Gourmet delights in Aquitaine


The French region of Aquitaine is well-located for a holiday of sea, sun and site-seeing, but one of its main attractions is its food. Traditionally one of the richest agricultural areas in Europe, food is taken very seriously in the region. Some excellent wine is produced Aquitaine too and provides the perfect accompaniment to the local cuisine. The region is still largely agricultural today and produces some of the finest food and drink in the world. If you're planning a self-catering holiday to one of the rustic gites in Aquitaine, you will be spoilt for choice when shopping for food in the local markets. Even the most simple home-cooked holiday meal becomes a feast when you can use some of the finest ingredients in the world. As for dining out, you will find restaurants and cafes all over Aquitaine serving delicious local dishes accompanied by regional wines. Duck and goose are common sights on the menus of Aquitaine eateries and both are often used for the regional specialty of confit. Duck and goose fat frequently winds up on many other dishes, too. Used in soups and sauces, the fat from these two birds is a common ingredient in cooking in this part of France. As well as its liberal use of duck and goose fat, Aquitaine is known for its plums and walnuts. Plum trees and walnut trees grow in abundance all over the region and their fruit is frequently used in local dishes. Many of the plums produced in Aquitaine are dried and used as prunes. Often stewed in the regional brandy, Armagnac, prunes are widely eaten in the area and are used in many sweet dishes. Those with a sweet tooth will find no shortage of treats in Aquitaine, with Landes Pastis, a spectacular apple tart one of the region's most popular dishes. The famous Gateau Basque is another local dessert, but most well-known of all, is the Bordeaux Canele. This small cake has a delicious custard centre wrapped in a caramelised crust and must be sampled at least once during a holiday in the region. Cheese is big in Aquitaine, too. The region produces many cheeses, such as the famous Ossau-Iraty. If you're staying in one of the many gites in Aquitaine situated near a food market, be sure to stock up on the local cheeses. Perfect as part of a leisurely lunch with crusty French bread, the regional cheeses also go brilliantly with a glass of regional wine.