Tarn Food & Drink
Truffles, Cepes, Wild Boar, Veal, Pink Garlic, Gaillac Wines, Echaud
Whatever food or drink you like, you will never be hungry or thirsty in the Tarn. Tarn specialities are wide-ranging and full of flavour. Why not try specialities such as Truffles, Cepes, Wild Boar, Veal, Pink Garlic,Echaudés Biscuits, Jambon de Lacaune, Pumpkin Pancakes, Cheeses which can all be accompanied by wines from Gaillac.
There are many talented cooks in the Tarn who will be happy to welcome you to their restaurants and ferme-auberges to show the diversity of the Tarn gastronomy.
The type of food and drink you can find in each area of Tarn is described below.
AROUND CORDES-SUR-CIEL AND CASTELNAU-DE-MONTMIRAIL
In the North, on the “Causses” (limestone plateau) around Cordes and Castelnau-de-Montmirail, the truffle oaks grow. The forests of Grésigne, Sivens and Bouysse are good places to pick up mushrooms (ceps), reponchons and, for the more daring, hunting wild boars. Le Civet de Sanglier (wild boar stew) is a local speciality. In Cordes, you will find the almond Croquant biscuits and, as in most of the South-West France, there are a number of goose and duck farms in the area.
In the north-east, in the Segala region, where rye used to grow, they now specialise in the veal of Aveyron and Ségala and, according to the French, it is one of the best meats you can find. Blanquette de veau is actually the favourite dish in France. For cheese lovers, there are several ewe milk cheeses and yogurts you can taste and buy in the local markets.
In Central Tarn, in the Tarn and Agout valleys, fruits and vegetables grow easily thanks to a sunny and sufficiently wet climate. The specialities are strawberries and cherries (fraises et cerises de Burlats), apples (pommes de Castelnau-de-Levis), onions (oignon de Lescure) and garlic (ail de Lautrec). Lautrec is also famous for its flour mill and bread. The Gaillac vineyards are devoted to Gaillac wines. But a little north some Eau-de-Vie and Liqueurs are distilled in the traditional way in Villeneuve-sur-Vere and served in the best French restaurants.
In the capital Albi, you can find local biscuits made with traditional recipes. If you like aniseed, the Echaudés biscuits are a speciality you will enjoy. Cabitous, a travelling patissier from Albi, baked them in the middle-ages. Apparently this biscuit was found in the sarcophagus of the Egyptian pyramids.
MONT DE LACAUNE
In the South-east, on the Mont de Lacaune, pork breeding is highly developed. The most famous end-product is La Bonheta and Jambon de Lacaune (Label Rouge: a guarantee of quality). But ovine and bovine farms allow for the production of cheeses such as Blanche d’Oc, Mont de Saint-Pierre, Mont de Lacaune and curd cheese.
In the south, the forest of Montagne Noire abounds with chestnuts and mushrooms.
In Castres, a local speciality is the pumpkin pancake (mesturets) which used to be sold in the street wrapped in vine or fig tree leaves.
Head west, if you are a chocolate lover. In Lisle-sur-Tarn, you will find the Museum of the Art of Chocolate, which is the result of the encounter between a chocolate maker and a sculptor. The Lauragais is also famous for its lamb.
FISHING IN THE TARN
On most rivers and lakes (plan d’eau), fishing in the Tarn is popular. Pike (brochet), pike, perch or zander (sander), carpe (carp), roach (gardon), silurid (silure), which apparently tastes like monkfish), faro, rainbow or salmon trout (truite faro, arc-en-ciel or saumon de fontaine).
An excellent place to buy trout is in the many markets. In Cordes-sur-Ciel, on Saturday mornings, you can chose and buy your fish direct from fish tanks.. Unless you are a fisherman, you cannot buy much fresher fish! Crayfish (ecrevisses) is another popular fish, but in order to protect the French species, which is endangered , only the foreign ones can be fished.
Many local producers, such as Gaillac AOC wine makers and various farmers are happy to receive visitors and share their know-how.
© FrenchEntrée Tarn & Aveyron
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By David Bolton
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