The Loire Valley and ‘le Calabash’ an outstanding culinary destination.

Finesse rather than fireworks marks the gastronomy of this gentle, lovely region, known for exceptional white wines, delicate fish, and France’s most bountiful fruits and vegetables. At le Calabash we are always asked, why have you chosen this area to setup ‘le Calabash’ and our answer is simply, it is Europe’s most unspoilt, undiscovered and fastest moving Culinary Destination. Putting aside some of the most beautiful countryside, architecture and history, we have so much to offer the Culinary Adventurer. The Loire boasts of the finest wines and sparkling wines in the world. Truffle and Saffron production is on an astronomic increase. Poultry, Pork, Beef and now Lamb is of the best in Europe. As the Loire valley borders the Atlantic, we have some of the finest Oysters and Mussels to be found on the continent. The Loire Valley is known as France’s Bread Basket, and this is evident throughout the year with wonderful Asparagus, Berries, Fruit, Vegetables and our Cheese Production is second to none.

12096607_10154230570149796_3082739134392063824_n

What we have to offer our guests is an opportunity to enjoy and experience cooking in a Culinary environment second to none !

A Culinary Tour of France

 

COMING SOON! A Culinary Tour of France with le Calabash.

Le Calabash takes you on an exclusive Culinary Adventure through France’s finest food, wine and cultural regions. Come and enjoy a second to none gourmet experience, learning skills and techniques through hands on cooking classes with award winning chefs and visits to the markets.

PicMonkey Collage.png

Indulge in classic French cuisine and dine at Michelin-star restaurants. Discover wine estates, taste some of France’s most celebrated wines and sample regional specialities. Experience many of France’s most well-known attractions including le Mont Saint Michel, the Eiffel Tower, les Châteaux de la Loire, the Medieval town of Carcassonne and top cities such as Bordeaux, Nice, Paris, Bayeux, Lyon… To include dining at le Train Bleu, Paul Bocuse, Gordon Ramsay, the Old Stable.

A journey through France that will leave you with many special memories.

The beautiful historic city of Tours

On a Culinary Adventure with le Calabash we visit the beautiful historic city of Tours where you will explore both the indoor ‘Les Halles’ food market and the twice weekly outdoor market, you will amazed by all the incredible fresh and local products.

EN8_9517

EN8_9528

We visit the old town which clusters around place Plumereau; its old houses restored to their former glory. Today this is the place for pavement cafes and people watching in the summer. Stroll the smaller, narrow streets like rue Briçonnet and you step back into the historic medieval city. To the south you’ll find a Romanesque basilica, the Cloitre de St-Martin and the new Basilique de St-Martin. You’re in the place which was once on the great pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. St-Martin was a soldier who became bishop of Tours in the 4th century and helped spread Christianity through France. His remains, rediscovered in 1860, are now in the crypt of the new Basilique.

plumereau_haute_def_0


The other old part, the cathedral quarter, on the other side of the main Rue Nationale, is dominated by the Cathédrale St-Gatien, a flamboyant Gothic building with 12th-century decorated stonework covering the outside. Inside the highlights are the 16th-century tomb of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne’s two children, and the stunning stained glass.

EN8_9416

EN8_9426

bonds@lecalabash.fr | http://www.lecalabash.com 

An African Culinary Adventure

IMG_0304.JPG

This was our first le Calabash ‘An African Culinary Adventure’ group and since then we have taken nine groups on this adventure to Cape Town? South Africa and Namibia, where we Cook with Local Chefs, over the coals and under the African Stars. We visit the world’s most natural Game Reserve, Etosha, track Cheetah on foot and enjoy the local culture and culinary offering. All four adventures to Africa are fully booked and we are about to publish our 2017 dates.

The 2017 itinerary will be extended by two days and a Fly-in Safari to Sossusvlie and Seriem Canyon


Sossusvlei has monumentally high dunes; their sinuous crests and warm colours changing as the day waxes and wanes. These gigantic star-shaped mountains of sand are formed by strong multi-directional winds; they are at their highest and most spectacular where the west-flowing Tsauchab River empties itself into the Vlei.

sousssulei

The warm tints of the sand, ranging from apricot to orange, red and maroon, contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the large deflationary clay pans at their bases. When it has rained sufficiently in the interior for the Tsauchab River to come down and fill the main pan, flamingos and other aquatic birds are drawn to the area.


SESRIEM CANYON

At the park entrance to Sossusvlei is Sesriem Canyon, where centuries of erosion have incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down 30 to 40 m, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Sesriem derives its name from the time when early pioneers tied six lengths of rawhide thongs together to draw water from the pools.

12509168_10154148243259796_5719373536673052394_n.jpg

 

 

Experiencing an African Culinary Adventure with Le Calabash, by Bryan Richards

It’s funny how a bowl of fried mopane worms can make a dinner table full of adults giggle like schoolchildren. As the bowl passed around the table at Xwama, a restaurant in Windhoek, Namibia featuring traditional dishes, taunts of “you eat one” were followed by retorts of “no, you eat one.” It seemed like everyone had succumbed to playground antics of daring one another to stick their tongues on a metal flagpole. I think that I even heard a, “I double dog dare you…”

When the bowl finally made its way to me, there was no hesitation. No taunt was necessary. I quickly popped one of the worms into my mouth and bit down. It was crunchy, chewy, and spicy all at once. While this was by far the most outlandish thing that we ate on our African Culinary Adventure with Le Calabash, it highlighted why we had chosen more of a food focused vacation for our African odyssey. We desired a tour that offered not only safari related activities but also a cultural experience.

African Culinary Adventure

Majestic in the best word I can think of to describe the vineyards surrounding Cape Town, which is where we spent the first three nights of our African Culinary Adventure. I couldn’t help but to pass countless hours on our hotel room terrace at Zevenwacht Wine Estate looking out at the lush, green vineyards as they rolled up to the faded mountains in the distance and onto the bright blue sky. I find a peace in vineyards much like others find peace through the crashing ocean surf. Of course, a glass of Cape Town’s famed Pinotage does help to achieve that sense of nirvana…

Table Mountain, Cape Town

The natural abundance of the fair cape and the various cultures that influence her have cultivated a cuisine that is both diverse and world class. Chefs Sidney and Alison Bond who lead the tour make sure that you try it all from the welcome dinner of a traditional South African Braai to classic French and Dutch cuisines found in Franschhoek.

The tour also includes stops at some of Cape Town’s top attractions like Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront. There are also plenty of winery visits along the way to sample the best of the growing viticulture region.

Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa

The Journey Continues with a Safari in Namibia

Words can’t describe the experience of a safari, which is why once you go on one you know it won’t be your last. From the first giraffe you spot on the ride to Etosha National Park to the pride of lions stalking their prey, you develop a deep-rooted addiction to see and experience more. A favorite experience was watching a pack of over fifty elephants descend upon a watering hole. We watched for over an hour as both children and adults alike splashed in their afternoon refreshment.

Elephants at a Watering Hole in Etosha National Park

An African Culinary Adventure also visits the Africat Foundation. Africat’s mission is to “strive towards the long term survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat.” Here, you’ll get so see some of the harder to spot big cats like cheetahs and leopards as they are rehabilitated for release back into the wild.

Leopard at Play at AfriCat

All the excitement works up an appetite that finishes in a lesson on how to cook wild game. It’s the perfect conclusion to an African Culinary Adventure and the journey of a lifetime.

Bryan Richards is a food, travel, and craft beer writer. He has a passion for exploring regional food and drink and enjoys encouraging readers to discover new places and tastes in a way that inspires curiosity and motivation. For more info, please visit The Wandering Gourmand.

Dreaming of Le Calabash, by Lizzy W.

I woke up this morning with a really bad travel itch, and it set me back to the last trip I took in France.  It has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to go to culinary school of some sort.  About 2 years ago I attended Le Calabash, a cooking school in the Loire Valley in France, and since then my passion has only grown stronger.  It was one of the best experiences of my life – I still can’t believe I traveled there alone to do it, my very first time out of the country.

Buildings out of a dream

It all started when I stumbled across a site called “The International Kitchen“, and saw that you could book one week culinary trips to just about anywhere around the world.  When I read all the reviews, it was clear if I was going alone, I was going to go to Le Calabash.  Every piece of advice I read talked about how kind Sydney and Allison were, and that as soon as you arrived you felt like you were at home – and that is EXACTLY how I felt.  It has been two years since Sid picked me up from the train station in Tours, and we made that 20 minute drive to the Relais Manor Housein Yzeures sur Creuse.

Duck in orange grand marnier sauce

It’s one of the oldest towns in that province, and there is less than 1500 inhabitants within the region.  We had the afternoon to get settled in, jog by the creek, and discover the town (it was really cool, it’s almost as if it had been frozen in time).  When I think back on it now, it almost seems like a dream, everything was just so perfect.  It was 6 days of sunrise to sunset cooking, sightseeing, market tours, dinners out in different towns, and a group of people I would never forget.  Every morning we woke up, piled into their vans, and made the 3 minute drive down to the school, gourmet breakfast waiting.  Fresh baguettes, Allison’s croissants, jams, fresh cheese from the dairy farms, yogurt, meats, eggs… I could keep going but I’m making myself hungry.  Our days were filled with endless recipes, eating, laughing… I can’t describe how much I miss it!  I even got sick the second to last night, and sweet Allison took me in to her house from the hotel, and watched over me in their guest bedroom.  Like I said, as soon as you arrive it’s like you are family.

castle selfie

I highly suggest if you ever want to do a culinary vacation of some kind, this is the one to take.  It was one of the most breathtaking trips I have ever been on, and I learned more than I ever thought I could.  Until next time, I’ll reminisce about the amazing Loire Valley.

chocolate souffle - it didn't fall!

amazing beef and polenta

Amazing farmers market

Le calabash

Produce Market