A as in Aligot, B as in Black Wine, C as in charcuteries de montagne, Crunchy Mende biscuit, chestnut, F as in foie gras, P as in Agen prunes, S as in safran…The Lot Valley, valley of Marvels, Eden for the greedy among you:
on the markets, in the farm, on the menus of the village inns just like those from the ones with one star or more, the expression of whole art of life. And what a choice! From the plateaux of the Aubrac to the sweetness of the Agen area, all sorts of countryside, crops and culinary traditions are what is so temptingly tasty about the menus.
Make sure your taste buds are standing to attention, take your seat, ask for the menu and get tasting!
A purée of potatoes, with crème fraiche and lots of authentic melted tomme cheese from the Aubrac. The recipe may seem simple, but you can tell a good aligot because of its unctuous and free-running mixture which only takes a bit of wrist power to produce! In the olden days it was a staple dish for shepherds, it's THE classic dish of the Aubrac.
Serving suggestions : On the hilltops of the Aubrac, le buron de Caméjane (Caméjane stone hut) no longer makes fresh tomme cheese but you can go there to enjoy some authentic Aligot.
People love the ceremonial thing which involves cooking it in big cooking pots. Guests are even invited to mix it using a big wooden spoon. Good fun garanteed!
Chestnut : For centuries this fruit was the main source of earnings in the south of Cantal. Today, you can learn all about it at the Maison de la Chataigne and try the chestnut menu at the Auberge de Mourjou where every course is based on chestnuts : chestnuts in salad, in the meat sauce, with cheese and even chestnut ice-cream, without forgetting the chestnut wine and liquor!
It is more than a dish, it is the whole story of the Lot which you will find in your plate. It is based on stockfish (dried unsalted cod) that the Nordic boatmen brought with them when they used to transport the coal from the region of Decazeville along the Lot in the 18th century. Prepared with potatoes, eggs and creme fraiche, this most prestigious of dishes can be savoured in the restaurants of Aveyron from April to October.
To cook the Estofinado, soak the dry fish in fresh water for a week. When it is softer, it is cooked, crumbled and prepared with potatoes, fresh eggs, oil, garlic, parsley, creme fraiche, boiled eggs.
Watch out , it’s a blond! And it’s making a big comeback, saved by a handful of enthusiasts : grown at an altitude of 1,000 metres, on the lplanèze, a plateau volcanic in origin, it is mild, sweet and has just obtained a Red Label.
They have been perfected by the Lozère Chamber of Agriculture in the meat industry : ”Génisse Fleur d’Aubrac”, ”Viande de Lozère (Lozère meat) ”, ”Agneau Lozère (Elovel Lamb)”, which are calves raised on milk.
Being a mountainous part of the country, the Lozère is the place to come for drying and maturing of salt meats like the fricandeau, the herb sausage, the potato sausage or the dry Lozère ham. And in the Châtaigneraie region of the Cantal, the pigs are happy and plump, having been fed for centuries on chestnuts which give their meat an irresistible flavour!
What you might want to buy: For the gourmet lovers, you’ll see we have 16 month matured hams, poutous, succulent sausages and also all the specialities from the Gévaudan and from Cayrol.
Did you know? A "pouteille" is a dish of pigs'trotters, beef dices and potatoes. And the "manouls" is tripes. Two specialties which both have their equivalent in the Canourgue. And if at Bagnols-les-Bains, people call you a bag of bones, no panic, this is also a Lozerian specialty : the little bones of the pig cooked slowly in the animal's belly.
Cahors wine (Lot) : the "black wine" which was enjoyed as long as the Middle Ages, has got a second lease of life, thanks to a new generation of wine growers.
Wines from Entryagues, Le Fel and Estaing (Aveyron) : a schistose soil for the vineyards of Estaing and Le Fel, rather more granite for Entraygues, but also scented wines with their AOVDQS appellations.
In 2013, the Fédération des Vins de Qualité de l’Aveyron (Aveyron wines federation) launches its Route des vins so you can discover these unique wines, produced here for centuries. Through Marcillac, Côtes de Millau, Estaing and Entraygues-le-Fel, you’ll discover wines but moreover, people and beautiful sceneries.
From Estaing or Entraygues sur Truyere, discover the terraces vineyards and the producers. The road is signposted and easy to follow.The wine-growers welcome you in their vineyards to share their passion : discovery of the variety of vines, which grow on theses lands of schist and limestone.
Wines from Marcillac (Aveyron) : a mild climate throughout the year, abrupt red-soiled slopes known as "rougiers", Marcillac is in a class of its own. It's powerful, full bodied … and often the recipients of awards, AOVDQS and an AOC which is celebrating its 20 years in 2010.
Wines from Conques : when a young man from Conques , Patrick Rols, invests all his enthousiasm to resurrect a vineyard, he gets in return a completely new, full ruby wine called "roman spirit" with the appellation "vin de pays de l'Aveyron".
Why not try the local beers : 5 breweries can be found in Aveyron (2 of them are in the Lot Valley)
The most popular is la Brasserie d’Olt in St Geniez d’Olt, it was founded in 1998 and now offers beers and fizzy drinks.
The “British” Mousses du Vallon are made according to an English method : high fermentation and then again fermentation in bottles. This traditional method doesn’t use any chemicals.
La Tourtière (Lot-et-Garonne) : eggs, flour, water, salt. So far, nothing very original for a dessert! All its charm comes from its savoir-faire : the pastry is kneaded at length, gently stretched and garnished delicately with apples strips marinated in Armagnac (or prune Brandy). Much more than a puff pastry pie, it's a veritable institution when there's an occasion for a celebration.
The fruits, stars of the Lot-et-Garonne : its strawberries (the Gariguette and the Ciflorette) are Red Label, the Agen prunes are famous themselves, its hazelnuts a rare oil and it is the 3rd largest place in the world for the production of kiwis. In total, more than 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables which make this département the number 1 in France for diversity and the number 1 in the Aquitaine region for its organic agriculture.
The Fouace (sweet bun) from Laguiole (Aveyron) : in the olden days, the fouace was made for public holidays and Palm Sunday… Today, you can enjoy it all year long in all good Aveyron restaurants.
The Honey (Lozere) : Do you prefer it creamy or liquid? With a chestnut scent to it, a touch of the Flowers of the Aubrac, or heather? In Lozère you can choose, because it’s the number one bee-keeping département in France thanks to the exceptional quality of the environment.
The Laguiole (Aveyron) : more than a AOC cheese made from full unpasteurized cow's milk, you can taste all the grazing grass of the Aubrac in its melting pastry. Visit and free tasting session of cheese production and also of the aligot at the Coopérative Jeune Montagne (possibility to buy mature Laguiole - 6 to 12 months old) contact Coopérative Jeune Montagne
The Cantal (Cantal) : the most senior of the Auvergne cheeses, made using the same techniques for the last 2,000 years. It owes its inimitable taste of butter and liquorice to the flowers of the mountain summer pastures which are the every day diet of the local cows. It can be mild, mediun or mature over more than 240 days.
The Pélardon (Lozere) : is a traditional cheese made from goat's milk. It is round soft-ripened cheese covered in a white mold. Pélardon has benefited from Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status since August 2000.
The Rocamadour (Lot) : small, round and mild, it is made from full unpasteurized milk from the black eyed ewes who haunt the plateaux of the Quercy. And this has been the way for the last five centuries! It used to be called Cabécou, and today it is part of the AOP (Protected Appellation Origin).
Grown in the Middle Ages in the Quercy (Lot), it almost disappeared. Thanks to enthusiasts it‘s once again thriving. Saffron growing, which began again in 1997, takes up a total of 3 hectares. There are about 60 producers, making of this "hand made" spice a truly family affair. Indeed, the pistils are never mixed. Buying a gram of Quercy Saffron is therefore like acquiring the treasure of one single family (200 flowers needed for 1 gram of saffron).
Last Saturday in October in Cajarc All-saffron market (syrup, jams, cheeses, pâtés and other local products flavoured with saffron), best saffron competition, saffron meal organised by chefs from the "Bonnes Tables du Lot": every minute of this festival brings out the flavour of this most coveted spice, and the variety of ways in which it can be used. Cajarc, on the banks of the Lot, is the setting for this delicious experience.
Association of saffron growers at Cajarc, Phone +33 5 65 33 45 58. www.safran-duquercy.com