Thursday, July 6, 2017

Going to Amboise?

Amboise Sunday Market

We were told the Sunday market in Amboise was not to be missed. “You’ll find everything here. It’s one of the best in the Loire Valley.” We were also told to get there early.

So, we were prepared. Or, so we thought. Abundant doesn’t begin to describe the number of vendors. It was teeming with people, trucks, and their products. Hodgepodge…no. Diversity…yes.

Since we were early, we found a place to park…not an easy feat for those who came a half hour later. Trucks, vans, ovens, tables, and people as far as we could see. Deciding to pass by the first man handing out samples of horse sausage, we moved along through the rows of tables.  

Aromas from grilling meats and just baked baguettes mixed with pungent goat cheeses and spicy olives. It was heaven to stand and sniff. But, first…coffee and a pastry. Fresh, of course. What better way to people-watch?

Then, time to wander through all the market. Cashmere sweaters from Italy? Sure. Mounded high, red and white radishes complete with their green tops lent a festive air. White asparagus, in season, ranged in size from pencil-thin to cigar-fat. All looked delicious. Sausages, jambon, and meats of many kinds lined up next to fresh, ice-encrusted fish from Brittany, and winemakers offered us Vouvray wine from the area. Spices and fresh herbs vied for our attention as we moved along and eyed the plump, bright orange apricots and ruby red strawberries.

Need some clothespins? Take your pick from one of several booths. T-shirts, leather purses, jewelry, garden supplies, the latest invention for hoeing in your garden, furniture, kitchen gadgets of every possible kind…some you didn’t know you needed until you saw it…, and just about any piece of clothing all had their space.

A lady walked past carrying a large, brown box with holes in it. It was clucking. She had come from the end where vendors were selling live chickens and ducks. Not for eating, mind you. These were special, fancy-looking critters in a variety of colors and feathery top-knots. People bought these for eggs. And, every box that walked away was making a noise. The buyers looked happy.

Roasting meat smells drew us down another path, past the artichokes bigger than my head and fresh, purple-colored heads of garlic the size of apples. Here, four trucks lined the edges. Each truck was a portable rotisserie with five racks of chickens in each. Perfectly seasoned and browned chickens rotated slowly around as the vendor periodically inspected them for doneness. Did we drool? You bet.

Then, there was the Paella Guy. I’ve seen large paella pans. This one wasn’t even in the same playing field. At least four feet across, I’m not sure which was more impressive…the pan, the bubbling mixture, or the smells coming from the pan. We watched as he added rice and some more spices. Stirring it sent the delicious aromas into the air. He grinned when he heard us sigh. More drool.
Sadly, it was time to leave. We were loaded down with fresh bread, a variety of cheeses which we may or may not remember the names, enough radishes and leafy greens for a salad, spicy salami, and enough apricots and berries for both dessert and breakfast.

Were we glad we discovered this market? Oh yeah. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning on vacation.

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