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With this succulent gift box we invite you to discover Aude, a magnificent region near the Spanish border. The varied landscape and geography of this exceptional land, known as Cathar Country because it was once a stronghold of Catharism, is a product of the convergence of Atlantic and Mediterranean climates. Thanks to its rich diversity, Aude boasts a wide variety of authentic and exquisite culinary delights. Many believe that sparkling wines were invented here in 1531 when the Abbey of Sainte-Hilaire first produced the famous Blanquette de Limoux. But Aude is not just home to some of the world's finest wines; its fertile soil also yields amazing products like truffles, Castelnaudary white beans (basis of the popular cassoulet dish), Citou sweet onions, Lucques olives (one of the most prized table olive varieties), almonds and honey used to make a delicious local nougat, and Pays de Sault potatoes. As you can imagine, it was quite a challenge to sort through all these delicacies and pick only a few of the finest treats for our gourmands!
La Grande Réserve de Georges 2013, AOC Cabardès, red wine (75 cl)
Winery: Domaine de Ventenac.
Proudly bearing the AOC (controlled designation of origin) label since 1999, Cabardès is home to some of the most fascinating vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon, noted for both the quality and originality of their wines. Given its unique geographical location, this land enjoys a transitional climate that combines the rains from Bordeaux with generous doses of Mediterranean sunshine. As a result, Cabardès is the only AOC to boast such a balanced blend of Mediterranean (primarily Syrah and Garnache) and Bordeaux (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, etc.) grape varieties. Created with consummate skill, this oak barrel-aged Cabardès is a stellar example of that dual influence. A true gem of a wine, boasting smooth, supple tannins and a long finish with notes of red berries, tobacco and spices, this red is the perfect companion to a beautiful cut of meat or, of course, a classic local dish like cassoulet.
Traditional Castelnaudary cassoulet with confit duck wings (840 g)
Artisan: Le Lingodoc - Maison Rivière.
It would be a crime to visit Cathar Country and not sample the famous Castelnaudary cassoulet! Maison Rivière has won many awards for this all-natural dish, with no preservatives or artificial colouring. Their cassoulet is as generous and succulent as the land itself. Creamy white beans cooked slowly in a fresh vegetable broth are combined with typical homemade Toulouse sausage and delicious confit duck wings. Every ingredient is carefully selected and prepared the old-fashioned way, but what really makes this dish unique is Maison Rivière's secret recipe. Only Madame Rivière knows the exact blend of spices which, when added to the broth, give the cassoulet its inimitable flavour. We're big fans of time-honoured culinary secrets, and you'll find that the result lives up to its mysterious reputation. Just heat and pop in the oven for an au gratin finish, and dig in!
Lucques olive tapenade (90 g)
Artisan: Le Mas d'Antonin.
Elena mainly grows two types of olives on her land: Lucques and Olivère, a local variety. The Lucques, with its unparalleled flavour and crisp texture, is the region's most famous table olive. The first press yields a sweet, fruity oil, and the second produces a more powerful, intensely aromatic oil. The olives are pressed within 24 hours of being harvested to obtain the finest oils, all of which are monovarietal, making them an ideal way to savour the unique taste and aroma of this fruit. Made from finely ground green Lucques olives mixed with a bit of olive oil for a smoother texture, this tapenade will give you a chance to experience the amazing flavour of Aude's most iconic olive. Magnifique!
Homemade organic saffron jelly (120 g)
Artisan: Domaine des Massols - Eve & Antony THION.
Ideally situated in the Pays de Sault at 700 metres above sea level, the soil of the Domaine des Massols is perfect for cultivating saffron. About 10 years ago, Eve and Anthony decided to radically change their lives when they acquired an abandoned farm on a remote mountainside in the Pyrenean foothills and began to restore—or, more accurately, completely rebuild—it for use as a guesthouse (maison d'hôtes in French). It was a herculean undertaking, but their efforts paid off: the splendidly restored property is a rural tourist's dream come true. They used the surrounding fields to cultivate small plots of organic crops. The couple grow and process several products on their farm, and one of the best is this 100% vegetable-based saffron jelly (made using agar agar, a substance obtained from algae which many consider THE vegetable gelatin, rather than the animal collagen used in most jellies). Perfect with foie-gras (if you have any left after the holidays), this sweet jelly can also be served with pastries or crepes. If you love saffron or want to discover it, you can't pass up this treat!
Traditional honey and almond nougat (100 g)
Artisan: Maison Bor.
Limoux has more to offer than its famous Blanquette! Nougat is also king in these parts. Nougat is a semi-soft toffee made from honey and almonds that practically begs to be nibbled. Founded in 1936, La Maison Bor is one of two artisanal confectioner's shops in Limoux, and they've got this nougat bar down to an art: soft and creamy with a subtle hint of almonds and vanilla, it's virtually impossible not to like. Once you start, you won't be able to stop!
Sweet "surprise" potatoes (100 g)
Artisan confectioner: Maison Nougalet.
Working with traditional methods, copper pots, and jealously guarded secret recipes, this confectioner's shop is on a constant quest for innovative flavours. Welcome to Maison Nougalet, which has won the famous "Ruban Bleu" award several times at France's most important confectionery fair (INTERSUC) for the originality and quality of its creations. Speaking of originality, you won't be disappointed by these surprising "potatoes", a quirky tribute to the star product of the neighbouring Pays de Sault. They're actually not potatoes at all: hazelnut cream chocolate, white chocolate and bits of almond combine to give you a sweeter, different experience of Pays de Sault. Perfect for chocolate lovers of any age.