Cuisine of Aquitaine
The origins of Aquitaine’s viticulture are said to date from the Roman occupation of the region in the first century. Since this time, the industry has flourished into the multibillion-pound enterprise that dominates international wine. This, of course, means that much of the interest in Aquitaine cuisine is dominated by talk of the wines of Bordeaux, yet there is much more to enjoy during a visit to this fascinating region of south-west France.
The French tradition of fine dining means that each region in the nation is blessed with a host of specialities. The Aquitaine region is no different, and its regional dishes are packed with flavour and cooked with panache. One of the best-known gourmet dishes is duck or goose foie gras. Though somewhat controversial due to the production process, foie gras has become a must-try delicacy, with its former reserve for special occasions giving way to wide availability at any time of the year.
Another duck speciality originating in Aquitaine is the duck confit – a meal whose history can be traced back over centuries to its first presentation at the royal banquets of Henry IV. The dish follows the traditional production method, with duck legs stewed in fat along with local herbs and salt. Best enjoyed with one of the many fine wines of the Bordeaux region, the duck confit is certainly a meal fit for a king.
To satisfy the palate of those with a sweet tooth, Aquitaine cuisine has the perfect option: the Bordeaux canele cake. A small, fluted cake featuring the distinctive flavours of rum and vanilla, the canele cake provides a sweet treat to round off any meal, with its crunchy caramelised shell the perfect complement to either a glass of Sauternes or a cup of coffee.
Red or white?
Such is the plethora of wine options available to visitors of Aquitaine, having the time to sample all there is to offer is impossible. Thanks to the fantastic climate and humid conditions enjoyed by the region, the quality of grapes cultivated in Bordeaux is without compare, enabling production of such instantly recognisable names as Château Lafite and Château Figeac. Regardless of preference, the red and white wines available from notable wine houses will offer a delicious taste of what has become an invaluable industry to the region and to France as a whole.
Bordeaux Wine Festival - Mid June
This is a fantastic opportunity to wander along the 2km wine route, tasting the finest of the region's produce. In addition to the various winemakers' booths, there are 2 hour tasting workshops, parades and banquets. In the evenings, enjoy music and son et lumière shows, projected onto the 18th century buildings.
Stay for a couple of days and you can pick up a pass for the vineyards and meet the winemakers themselves.