Culinary black hole

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September 9th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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I didn't bother paying for the hostel's breakfast, since it's just the typical bread and cereal. I picked up some juice and yogurt yesterday for today and tomorrow. Lychee yogurt - good, but seemed slightly odd. The peach stuff was great - rich, creamy, and very peachy!
Geo: 47.3333, 1.06667

A bad sleep ... this place has the thinnest walls .... of course, my constant hacking probably disturbed my neighbours as much as they disturbed me! The problem is that I've essentially gone from a castle to ... shall we say ... something less regal? This hostel is actually great value - under 13-14 euros a night, for a private room.

Off to the chateau of Chenonceau - the audio tour is done on iPod; I need to stop getting audio guides. It's not often that I bother but when I do, I get sucked into listening boring things like "Look how exquisite the coffee table's legs are ..." ... zzzzz .... I was short on time, so I figured the audio guide would be a good way of organizing everything so that I could efficiently tour the chateau. Wrong!

The chateau wasn't as picturesque as the postcards would suggest, but it was an overcast day, and there were some renovations taking place. The interior was nothing special, and neither was the exterior, for that matter. The region is famous for chateaus, and Chenonceau is the third most visited one in all of France, behind Versailles and Fontainebleau, and many

Also a little bit of bread and cheese.
come to the region just to tour a number of Chateaus. One was more than enough for me.

Today was kind of a sad day ... knowing I was going to be in Paris at the end of my trip, I had contacted Emilie to see if she was going to be around. Unfortunately, she wasn't going to be, but she suggested meeting up with me in Amboise. But ... unfortunately, work came up, meaning she wouldn't be able to meet me in Amboise, after all 😞 Not meant to be!

Back to town by 13:00 - bus connections to and from Chenonceau are few, hence the early return. Of course, there wasn't a whole lot of interest in Chenonceau anyway, so there was no reason to stay there - back to town for a stroll and a snack.

Over to the youth centre from their free Internet to check train schedules. I ended up walking to the train station and buying my ticket for tomorrow, because the Internet schedules never quite seem to match what the train station will sell you, at least with the small towns. Traveling between some of these smaller French towns is odd in that way.

The walk from Chenonceaux (the town), to the Chateau of Chenonceau (don't know why, but they're spelled differently).
A quick nap before killing time at an Internet cafe, before looking for a place to eat dinner. I wanted to go for a bit of a walk, but there's really nowhere to stroll around Amboise.

A place called L'epicerie was recommended by the guidebook, and their menu looked pretty good, so I thought I'd give it a try. I walked in just ahead of a party of two, and was told that they were full. Full my ass!!! It was busy, but they saw more dollar signs walk in behind me. It's the curse of the single traveler, though I've only experienced it a few times. You already discriminate against us by sticking us in a crappy seat in the back, or next to the toilet, but must you also deny us the simple pleasure of even eating???

I think I'll have to start traveling with an inflatable doll, so the next time they tell me they are "full", I'll just say "my friend will be joining me shortly". Then we'll see how much they like watching my blow her up and sit her down next to me!

I ended up at Chez Bruno, where they didn't discriminate, but

The Chateau.
of course, they also weren't packed. Things started out well, with some nice, chewy bread, and a very nice cabernet. Many of the wines served here are homemade, but what I had wasn't. I think the label was Francois Pergernay or something similar, and it was very smooth. Overall, the food was pretty average, and I came to the realization that I'd fallen into a culinary black hole - after such excellent food in Sarlat, Amboise has fallen well short. How do I escape it???

As I left the restaurant, I thought of how much I miss the lively Spanish nights, with the beautiful, aimless walking. I miss the paseo!!! Though I tried again tonight, there just aren't any good walking areas here. Recently, there's been too much eating and too little activity - my pants are getting tight! Back at the hostel, many people were sitting in the cafeteria watching a French soccer match - I watched for a bit, then retired to my room for a bit of reading. Sigh ... how I miss my beloved Spain ...

Additional photos below
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Stained glass window in the chapel.

View of the Cher river.

The two golden interlaced 'C's you see on the fireplace is the symbol of Catherine de Medici. There was all kinds of drama here - Diane de Poitiers was the King's mistress and lived here until he died, when his wife Catherine kicked her out. Sounds like a soap opera!

In the kitchen - it looked a bit like a paella pan. Spain ... how I miss you ... sob sob ...

There are two gardens on either side of the castle, one was that of Diane de Poitiers, and the other was Catherine de Medici's.

I can't remember which was which.

Having two sandwiches with me, I thought it was only fair that I had one in each garden. Both ladies were obviously very competitive, and I didn't want to offend either of them.

I forgot I had some little tomatoes until I got to the second garden - they were only ok, not as yummy as the ones I bought in Barcelona. But perhaps they seemed extra tasty because of the company I had there?

Vineyard, on the way from the Chateau back to town.

Needing a pick-me-up, it was time for a cafe au lait that was VERY good. The accompanying apple beignet was ok, but there was too much sugar, and it was a bit greasy. They probably reheated it in the microwave, which didn't help. But still, it was nice just to sit at a cafe, enjoying all that French life has to offer. Amboise is pretty blah anyway, so it's a good excuse to chill.

Amboise has some beautiful spots, it's just that it isn't that interesting of a town.

I grabbed a quick peach and ate it on the river by the hostel - the location of the place could not be any more beautiful. The peach was juicy, but not very sweet.

Restaurant L'Epicerie - BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Over at Chez Bruno - I started with rillette, similar to pate, made with pork that is cooked in fat until very tender, and made into a bit of a paste. It wasn't too good. The little pickles served with it were crisp and a bit salty, but not tart like North American-style ones.

The wine went down WAY too easy, and was done before the first course was. Time for another!

The green beans were nice and garlicky, but mushy and overcooked. The scalloped potatoes were salty and rich, and also overcooked. The steak was surprisingly juicy given that it was so thin. It lacked salt and pepper. I later peeked into the kitchen and saw a number of plates sitting out, with only the sides ready, waiting for the main course to be cooked. I suspected that the side dishes were being microwaved.

Though full, I was hoping to redeem the meal by ordering an assortment of three cheeses. The best of the three were hard round discs, of what I think was goat cheese. One looked a bit like Camembert, but was very pungent, and not so good. I miss the Cabecou cheese of Sarlat!!! The final one was a bit like gruyere, a little powdery, but softer and tarter.

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