The Dordogne is split into four areas, known locally as the Périgord Noir, Périgord Blanc, Périgord Vert and Périgord Pourpre. Each boasts foodie treats galore and keep France’s top restaurants well supplied…
We begin our produce tour of the Dordogne in Périgord Noir, which corresponds to the area around Sarlat in the south-east of the département, down to Villefranche du Périgord. It’s at the foot of the oak trees in the area’s dense forests that ‘black diamonds’ – truffles – can be found. The scarcity of the black Périgord variety makes it one of the most sought after and expensive delicacies around.
Truffles are certainly an acquired taste but If you’ve never tried one before, many local restaurants offer ‘tasting menus’ – little dishes which showcase the fungus’s versatility with scrambled eggs, pasta and risotto. Meanwhile, connoisseurs can sniff out the dedicated markets where truffle hunters gather to sell their spoils.
Walnuts also thrive in the Périgord Noir and are prized for their oil, the delicate, nutty flavour of which lends itself particularly well to salad dressings. The nuts have AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designation and are also used to make gatinoix, a tasty apéritif designed to whet your appetite for all the rich foods associated with the Périgord.
GOOD FOR THE GOOSE
Périgord Blanc is centered around the capital, Périgueux, a town with no shortage of shops selling such Périgordian specialities as duck and goose foie gras which, in spite of its reputation, is relatively inexpensive.
Of course, the duck meat itself won’t go to waste. Cooked, then preserved in goose fat and packed into tins, ready for slow cooking in their own fat, the duck legs are sold as confit. What sets goose fat apart is its high burning point. Therefore, potatoes roasted in goose fat can reach higher temperatures, which makes them wonderfully crispy.
For a special treat, try a tournedos Rossini at a local restaurant. Combining beef steak with rich foie gras and maybe a slice of truffl e on top, it’s a tip-top Périgord trio all in one mouthful! Alternatively, opt for the rich, truffle-infused sauce Périgueux.
ET À BOIRE…
Located in the north with Nontron as its capital, Périgord Vert is, as its name suggests, verdant and ideal for grazing cattle. Visitors to the area can enjoy trips around farms and chat with producers at local markets – mushrooms, apples and strawberries all flourish in this region.
Périgord Pourpre, meanwhile, is a wine growing region with Bergerac as its focus. The vines benefit from good exposure to the sun, and tributaries from the Dordogne River keep the plants hydrated. The result is red, white and rosé wines – 13 with an AOC label – to rival those of France’s more famous wine producing regions. Even sweet wines have an excellent reputation – head for Monbazillac, for example.
Whether you’re eating a Cabecou du Périgord goat’s cheese salad dressed with walnut oil, a black truffle risotto or a traditional apple-based dessert, you’ll find a complement to each course in Périgord Pourpre. And, in short, whatever your taste and preference, nature’s bounty will see to your complete gastronomic satisfaction in Dordogne.