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The good taste of the local land

Unusual visits of Philomène #3: Candlemas and Song of Wheat

Little tasty happiness

Just the once won’t hurt, today my visit is unusual, of course but especially gourmet!

There is a date to be marked with a red pen in your agenda:

February 2nd! So, indeed, just like that, I can imagine that many of you are wondering about this famous date!

Two clues: It is one of the little joys in winter and lots of childhood memories that resurface.

You still can’t see?

I’m referring to CANDLEMAS.

This day so much appreciated by gourmets, young and old where tradition wants us to eat pancakes. Yes, tradition sometimes has its good points!

Religious celebration for some, of pagan origin for others, it was still at the time of our great-grandparents, surrounded by many superstitions and it was told that for the Candlemas, so that the coming year is prosperous in each house, one had to make pancakes without forgetting to toss the first one with the right hand, a penny in the left hand. In the depths of despair for the butterfingers who saw prosperity leaving away as soon as the precious disk touched the ground!

So, if today superstitions have disappeared, the pancakes are still present for our great happiness.

And believe me, I really intend to respect the tradition this year again!

The farm of the Gros Buisson

Here I am on the way to the farm of Gros Buisson in Saint-Epain, a charming little village located just a few kilometres from Sainte-Maure de Touraine. On the way, I pass the incredible ruins of the Montgoger’s castle.

But why, you will tell me and what is the relation to the pancakes?

The answer is very simple:

Fresh flour and artisanal milling

Because it is at the farm of the Gros Buisson, at Véronique Léger that I will find freshly ground flour.

Pascal and Véronique Léger have been cereal growers in Saint-Epain for more than 25 years. They own 110 hectares of land on which hard and soft wheat, barley, colza, sunflower, oats, clover and lucerne are produced. They have diversified into saffron production for some years. They put forward a reasoned peasant agriculture and for production they use the techniques of conservation agriculture (of the soil). There, Véronique explains to me the whole importance of the culture rotation in order not to impoverish the soil. Later she explains me the plant cover which consists in growing “companion” plants, mostly legumes which will enrich the soil with nitrogen, limit the spread of weeds and create confusion among the predators.

And from their precious wheat harvest, every year, about 10 tons are kept in the farm to get processed on site into fresh flour or used for salted or sweetened preparations by Véronique who decided to get involved into artisanal milling in 2011.

And from their precious wheat harvest, every year, about 10 tons are kept in the farm to get processed on site into fresh flour or used for salted or sweetened preparations by Véronique who decided to get involved into artisanal milling in 2011.

Her Tyrol mill with millstone allows her to produce 70 kg of flour per hour. Whole wheat or semi-whole wheat flour or white flour that are freshly ground, keep all their nutritional and taste values. That makes them as excellent products. Now you understand why I wanted to go to the farm of Gros Buisson. To make good pancakes, we use fresh eggs, so why not fresh flour?

Leaving the mill, I continue my visit accompanied by Véronique who opens the doors of her pretty shop to me. Aladdin’s cave of home-made pastry! Pleasure for eyes and taste buds guaranteed!

Sachet of fresh flour, salted or sweetened preparations, oils (from the oil factory Délices des Champs), biscuits, jams (from Mille et une Confitures), honey jars and saffron are aligned with care. It is almost the whole land which is displayed on the shelves of the small shop.

Local land on the way

A bottle draws my attention. I read on the label “saffron syrup”. This is the syrup that Véronique uses to concoct her home-made aperitif “safrandisiaque”, the one she serves to the lucky participants of riddle walks every Thursday from June. Riddle walks, like Escape Game but in the open air where old and young are taken on the bucolic paths of the property to discover the local heritage, the local land products and the farming profession and close down with a gourmet snack or aperitif.

These riddle walks, off the beaten track and on the fringe of the Loire castle circuits, are the opportunity to discover the local land and the people who make it live. There are also privileged moments for Pascal and Véronique who enjoy sharing their passion and their working methods. In April, every year, they welcome a still growing number of visitors during the open day “Welcome to the Farm” with enthusiasm.

Me too, I will return to visit Véronique in the Spring, for sure. I will take the opportunity to discover the Courtineau Valley, a few kilometres away and walk in the nice streets of Crissay-sur-Manse, one of the most beautiful villages of France.

In the meantime, I leave the farm of Gros Buisson with the precious treasure, a sachet of whole wheat flour, and confident to succeed my pancakes, nevertheless crossing the fingers so that the first pancake does not touch the ground!

My B

Practical information

Chant de Blé

Véronique et Pascal Léger

Ferme du Gros Buisson

Route de Thilouze

37 800 Saint-Epain

06 47 70 47 11   / 02 47 65 81 49

www.chantdeble.fr

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