Sunday, July 1, 2012
The Dacquoise or the Biscuit Dacquoise. The Town of Dax and the Pays Dacquoise in Aquitaine France.
Behind the French Menu.
Bryan G. Newman
Strawberry liqueur buttercream, Belgian white chocolate leaves, strawberry hearts.
Dacquoise or Le Biscuit Dacquoise – A cake traditionally made with almond or hazelnut meringues layered with chocolate; some chefs will offer a variety of different flavors. I have enjoyed an excellent version of Le Biscuit Dacquoise made with fresh fruits.
No traces remain of a name for this cake’s original creator; he or she vanished in the fog of French culinary history; however, the cake’s name explicitly links it to the historical area of Pays Dacquois, the area around the town of Dax. Pays Dacquois is today included in the department of Landes in the region of Aquitaine.
The town of Dax on the River Adour at night.
Photographs by Courtesy of DigitAlain.
The town of Dax is also famous for its thermal baths.
The town of Dax was already famous for its thermal baths in Roman times; unfortunately, when the Romans left the baths fell into disuse. Having said that, I do not want anyone claiming that I have implied that none of the locals had a bath for over 1,500 years! Nevertheless, the baths are famous again.
If you are traveling in Aquitaine and are close to Dax consider taking a day or two off from touring and rejuvenating yourselves at one of Dax’s spas; then, in the evening, enjoy the excellent cuisine from Dax and Aquitaine. The town of Dax is small and beautiful and the options include staying overnight in a B and B, and using the attractive and well run public spas, or pampering yourself in a five-star hotel with its own spa on the premises.
Photograph by courtesy of Julien Damenez.
A meal in one of the town’s restaurants will introduce you to the local cuisine, and for your dessert make sure that the chef is offering his or her version of the original Dacquoise. This area is in Armagnac country, and so you are practically obligated to end your meal with a glass of Armagnac as your digestif.
Dacquoise au Noisette, a hazelnut Daquoise.
Photograph courtesy of by VX_Lentz
Your menu may also offer:
Dacquoise au Praline – A Dacquoise made with pralines.
Dacquoise Pistache – A Dacquoise made with pistachio nuts.
A 1935 Armagnac as good as it was when bottled in 1975.
Liquors improve only in the barrel, never in the bottle.
Photograph by courtesy of Pierre Lannes.
The famous hot fountain in Dax.
The water is naturally a consistent 64 degrees centigrade every day of the year.
Photograph by Courtesy of Frédérique Panassac.
From the 13th century until nearly 100 years ago Dax had been an important inland port on the River Adour just 30 km (19 miles) from the Atlantic. Dax’s work as a port included the transport of Armagnac, wines and timber, however, when the trains arrived in the late 19th century Dax’s port could not compete; the trains transported freight and passengers for half the price. Today, after 1,500 years the spas are again an important part of Dax’s economy.
You may want to plan your trip so that you are not in the area of Dax in the middle of August. Then, there is, unfortunately, five days of full-blooded bull- fighting, the Spanish style of Corrida. Catalonia in Spain has already banned the bloody, so-called sport, of bullfighting, but certain towns in southern France still permit it. Check with the local Tourism Office for the exact dates for those who do or do not wish to be there during their Feria.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
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