Fancy some strawberries?
In the Dordogne valley, where it has long grown between the rows of vines, the strawberry is the star of the stalls, the darling of light desserts and tangy jams. From April onwards, on the beautiful markets of Périgueux or Sarlat, Bergerac or Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, you can only see them, with their red colour and subtle perfume. It has cute little names, Gariguette or Cirafine, Charlotte or Donna, but it does not play the coquette to let itself be crunched, whatever the time of day and until October.
A little goat named Rocamadour
Deliciously creamy, this small raw milk goat's cheese has been made on the Quercy plateaus since the 15th century. The Rocamadour cabécou (with Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée please) melts against the palate, releasing subtle flavours of cream, butter and hazelnut. On a slice of Croustilot, a good crusty bread from the Lot, it works wonders as well as in a salad, accompanied by nuts or warm with a touch of honey. Connoisseurs will enjoy it with a glass of Glanes or Amadour, local wines from the Dordogne Valley.
In the land of nuts
Like Provence with its olive trees, the Dordogne Valley is known for its walnut trees. Planted by the thousands since the 10th century on the banks of the Dordogne and in the green hilly countryside, they produce the famous Noix du Périgord. It is used to make walnut kernels, oil, wine, liqueurs, flour and cakes, which are soft and full of flavour. Fresh or dried, the walnut can be eaten in salads, whole, caramelised or coated with chocolate... A true gift of nature that the whole Dordogne Valley celebrates every autumn, after the harvest, with joyful Walnut Festivals (External link) .
The truffle, the black diamond
Don't expect to stumble upon this edible gem by chance. You need a good nose or a good truffle dog and a trained eye to find the Périgord black truffle. No other mushroom is as satisfying to amateurs, with its powerful perfume and subtle aroma. It is fresh that it is the best, queen of the producers' markets of the Dordogne Valley, between December and March. From May to the end of August, its summer variant delights the taste buds with truffled butter or grated on a pasta dish. Happiness has a price, which rarity justifies: the truffle growers of the Dordogne Valley are now satisfied with a few hundred kilos, whereas truffles were collected by the ton in the 19th century.
Foie gras, confits, magrets and other delicacies
In the Dordogne Valley and particularly in the Lot department where the tradition comes from, we speak of fattened duck, the one that is fattened to produce the famous foie gras, present in France on all the festive tables, but also confits, magrets, pâtés and stuffed necks... Whether or not one is moved by force-feeding, a technique dating back to the 25th century BC in Egypt, it is difficult to resist the pleasure of tasting foie gras, whether it is pan-fried, cooked or semi-cooked. For the secrets of production, many small farms open their doors and workshops to visitors in good humour.
Tender as the lamb of Quercy
Up there, on the causses, as the high plateaus of the Dordogne Valley are called, there is short grass, dry stone walls and beautiful hiking trails. There are also ewes with black-rimmed eyes. Legend has it that a shepherd, wanting to protect his sheep's eyes, drew a charcoal circle on them one day. Since then, the lambs are born with black eyes. A protected designation of origin, the Quercy lamb or farm lamb from Quercy is raised as it should be "under the mother", up to 70 days, in the shade of the great oaks of the causse.
Getting to the Dordogne Valley