Before we get too far along into 2016 — and a very Happy New Year to all our readers, by the way — I’m going to write a couple of posts on some of the holiday feasting we enjoyed as 2015 came to a close. First, a look at a couple of local treats.
Daglan lies in the Périgord Noir, one of four areas in the Périgord, which was the former name of the département now known as the Dordogne. Some say it’s called the Black Périgord because of the famed black truffles that grow here; others say the name refers to the dark forests that abound in our area — sort of like the Black Forest of Germany.
Personally, I favour the latter explanation, but there’s no denying that black truffles are truly a local treat.
On the day before New Year’s Eve (December 30), we had a fabulous lunch with longtime Toronto friends Kathy and Keith at one of our favourite Michelin-starred restaurants in the Greater Daglan Area, Le Gindreau, in Saint-Médard.
Tomorrow I’ll write about the wonderful food we ate, but now I just want to show you what an extravagant plate of black truffles looks like. This was on display, under a glass dome, right next to our table, but we asked that it be brought over for a closer look, and here it is:
When our hostess brought the tray to our table, I asked what that serving might cost in a market, and guessed that it might be around 1,000 euros. She said that was a pretty good estimate, so you can imagine that black truffles are not an everyday item.
By contrast, another local treat is much, much more reasonable, and quite common. It’s duck, in all kinds of variety — from whole roast duck to duck legs slow-cooked in duck fat and then browned in the oven. But perhaps the tastiest duck dish is foie gras, the liver of a fattened duck that is served many ways, including seared, or stuffed into ravioli, or made into pâté, just to name a few variations.
Our latest favourite treatment of the duck liver is crème brûlée au foie gras, and in fact my wife Jan made several ramekins of it as an entrée for the New Year’s Eve lunch we had with Kathy and Keith at our house.
This was Jan’s third attempt at making the dish, and the result was the best yet — rich tasting, incredibly smooth, and finished off with a covering of burnt sugar. The dish is actually fairly simple — it involves pulverizing raw foie gras in a food processor, blending it with cream and eggs, and then baking the custard until it’s firm. Then it’s refrigerated for a while, before the sugar topping is sprinkled on and torched.
What Jan learned was that the keys to success include making sure to pulverize the foie thoroughly, and then straining the custard mixture through a fine sieve before baking it.
And here’s what the ramekins looked like, set out on our festive New Year’s Eve table:
Tomorrow I’ll provide a look at the meal we enjoyed at Le Gindreau. As you’ll probably guess when you see the food, we are already planning our next trip back there.