Jul 1, 2009

September in the Loire Valley: A Superb Tomato Festival

Tomatoes grown at Château La BourdaisièreTomato lovers, take note: the 11th annual Fêtes des Tomates (Tomato Festival) will be held September 12-13, 2009 on the grounds of the lovely 16th century Château La Bourdaisière, in Mountlouis-sur-Loire. Owned by Prince Louis Albert de Broglie (a.k.a. "The Garden Prince"), the château's unique tomato conservatory features over 630 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in every imaginable size, shape, and color. De Broglie—a passionate gardener—has been collecting tomato seeds since 1995, searching out unique varietals in markets around the world to plant in his garden. The festival's theme this year is 'La tomate pour la santé!' ('Tomato for the health') and features tomato tastings, biodynamic gardening classes, and guided tours of the gardens and conservatories (one for tomatoes and one for medicinal plants).

Château La BourdaisièreThis year's festival will also feature a special "Dahliacolor" exhibit, debuting a brand new garden with over 100 varieties of dahlias. Festival-goers can purchase a variety of tomato-based items: books for the gardener and the chef, chutneys, soaps, and even a special line of tomato-based cosmetics from Ella Baché and Clarins. This year's festival will launch a new series of cooking classes taught by Chef Randall Price, former resident chef at La Varenne École de Cuisine. Chef Price will create garden-inspired seasonal menus and instruct students in lively hands-on classes in the château's kitchen. Afterwards, students will enjoy the fruits of their labors at a sit-down lunch (or dinner).

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