Whilst the selection of locally grown fruit and vegetables varies according to season, confit de canard and foie gras are in constant supply. Obvious accompaniments are truffles and walnuts – both readily available in this part of France. The Bergerac wine region ensures there is something good to drink as well.
Confit de canard – a French delicacy that involves preserving duck legs in fat and salt until such time as the meat is fried with some of the fat used to seal it into its tin or jar. The skin is crispy and the meat deliciously tender and flaky, Perfect with a small pile of potatoes and some mushrooms fried in the same fat.
In Sarlat, potatoes and mushrooms are fried in duck fat and sold at the market as Sarladais potatoes. They are ready to eat and served with geziers (gizzards) or canard roti (roast duck). The dish is also listed as part of a typical Périgordian menu offered by local restaurants.
Foie gras – driving in the Périgord Noir, signs advertising the fabrication and vente directe de foie gras are impossible to ignore. Occasionally, you will also come across geese kept outside in pens. The same producers also attend markets and supply shops in the local area.
Ducks, as well as geese, are farmed for foie gras. The fattened liver from these birds can be bought entier (whole) or incorporated into a pâté, perhaps with morceaux (bits). This latter option is far less expensive than the first. Fig or onion chutney and toasted brioche complement foie gras.
Périgord truffles – also known as ‘black diamonds’ for their rarity and prices fetched. The fungi are notoriously hard to find, even with a sniffer dog. Those that are uncovered change hands at dedicated truffle markets held in the Dordogne from the end of November until around mid-March.
However, most tourists do not arrive until summer, when truffles are no longer in season. In the absence of fresh truffles, truffle oil will give gourmets a hint of what they’re missing. Chocolate and truffle sponge cake may appeal to those with a sweet tooth and there is also a truffle flavoured apéritif to try.
Walnuts – the Périgord variety may be small, but they are packed full of flavour. In their shells, out of their shells, coated in praline, turned into nougatine or pressed for their oil, these walnuts are a versatile ingredient and a nice gift to bring home from holiday too.
Wine – it is thanks to the River Dordogne that the area around Bergerac is so well suited to growing grapes. The wines produced from vineyards on both sides of the river have 13 AOC labels between them for red, white and rosé varieties. Pécharmant (red) is easily the most recognisable.