This area is also home to Vin Paillé, a sweet wine made by a small number of winemakers who keep this centuries-old tradition alive. Bunches of grapes are hand-picked, laid on trays and allowed to dry naturally before being pressed. This concentrates the sugars and aromas, giving a white and a red wine that can be served chilled as an apéritif, or with foie gras, cheeses and desserts.
Coteaux de Glanes IGP Wines
This is another small vineyard area close to the Dordogne river where commercial production has only relatively recently begun again after a long period of neglect. One of the smallest recognised vineyard areas in France, its eight growers work as a co-operative, producing easy-drinking reds and rosés with spicy, floral notes.
AOP Perigord walnuts
These walnuts are produced in the Corrèze, the Lot and the Dordogne (Perigord is the old name of the Dordogne département). Apart from being sold in shell, walnuts are transformed into all kinds of delicious cakes, biscuits, confectionery (chocolate walnuts are seriously good) and oil. They are also distilled into liqueurs and spirits, or macerated to make walnut wine, a pleasant apéritif. They garnish salads, accompany cheeses, and are very good for you into the bargain.
AOP Rocamadour goat’s cheese
First mentioned in the 15th C., this small, flat disc of cheese is very mild and creamy when young, stronger and drier when allowed to mature. Delicious just with bread, it can be enjoyed warmed, toasted, served with salads, walnuts… however you like.
In the 16th C., so the story goes, some young greengage trees were presented to Queen Claude of France by a Sultan, and given into the safe keeping of the monks of Carennac priory, where the conditions were right for them to flourish. Be this as it may, delicious golden greengage plums are still grown here.
Ducks and geese
The fattened birds (not force-fed, as such: the food goes into a storage pouch, the crop, and they digest it as and when they want) give liver for foie gras, and meat for confit, magret, etc.
Confit is an ancient method of preserving: the meat is salted, rinsed, and cooked very gently in its own fat, nothing else, until tender. It used to be stored tightly packed in earthenware jars with the clarified fat poured over it, now it’s most often found in tins. The traditional accompaniment to grilled or oven-browned confit is a dish of pommes Sarladaises: potatoes sautéed in the fat from the confit tin, with chopped garlic and parsley.
Foie gras can divide opinion but there’s no getting away from its status in the Dordogne, where the duck and goose varieties are served in nearly all restaurants as an appetiser or cooked as part of a gastronomic main course.
The Black Truffle
Sometimes called the ‘black diamond’ because of its high value, the tuber melanosporum is a mushroom which grows underground on the rootlets of trees - usually oak trees. It likes alkaline soil, and the limestone rock of this area is its ideal terrain. As it isn’t visible, pigs were once used to hunt them out, as they have a very acute sense of smell, and naturally root for them; but as pigs aren’t always the most amenable of creatures, trained truffle hounds now usually do the job.
Sweet and fragrant, with many varieties to choose from.
See Strawberries Festival in Beaulieu in rubric Food festivals.