FOOD & WINE
delicious local delicacies
Food & Wine
Gascony is renowned for its Food & Wine, with local delicacies such as the many recipes for duck. Flavours are rich, varied and healthy, food is generally unprocessed and sourced locally, with gently reared tender red meat, really tasty chicken, the famous ‘Toulouse Sausage’, 'Cassoulet', a vast range of pâtés and 'charcuterie', and traditional ‘foie-gras’. Local markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, patisserie and croissants, and a huge range of cheeses. Wine lovers have always known Gascony for its wide range of excellent country wines, the intriguing aperitif 'Floc de Gascogne' and its signature brandy 'Armagnac'.
Over the last few hundred years, Gascony has developed a strong reputation for its distinctive cuisine. This is largely because cooks, whether professional chefs or private individuals, have direct access to excellent local and very varied produce, whether straight from the grower or via one of the hundreds of Weekly Markets throughout the area. The flavours are intense, rich and traditional, and usually complemented by authentic country wines.
From Lectoure with its Charentais melons in the North, to the Black pigs of Bigorre in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the South, from the Basque Country and the fish of the Atlantic coast in the West, to the restaurants of the city of Toulouse in the East, a culinary tour of Gascony will not disappoint. The food has real taste and doesn’t shy away from plenty of ingredients and flavour. Think deeply traditional French cuisine, but with plenty of warmth and aroma.
To start off with, ‘Le Gers’, the department that makes up much of historic Gascony, is home to a lot of livestock; in fact, livestock greatly outnumber human residents in this area! Particularly popular are duck, which are gradually replacing goose. Although well-known for the traditional delicacy ‘foie gras’, no part of the bird is wasted, with portions of the breast meat known as ‘magret’ served in a variety of different ways, while the legs and wings are often preserved as ‘confit’ and the gizzards used in a ‘Salade Landaise’. Goose and duck fat is never wasted and is traditionally a corner stone of Gascon cooking – potatoes roasted in duck fat are delicious! Gascony also produces some of the finest ‘White Garlic’ in France, perhaps in the world.
When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, you’re spoilt for choice thanks to the warm Mediterranean climate with its long growing season and lots of sunshine. There is a market somewhere nearby every day of the week, even in the smaller villages, and the displays of fresh fruit, vegetables and cheeses are a marvellous sight, guaranteed to get you cooking! Root vegetables are the order of the day when it comes to hearty stews and soups in winter, whilst the appearance of new crop asparagus tells everyone that summer is just round the corner. And then we start on fresh summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, plums and the famous Pruneaux d’Agen, followed later by figs, apples and pears.
Last but not least, no corner of France is without its own native cheeses. Roquefort to the north-east of Toulouse produces its world-famous blue cheese, but Gascony has its own excellent local (especially goat and sheep) cheeses, less well known but also delicious, such as these three farm cheeses selected by ‘Fleurons de Lomagne’.
- Ferme Baylocq, from near Fources, a pure sheep’s cheese
- Fromagerie Arribe, in the Pays-Basque, a pure sheep’s cheese
- Ferme du Serré, close to Auch, a pure goat’s cheese
Of course, as with any area in France, the wine should never be forgotten – the French believe that food and wine should always be enjoyed together. Historically, Gascony included Bordeaux and the wines of that area deserve a chapter on their own. Gascon wines today are less pretentious - often described as ‘authentic country wines’ – and often made by small independent producers following a tradition begun in Roman times. The best local wine to enjoy with the richness of duck is Madiran. This is a dark earthy red with tones of cooked plums made mainly from Tannat grape in a small appellation to the west of Auch, while Pacherenc is our dessert wine of choice. Gascony’s famous brandy Armagnac is also a must-try while you’re in the region, and you can learn more about this by going to our Blog about Armagnac. There are three separate Gascony Life blogs about the wines of Gascony, which will give you a good start on this broad and fascinating subject.
Gascon Cuisine & Restaurants
As David McAninch so eloquently wrote in The New York Times on 15th March, 2017, in his article titled “Is Gascony the Most Delicious Corner of France?”….
"Even a week or so spent eating and drinking your way around the Gers... is enough to spark a lifelong love affair."
We completely agree with this and part of the appeal of a holiday with Simply Gascony is the opportunity to shop for really fresh ingredients in the markets, cook simple, wonderful meals and then enjoy eating them with your family and friends, accompanied by one of the many excellent local wines. To help you do this, when you book with us, we will recommend local markets, shops and restaurants close to your rental property, and many of our properties can provide a local cook, either to prepare meals or to provide a full chef service.
When you want to eat out, here are some suggestions…
Our Recommended Restaurants for 2022
These are some of the restaurants that we and our Simply Gascony Owners have enjoyed over the last few years. Some of these will compare well with much better-known establishments in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris or London. Others are much simpler, only known locally but nevertheless providing genuine quality and excellent value for money. The list below is ordered more or on a West to East basis…
La Vie en Rose in Eauze
Le Florida in Castera-Verduzan
La Falene Bleu in Lannepax
Les Trois Lys in Condom
L’Hotel de France in Auch
La Racine in Lectoure
Domaine de Nazère in Avezan
La Grignotiere in Monfort