28 October 2008

Romorantin's Journées gastronomiques

Our local newspaper is called La Nouvelle République. It's published in Tours, and it has different editions for different départements in our region.

The article below is about a food festival last weekend over in Romorantin, which everybody here calls "Romo" and which is about 20 miles northeast of Saint-Aignan. Romo is the largest town (pop. 20,000) in the region called La Sologne, which is a flat, sandy area of pine forests and small lakes. La Sologne is known for game animals and hunting, along with asparagus, strawberries, and some of the most famous châteaux of the Loire Valley — Chambord, Cheverny, and others.
Loir-et-Cher — Local happenings
A Blend of Sologne and Portuguese Flavors in Romo
After the success of the 2007 event featuring the food of Martinique, just as many attend the Portuguese festival.

High attendance marked Romorantin’s 31st Food Festival. The local Portuguese community got involved to organize the celebration, and were successful.

Re-energized by the success of the Martinique celebration last year, the Food Festival was faced with the challenge of matching 2007's attendance figures. The organizers placed their bets on Portugal, calling on local associations and the Portuguese community, a long-time presence in the Sologne and the Cher Valley.
Portuguese dance troupes entertain crowds at Romo's food fest.
Thanks to La Nouvelle République for the photo.
“People really turned out. We are very pleased,” said Antonio Azevedo of the “Friends of Portugal” association yesterday.

“We hadn’t attended in a long time. This year was better than ever: lively, festive, fun,” said Claude and Alain Benoît from Palluau-sur-Indre. They were munching on chorizo and shrimp croquettes, the ubiquitous salt cod, and “natas” for dessert.

“We are proud for Portugal to be so honored,” said Marie and Isabelle de Jesus.

They are sisters, Romorantin natives of Portuguese background. “The community turned out in mass. There was a festive atmosphere in the streets thanks to dance troupes. The bigtop where Portuguese products were on sale was not as much fun as last year’s, though. But that’s how Portuguese people are. We aren’t like people from the islands.”

“The cultures are different. You can’t compare them,” said Laetitia and Catherine, attending with 2-year-old Mathys and 6-year-old Manon. “At any rate, this gave us a chance to experience something different — to feel like we were somewhere other than in the Sologne for a little while,” said Amandine Berry and Julien Duwicquet, forks in hand.

Construction hands
For the town of Romorantin, this 31st Food Festival was an occasion for reflecting on recent history, especially immigration trends from the 1950s to the 1970s, which brought in Portuguese farm, construction, and factory workers. The festival program featured a retrospective on the years when local and immigrant populations began to mix. There were concerts, lectures, slideshows, and story-telling sessions.

Next year, the Romorantin Food Festival will focus on Spain. It will be organized with the help of Romo’s new Spanish sister city, Aranda-de-Duero.
I found this web site for a Portuguese bakery in Los Angeles that describes the Protuguese "natas" pastry. It seems to be a little custard tart.

I enjoyed this sidebar, printed on the same page:
Bourges resident wins “best cook” prize
Victor Ostronzec carried the day in Romorantin.

Bourges resident Victor Ostronzec, 25, won the Robert-Guérin competition, which honors the best cook at the Romo Food Festival.
Thanks to La Nouvelle République for the photo.

Ostonzec works at the Saint-Ambroix abbey in Bourges. This was his first competition. “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “Intensive training over a month or more, with this help of the whole abbey team. My chef was always there to coach me.” Ostronzec won the competition with his saddle of wild hare. “I stuffed it with foie gras and garnished it with potatoes (or apples), carrots, and wild mushrooms. I served it with a small cabbage stuffed with truffles and a sauce made with the blood of the hare. Everything was carefully timed. An hour and a half to prepare a dish like this is really tight!”
I'm not sure whether the foie gras stuffing included potatoes or apples. The French just says « pommes » without specifying. I translated it as potatoes. The wild mushrooms the cook mentions are called trompettes-de-la-mort — "trumpets of death"— in French. I've never tried them. Would you? Maybe you know them by their English name, which is apparently "horn of plenty."

It seems like Walt and I went to the wrong festival. Romo's would have been more fun than Saint-Aignan's.


  1. Reading in French what Mr. Ostronzec had to say about the stuffing, I think he meant apples. He probably would have said "pommes de terre" if he meant potatoes. But, of course, there is still some ambiguity since people drop "de terre" as in "pommes frites". But since we don't usually fry apples, potatoes is what's comes naturally to mind in that case.

  2. Thanks, CHM. What made me say potatoes is that apples and carrots seem like an unusual combination, and especially with wild mushrooms. I wish we had gone to the festival in Romo to see what it actually was.

    Besides "pommes frites" you also say "pommes vapeur". But you are probably right about it being apples.

  3. My guess is apples, too. The taste and texture of those go with the other ingredients used, whereas potatoes wouldn't do so well.

    It sounds like a marvelous fair. Thanks for the report

  4. Thanks for the report. Be sure to put this on your calendar for next year!


  5. BettyAnn, I'm going to put it on next year's calendar.

    Emm, I don't know, potatoes go with everything. With carrots, for example. But apples and carrots? Maybe in a cake, minus the mushrooms.


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