La Route du Poiré -
the Perry and Cider Route of Normandy
While cleaning one of the guest bedrooms today my eye was caught by the spectacular blossom on the fruit trees this year – there’s an apple tree outside the Cream bedroom window and there are others – pear, apple, cherry, plum – scattered around the gardens.
Apple Tree from Cream Bedroom Window
This reminded me that this is a great time of year to make a tour of the “Route du Poiré” or the Pear Cider Trail in the south-east of Normandy. The apple and pear orchards are full of blossom at this time of year, positively humming with honey bees doing the work of pollinating the countless flowers to produce fruit which will later be turned into perry and cider, fruit juice and calvados, aperitifs and liqueurs.
For anyone visiting the area at this time the Route du Poiré makes a great day touring by car, taking in the wonderful countryside and chancing to stop and sample last year’s fruity liquid harvest at the farm gate. Perry or cider, or maybe a drop of apple brandy for the passengers, and refreshing apple and pear juice for the driver, of course!
Route du Poiré, the "Perry" trail
The Route du Poiré offers a unique landscape of pear orchards with full size trees – not the dwarf varieties that are often cultivated elsewhere – and an opportunity to meet local producers of these traditional Normandy drinks.
Part way along the Pear Trail at Barenton “La Maison de la Pomme et de la Poire” nestles in a grove surrounded by pear orchards; this visitor centre is housed in an old farmhouse, and shows the various stages of fruit cultivation and cider and calvados production as well as offering tastings.
Pear Espailier on the Barn Wall of La Basse Cour
If you’re planning to see the fruit blossom, don’t leave it too long – it’ll all be over in a few short weeks!
Bed and Breakfast Accommodation in Southern Normandy/Pays de la Loire
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It’s been chilly here – in fact, it was ten degrees below last night! At times like these it’s nice to have something to keep us warm inside – you’ve probably tried mulled wine (red wine, sugar and a sachet of spices heated and drunk warm) but have you ever had hot mulled cider?
Hot and spicy, mulled cider is a great alternative to the usual winter warmers. It makes a perfect drink on return from a walk in the snow, to sip in front of a crackling log fire on a cold winter’s night, or curled up on the sofa in front of the telly – any excuse, really! And unlike other winter drinks such as mulled wine, eggnog or rum toddy, it needs no added sugar unless you have a sweet tooth.
Here’s the recipe – go on, enjoy! And while you’re on, why not try super-quick, easy-to-make spicy baked apples?
Mulled Cider With Calvados
Ingredients (makes about a litre)
- Half litre dry cider
- 125ml calvados (apple brandy)
- Half litre apple juice
- Thinly pared rind of one half lemon
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- Put the cider and apple juice in a large pan, together with the lemon rind, cinnamon and cloves.
- Bring to simmer, without allowing the mixture to boil, for 10 minutes.
- Add the calvados.
- Sieve or otherwise discard the cloves, cinnamon and lemon rind.
- Taste, adding a little extra sugar if you think it needs it.
- Serve in heat resistant glasses or cups.
What about spicy-baked apples as a quick and easy accompaniment for supper?
- 2 apples
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tablespoons dry cider
- Core the apples.
- Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
- Spoon the sugar mixture into the apples and pour cider over.
- Place the apples in a deep casserole dish and cover.
- Microwave for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes or until tender.
- Let the apples sit for a couple minutes before serving.
To serve, top the apples with cream or pour over some mulled cider.
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