In a race to be named the Official Classic Local Dish of the Périgord Noir, confit de canard would be right in the lead, possibly neck-and-neck with cassoulet, or possibly even ahead by a beak. And yet my wife and I don’t eat it all that often, certainly not even once a month. But today we went to the right spot for this classic, and the price was right.
Jan and I had planned to drive to Gourdon for some shopping this morning, and decided it was time to return to La Halle Fermière, a small but attractive place that combines a restaurant with a shop selling a variety of regional foods. Its name means The Farmer’s Covered Market, although Fermière is the feminine of farmer; I don’t think we have a word for a female farmer in English, and wind up using “the farmer’s wife,” which is actually fairly sexist, isn’t it? I first reviewed La Halle in “Mixing shopping and lunching,” posted on December 9, 2011.
The menu of the day, at 15 euros, seemed hearty enough for a day that was both cool and a bit grey, so that’s what we ordered. The entrée consisted of two small but sufficient slices of foie gras mi-cuit, sprinkled with a bit of fleur de sel, and served with a ginger chutney and a green salad. (The duck liver is cooked in relatively low heat — not seared — so it becomes firm; it’s something like a solid paté.) Very good.
Then came the main course — the confit de canard, which means a duck leg that’s slow-cooked in duck fat, and then roasted in the oven to crisp the skin. As it turned out, this version wasn’t crispy at all, so Jan and I wound up removing the skin entirely before eating it. Normally that would be a disappointment, since crispy duck skin is so yummy, but we both thought that these legs were among the best we’ve ever eaten; they were moist and meaty and absolutely delicious.
Served with the duck were pommes de terre a là sarladaise — potato slices sautéed in duck fat with lots of garlic — and a nice mound of ratatouille. Here’s the plate:
With the meal, we enjoyed — yes, actually enjoyed — a Cahors wine. As I’ve written before, the dark-red wines of the Cahors region (just south of us) are usually much too tannic for our tastes. But this wine was made with both the Malbec grape and the Merlot grape, and the result was softer, fruitier, and definitely more drinkable than the Malbec-only version.
Then came dessert — a chocolate mousse — followed by coffees, which were served with prunes that had been stuffed with a chocolate cream. I usually like prunes, but I have to say that these were a bit on the weird side.
All in all, the three courses for 15 euros seemed like good value. And we were pleased to learn as we left La Halle Fermière that it was celebrating its first anniversary. Here’s to many more!