6 specialties from Nouvelle-Aquitaines Dordogne

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NOUVELLE-AQUITANE, FRANCE – This region might be best known for its quality Bordeaux wines, but its food is an epicurean’s paradise. To the east of Bordeaux, the department of Dordogne (historically known as Périgord) is best known for its gourmet foods. With more than 2,000 years of history and numerous regionally protected products, there’s a plethora of choices to keep any food lover happy.

Truffles: Native to the Dordogne, the black Périgord truffle is coveted by gourmands worldwide for its complex aroma. From November to March, the expensive delicacy can be purchased for a fair price from Perigueux’s Place St-Louis market and Sarlat’s Saturday market. Connoisseurs of the black diamond are known to visit Sorges, about 19 kilometres northeast of Perigueux, to learn about the fungus at its charming truffle ecomuseum and area truffle farms. Or attend Sarlat’s truffle festival on the third weekend of January.

Foie gras: Despite its controversy, the traditional skill of force-feeding geese and ducks is still practised in Périgord and remains part of the department’s identity. Foie gras, a.k.a., fattened goose or duck liver, is served at most restaurants and found in specialty shops in Sarlat. There’s even a Route de Foie Gras for those wishing to meet the more than 60 producers of the specialty. Look for products labelled “Indication géographique protégée” (IGP) which guarantees the high quality product is strictly from Périgord.

Dordogne strawberries: Delicate, candy-sweet and a treasure of the region, the excellent, large-fleshed Dordogne strawberries are the only strawberries protected by the IGP geographic status. Thanks to ideal temperatures and soils, the region enjoys a long season that lasts from April to October. The main strawberry varieties, including Gariguette and Darselect in the spring, and Mara des Bois and Charlotte in the fall, can be found at most markets.

Traditional macarons: Ursuline nuns brought the traditional macaron to Saint-Émilion in the early 17th century. Although they’re made with the same ingredients — egg whites, sugar and almond flour — as their gussied-up sandwiched Parisian cousins, the rustic confection is chewier, straddling a soft biscotti and almond cake. Many shops sell traditional macarons, but the original recipe (a carefully guarded secret that’s only passed down to the business’ successor) is only available at Les Macarons de Saint-Emilion.

Caviar: A pioneer in river sturgeon breeding in Aquitaine, Domaine Huso in Neuvic sur I’Isle is one of three production sites in the Dordogne that specialize in high-quality caviar. Using methods that create minimal environmental impact, the prestigious products are processed and packaged, then marketed as Caviar de Neuvic. The 7.6-hecatre farm is open to visitors seven days a week. Tours of the facilities (that concludes with a caviar tasting) are available, but pre-booking is required.

Walnuts: Since the Paleolithic era (with evidence found in Cro-Magnon habitations from 17,000 years ago), walnuts have been widely celebrated for its many uses. At area ecomuseums or walnut-oil mills including Moulin de la Veyssière, you’ll find products such as vin de noix, a sweet and rich liqueur made from the green nuts, walnut flour, and walnut oil that’s been pressed from cooked nutmeal. For quality and authenticity, look for appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC)-certified Périgord walnuts.

Credit/Source: Info-Europa.com

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Black Diamonds – Black Gold !

I recently attended a truffle festival, since I really wanted to know if they really smell like what I had heard – like dirty sweaty feet! Sure enough there were tables galore with vendors selling their black gold, so I asked one vendor if I could smell one of ‘her’ truffles. I was very surprised that it didn’t really smell at all (certainly not like dirty socks), but I did order an omelette with truffles for lunch and wow – the taste of the grated truffle was pungent! At 120E for 100 grams, truffles are worth their weight in gold!

There were vendors selling other items: ceramics, food & drinks, with attendees enjoying the day hosted by a local 4* hotel/restaurant called, “La Bastide Saint Antoine.” As I walked around the beautiful grounds, I was amused by the posters displayed from the past years’ truffle festivals (one rather risque from 2003!), as well as watching a truffle hunting dog demonstration – I wondered, though, where was the pig?  Maybe next year!

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Seven Minute Choco-Almond Truffles

Seven minute Choco-Almond Truffles
Makes 15-20

15 large medjool dates, pitted
100 g dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
100 g raw almonds or nuts of choice
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, room temperature
4 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute or until it forms up like a ball. Remove the knife blades from the food processor. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Then form 15 – 20 small round truffles with your hands; they should be half the size of a golf ball. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder, finely chopped almonds, shredded coconut or rolledoats. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

If you do not have a strong food processor or blender, just place your pitted dates on a plate and mash with a fork until they are sticky and smooth as caramel. Then add the rest of the ingredients and knead by hand until well combined. Place in the fridge and follow the steps above.

Source/Link/Photo:  Green Kitchen Stories