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This month La Gourmet Box transports you to Lot, a département bordered by the foothills of the Massif Central to the west and watered by the rivers Dordogne and Lot after which it is named. Lot, formerly known as the province of Quercy, was virtually an independent territory for many years, and this isolation has given rise to a fascinating local cuisine. The rivers were the only reliable routes in and out of Lot. Douelles (typical boats of this region) carried wine from Cahors to Bordeaux for export and returned laden with spices and dried stockfish from Scotland. The relative isolation and diversity of this land forged a rich local gastronomy based on Cahors wines, walnuts, duck prepared in countless ways, truffles and mushrooms, Souillac plum brandy and many more delicacies you'll discover in our gourmet box.
CHÂTEAU LAMAGDELAINE NOIRE - MALBEC 2014 CAHORS AOC, RED WINE (75 cl)
Winery: Château Lamagdelaine Noire.
Cahors wine is one of the oldest in Europe: the first vineyards were planted in Quercy 2,000 years ago during the Roman conquest. The wines produced in this region were so superb that they soon posed a threat to Italian vineyards, and in AD 92 the Roman emperor decreed that all vines in Cahors be uprooted. Fortunately for us, his order was not obeyed. This box would not be complete without a sample of Cahors' most iconic grape variety, Malbec, which has also earned Argentina a reputation in the wine world. Our winery has perfected the cultivation and processing of this black-skinned grape. The vineyards of Château Lamagdelaine, as the Malbec variety was formerly called, flank the ancient Roman-Gaulish aqueduct on the slopes of the Lot valley, north of Cahors. This dark, full-bodied, intense and deeply aromatic wine boasts a complex flavour with notes of ripe red berries. The barrel wood is perfectly matched with the wine, producing soft, supple tannins that caress the palette and offer a pleasantly toasted finish. Recommendation: decant and serve at 18º C. Pair with grilled red meats, white meats or free-range lamb.
ARTISANAL CRÈME BRÛLÉE WITH DUCK FOIE-GRAS (40 g)
Artisan: Maison Sauveterre.
If you love the combination of sweet and savoury as much as we do, you won't be able to resist this splendid crème brûlée with the velvety richness of duck foie-gras and slightly acidic tang of fig-based balsamic vinegar. This unique, creamy gourmet concoction with a hint of typical caramelised sweetness is sure to delight your guests—foodies' word of honour! Proper preparation is important but very simple: just remove the cover and heat the container in the oven at 180ºC for 7 minutes. Serve warm on a slice of toasted French spice bread. For a fresh contrast to the foie-gras, place a thin slice of apple between the bread and the cream
HOME-MADE DUCK STEW WITH CAHORS WINE (760 g)
Artisan: Ferme de Larcher.
In the heart of the Causses du Quercy Natural Park, our artisans let their ducks range freely, feeding them a grain-based supplement to maintain a perfectly balanced diet. All products are processed and prepared in an on-site facility; the duck meat and fresh ingredients are perfectly traceable and contain no preservatives or GMOs. The result is this hearty slow-cooked stew: tender duck and fresh vegetables in a Cahors wine sauce with a tantalizing aroma of thyme and bay leaf. Serve with a glass of our Cahors red for a genuine gourmet experience.
ARTISANAL PASTA WITH QUERCY-PÉRIGORD MUSHROOMS (300 g)
Artisan: Le moulin du Val.
Like the neighbouring region of Périgord, Quercy is mushroom country. This artisanal pasta with mushrooms is ideal served with white meat or even with the delicious stew in our gourmet box. But it's also a complete dish in itself, with a dash of sour cream to bring out the full range of rich, subtle flavours. Preparing this pasta is simplicity itself. Remove the mushrooms from the tube and let them sit in water for about 10 minutes to rehydrate. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 9 minutes, and meanwhile sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of sour cream at the very end. Toss the mushroom mixture with the pasta, et voilà—ready to eat! Just make sure you invite a few friends, relatives or neighbours to show off your culinary talents...
This mix of chopped mushrooms, shallots and parsley has everything you need to prepare a deliciously savoury omelette. Combine the contents of the tube with a bit of water (about half of the tube) to rehydrate; let sit for approximately 10 minutes, and then place the rehydrated mix in a pan and heat. Add a bit of oil or butter before the water evaporates completely and sauté on high. Beat the eggs and add to the pan. When the omelette is cooked to your liking, slide it onto a plate and serve. You can also use this mix to prepare a delicious risotto or give your meat dishes a distinctive flair.
TRADITIONAL WALNUT MUSTARD (100 g)
Artisan: Louis Roque.
Louis Roque's famous liqueurs are heavenly... but their walnut mustard is nothing to sniff at, either! Walnuts have been a staple in the Quercy valley for over 17,000 years: broken shells have appeared at the camp sites of Cro-Magnons who lived in this area. The walnut is a cornerstone of Quercy cuisine. By adding ground walnuts to this mustard, Louis Roque has intensified its smooth texture and aromatic complexity. It goes perfectly with roasted meat and adds a tasty zing to salad dressings or mayonnaises. Some even say that walnut mustard brings out the flavour of caviar in a surprising way. We haven't had a chance to prove this, but if you're a caviar fan we urge you to give it a try!
TRADITIONAL PLUM BRANDY MINI-BABAS (200 g)
Artisan: Louis Roque.
The Roque family has been perfecting the art of distillery, generation after generation, since 1835. One of the sons, Louis, decided to set up shop in an old convent at Souillac in 1905. He soon became the leading local expert on plum brandy, although the company has diversified over the years. These mini-babas made with plum brandy are one of their more creative inventions. Made from a time-honoured recipe, these little cakes are perfect for serving with coffee or as a dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. The crown-shaped baba is a typical French sweet, a type of sponge cake soaked in liqueur. The most common variety is baba au rhum or rum cake. Epicures, grab your forks!
HOME-MADE WALNUT CAKE (120 g)
Artisan: Biscuiterie de Rocamadour.
One can hardly visit Quercy without stopping at Rocamadour, an impressive religious site from medieval times perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the River Alzou. And it’s virtually impossible to come here without visiting the Biscuiterie Rocamadour, an artisanal bakery specialized in traditional Quercy cakes and sweets. Corinne, Gilles and Jean Marc Delbeau are inspired pastry chefs who concoct amazing delicacies from regional products with no artificial colouring or preservatives. Of course, being in Quercy, one of the star ingredients is walnuts. We can think of no better way to conclude our gourmet tour than this light, tender, amazingly delicious cake packed with walnuts (25%!). It's the perfect morsel to serve with a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of Souillac plum brandy.