Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cuisine à la Périgourdine - Dining in the Four Colors of the Dordogne-Perigord.



from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan G. Newman
  

The four regions of Perigord-Dordogne divided by color.
The map is provided courtesy of the Comité du Tourisme de la Dordogne

The Dordogne-Perigord
 
The Dordogne  is one of the five departments of Aquitaine. During the French revolution, the old province of Périgord became the department of the Dordogne.  The borders of the new department and the old province are practically identical.  Despite the two-hundred years that have passed since the name was changed the residents of Dordogne still call the area Perigord and call themselves Périgourdines. The Périgourdines themselves, long ago, divided the department into four regions using colors that describe the geography of each region.
  
Cuisine à la Périgourdine

Cuisine à la Périgourdine is one of the most significant regional cuisines of France. Périgourdine dishes will be on menus all over France. As Périgourdine cuisine developed, each of the colored regions shown above claimed bragging rights for particular specialties. However, good recipes are shared, and the dishes noted in this post will be on menus all over Perigord. In this post, if I have given a particular region unwarranted honors I hope the others will forgive me.
 
Périgord Blanc -White Périgord

White Perigord is the central region of Perigord and home to the city of Périgueux which is  the Préfecture, the departmental capital.   The city of Périgueux is considered the creative heart of Cuisine à la Périgourdine.
    

Farmers' market in Perigueux.
Photograph courtesy of KimonBerlin.

    
Périgord Blanc took its name from its exposed limestone cliffs. The River Isle runs through the region and the city of Perigueux, and the River Auvézère runs through part of the region. 

On the menu in Perigord Blanc

Salade Périgourdine -A salad in the manner of the province of Perigord. This salad is a cold entrée, the French starter. It is a duck salad served on lettuce or other salad greens with a vinaigrette dressing. Traditionally duck gizzard confit constitutes the chief ingredient; however, that can vary with the chef and  the price you will pay. Slices of smoked duck breast may be added and as the restaurant moves upscale pate de foie gras, a pate of fattened duck liver, may join the list of ingredients.
   

Salade Perigourdine.
Photograph courtesy of tomtomavelo
  
Filet de Bœuf  Grillé Sauce Périgueux – A grilled filet steak served with Sauce  Périgueux.  The fillet is the most tender and expensive of all beef cuts; however, it is not the tastiest, for that you need the entrecote. In France; however, you can have the best of all worlds. All fillets will be served with a sauce, and Sauce Périgueux is a rich sauce made with the truffe Périgourdine, the black Périgord truffles, and Madeira wine. The herbs used will vary with the chef. There is only one even more famous dish served with truffles and a Madeira wine sauce, and that is the Tournedos Rossini. That dish was created in Paris, but its black truffles and goose liver certainly came from Périgord. To order your steak in France cooked the way you like it click here.
  

Fillet of Beef Sauce Perigueux.
Photograph courtesy of hegyessy.
.    
Cassoulet Périgourdine -  This is the most famous cassoulet of Perigord. As may be expected its ingredients honor duck and goose. This hearty stew will include a stuffed neck of a goose or a duck, flageolet white beans, duck confit and garlic sausage and tomatoes.
     
Charlotte aux Fraises du Périgord - A Charlotte made with the abundant cultivated strawberries of White Perigord. A strawberry Charlotte is made with sponge cake or ladyfingers placed around the layers of the of fruit and custard or whipped cream; it will be served chilled. White Perigord is the center of strawberry cultivation in  Perigord.  The colors, shapes, and tastes will amaze you, and then you will understand why 20% of all French strawberries come from Perigord.
   

A Strawberry Charlotte.
Photograph courtesy chotda.
  
The original Charlotte was created by Antonin Carême, France’s most famous 18th-century chef, and  the undisputed master of French patisserie. In  1815, after the fall of Napoleon I,  Antonin left France and  became the Chef de Cuisine  to the Prince Regent of England,  the son of the Mad King George.
Antonin often named new dishes after his employer’s family, and when he created this dish he named it after Prince George’s mother, Sophia Charlotte.

There is a possibility that I am wrong in assigning the name Charlotte to Princess Sophia Charlotte. My great-great Grandmother was also called Charlotte; however, I admit that I have no proof that she ever met Antonin.
 
Périgord Vert - Green Périgord
    
Perigord Vert is covered with chestnut forests and green valleys.  Green Perigord is named for its verdant hills and valleys in an area that is crisscrossed by many streams and rivers. The Dronne Valley were the Rive Dronne passes through should not be missed.
   

Châtaignes - Chestnuts.
Photograph courtesy of Jaydot.
  
On the menu in Perigord vert.
    
Tourain Blanchi or Tourain Perigourdine. – This is the garlic soup of Perigord.   A velvety, mild, garlic soup flavored with goose or duck fat, thyme, sage and a hint of wine vinegar. This soup is usually served over a slice or two of bread. This soup  with slight variations in the recipe will be on menus all over the South-West of France.

Cou d'Oie FarciGoose neck stuffed with goose meat and depending on  the chef,  the season and, of course, the price, it may be  made with added foie gras and truffles or just chestnuts.

Blanc de Turbot Roti Gnocchi a la Farine de Châtaigne - A cut of roasted turbot, served with gnocchi made with chestnut flour. With so many chestnuts in Perigord, many  excellent chestnut dishes were created.
  

Roasted turbot.
Photograph courtesy of cplbasilisk.
 
Cuisse de Canard Confite dans sa Graisse aux Cèpes – Duck’s legs confit cooked with porcini mushrooms.
  

Duck legs confit with mushrooms.
Photograph courtesy of su-lin.
      
Périgord Noir, Black Périgord.
  
Black Périgord is  in the southeast of the Dordogne and  famous for its  dense forests including  chestnut forests. The Dordogne and Vézère Rivers run through this region.
  

Forests in Perigord Noir.

Photograph courtesy of lascaux-dordogne

The town of Sarlat. 
   
Sarlat is correctly called Sarlat-la-Caneda but just called Sarlat by everyone. Sarlat is the most important town in Black Perigord, even though, its  population is under 12,000.  Sarlat has made many contributions to the region’s history and to Cuisine Périgourdine. The dishes that originated from Sarlat include Salart or Sarlardaise in their names. The town of Sarlat itself is full of history  with many buildings from the late middle ages.  Despite its small size Sarlat has over 250 listed buildings and 60 registered monuments. Lovers of Medieval art as well gourmets roam the town.
  

Sarlat.
Photograph courtesy of MorBCN.
     
On the menu in Perigord Noir:
 
Velouté aux Châtaignes de Perigord – A velvety soup made with the Label Rouge,  red label, chestnuts of Perigord. No other French chestnuts have been awarded the Label Rouge  for consistent quality, and their only competitor is the AOP chestnuts from the Ardèche.
   

Veloute au Chataignes.
Photograph courtesy of Poleen.
   
Brouillade de Cèpes et Copeaux de Parmesan – Brouillade is  a light version of scrambled eggs. The original Brouillade recipe is claimed by  Provence where it is called Brouiado. However, other regions of France have a strong claim on their own versions.. To make a brouillade the egg whites are beaten separately, and only mixed with the yolks while cooking;  it creates a very light and airy version of scrambled eggs. The brouillade here is  cooked with cepes,  porcini, mushrooms, and the dish is served with shavings of Parmesan cheese. The Périgord with so many forests is an abundant source, in season, for many wild mushrooms especially  cepes,  porcini mushrooms and chanterelles. Every restaurant will have an agreement with their own ramasseurs, gatherers of wild mushrooms and herbs, who, in season, will bring wild mushrooms daily.
  
Filet de Bœuf a la Sarladaise -  The is the classic dish from Black Périgord.. Here a filet of beef is piqued with small pieces of the area’s famous black truffles. The filet  is barded and roasted and cooked with a red or white wine and then served with Sauce Périgueux. Barding requires wrapping the meat with fat before cooking. Barding is essential for cuts like this that are roasted as a beef fillet has little external fat. Unless the beef is barded before being roasted, it will dry out.
  
Magret de Canard with Pommes Sarladaise  - Duck breast fried or grilled, served with  Pommes Salardais. Pommes Salardaise are potatoes baked in duck fat and flavored with garlic and parsley.
 
Dos de Cabillaud en Croûte de Noix du Périgord – A thick cut of cod, the fish, cooked inside a covering of Périgord walnuts. The walnut is France’s favorite nut and when the word noix alone is on the menu it is a  is a walnut.  Only two walnuts are considered the very, very best;  the  Noix de Perigord AOP, the walnut from Perigord, and the Noix de Grenoble  AOP, the walnut from Grenoble. . Apart from the fresh nuts Perigord also sells walnut liquors and walnut oils. Perigord  has routes de noix, walnut roads like the wine roads in the wine country. Their routes de noix run through the region and are a wonderful way to see the country and stop off in country restaurants. The tourist information offices in each area will provide the map or email a copy before you leave home
  

A walnut.
Photograph courtesy of loan Sameli.
  
Black Perigord   has become internationally  famous  for its prehistoric sites. Many sites have prehistoric wall paintings, including the Lascaux cave that is a  UNESCO World Heritage site.

Not all, the caves may be visited, and others are restricted. For example, the Font-de-Gaume Paleolithic cave paintings in Périgord Noir are carefully preserved, and entrance is limited to less than 200 visitors per day. Book ahead and read up on the finds and paintings as most of their guided tours are in French only.
     
Perigord Pourpre - Purple Périgord
    
Purple Périgord is the wine growing center of Périgord. Here the most important town is  Bergerac.  Around the town are the Bergerac vineyards and just over the Dordogne river are the Monbazillac vineyards.
  
Bergerac is a beautiful town.  The town itself and the surrounding area is called the Pays de Bergerac and  apart from being home to the Bergerac wines it is another center of Cuisine Périgourdine.
  

Bergerac.
Photograph courtesy of meddie- aka/Gramps.
   
Bergerac wines have 13 appellations, growing areas. The Bergerac wines include dry reds, roses, dry white wines as well as semi-dry and very sweet white  whites. Just over the river Dordogne  are the vineyards for the Monbazillac sweet white wines that are part of the 13 appellations. To taste and learn about the different Bergerac wines take their wine road, their Route des Vins de Bergerac and a designated driver!;

Among the 13 appelations are: Bergerac AOP, Côtes de Bergerac AOP,  Montravel AOP,  Haut-Montravel AOP, Côtes de Montravel AOP, Monbazillac AOP, Pécharmant AOP, Rosette AOP, and Saussignac AOP.

The English language website for the Pays de Bergerac is:
http://www.pays-de-bergerac.com/english/index.asp
 

Vines in the Pays de Bergerac.
       
On the menu in Perigord Poupre:

Coq au Vin de Bergerac et Croutons Aillés – Coq au Vin made with one of the red wines of Bergerac and served with garlic flavored croutons.
  





Coq au Vin
Photograph by courtesy of xeeliz
   
Rosace d'Onglet de Bœuf aux Lardons Sauce Bergerac – A decoratively sliced flank steak prepared with bacon pieces and served with a sauce made from the natural cooking juices and a Bergerac red wine. A flank steak may be called a London broil in the USA. A rosace describes how the steak will be served, it indicates the steak will be sliced and presented with a fan or flower shape.
   
Escalope de Foie Gras Sauce Monbazillac  - A slice of duck liver very, very lightly fried and served with a sauce made with the sweet Monbazillac wine. The fattened duck liver cannot be well cooked; it would dissolve!  The sweet white Monbazillac wines are often compared with the Sauternes produced  just 130 km (82 miles) away in Bordeaux. However, while manner of production is similar  the percentage of the different grapes used does differ, and that clearly affects the taste,
  

Slices, escalopes, of duck liver 
served with a cider and vinegar sauce,
Photograph courtesy of hohbukuro.
   
Magret de Canard Sauce MonbazillacDuck breast fried and served with a sauce made from the natural cooking juices and the sweet Monbazillac white wine.
  

Bottles of Monbazillac wine aging.
Photograph courtesy of ChodHound.
  
Bergerac and Panache.
  
From Bergerac, the word panache entered the English language. Then, at the end of the 19th century, the French playwright Edmund Rostand wrote the play Cyrano de Bergerac. The play was based on a real 17th century Cyrano de Bergerac and has remained popular in French and English translations for over 100 years. When the play was translated into English, the translators could not find a suitable English word for the French word panache. Panache is used to describe Cyrano’s flair, style, and exaggerated grace. So panache entered the English language. Two French language movies have been made about Cyrano de Bergerac, the last in the 1990’s.
  

Statue of Cyrano de Bergerac.
Photograph courtesy of Mrs eNil.
There are a number of Cyrano statues in Bergerac. 
This one is in La Place Pélissière. 

Fetes, Festivals and Fairs in the Dordogne-Perigord.

Throughout the year, there are hundred of fetes and festivals in the Dordogne-Perigord. Probably half of the celebrations  are connected to food and wine. Apart  from the beautiful towns and villages there are hundreds of castles and chateaus.


Every region noted above has its own Tourist Information Office, just search for the region's color by name.  The main English language website for all of Dordogne-Perigord is:
 http://www.dordogne-perigord-tourisme.fr/
(Click on the English flag).
     
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Bryan G. Newman
  
Behind the French Menu.
Copyright 2010, 2015.
  
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at
Behindthefrenchmenu@gmail.com