It was delicious, and we were lunching with a food pro.

    Jean, I wonder if the modern highway followed the track of an old gravel or dirt road. When the traffic passing was people on foot or horse-drawn carriages, I guess having the road so close to the château wasn't a big deal. It was probably pretty convenient for getting to Montrichard or Loches. The food was very good and we'll go back for sure.

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  4. I'm glad you had your camera so we could come along for this meal. What flowers are those in your photos? Does this restaurant have a Michelin star? It looks like that sort of place to me.

    I hope the rhubarb wasn't too tart!

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  5. I sure am glad I just ate lunch, otherwise I'd be eating my heart out. The meal looks and sounds mouth-watering, and what a beautiful setting.

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  6. Since Peter is from California, I wonder what he thinks of the new law banning the production and sale of foie gras in the state

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  7. The food looks amazing. Small world that the chef used to cook in South Beach.

    The Beaver beat me to it. I was also going to mention the ban of foie gras in California which takes effect today.

    From what I understand the state had already banned veal production.

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  8. Every time I see raw fish, I cringe. And then I remember a dinner on la Tour Eiffel and how good it was.

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  9. That lobster bisque is beautiful! And I am afraid, being a crass américaine, that the chateau's name brings to mind a certain television commercial that we all know and mock. [hangs head in shame]

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  10. Evelyn, no Michelin star that I'm aware of. But deserving of one, I think.

    Beaver, Peter had the foie gras because it will be difficult to find in Calif. now.

    Emm, it is a funny coincidence. We weren't served any mustard or mustardy sauces...

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