The fine quality of the good simple food produced here means the department can provide everything you need for a gourmet meal. The Aubrey produces beef of exceptional quality, there’s veal from Segala, and lamb and pork are also good as are cooked meats.
The Lot Valley is known for its excellent foie gras. Rivers and lakes ensure plenty of fresh fish on the menu including trout and crayfish. Many dishes use ceps (mushrooms) and fruit and nuts, like chestnuts and walnuts, in season.
Cheese lovers will be spoilt for choice between cows, goats and ewes milk cheeses. Try hard round Tomme mountain cheeses like AOC Laguiole and, of course, world famous Roquefort blue cheese. Visit Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, the birthplace of Roquefort ewes milk cheese. Ripened on oak shelves in the rock caves of Mont Combalou, the process hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages. Learn the legend of its accidental creation and find tastings in Roquefort village.
For wine, follow the AOC red and rose Route du Vins du Marcillac. The Tourist Office in Marcillac Vallon - tel: (00 33) 5 65 71 13 18 - has a brochure on cellars of all the area’s small producers. Try the local wines of Estaing and Entrygues-le-Fel from the Pays d’Olt region and delicious walnut or plum brandy.
Aveyron produces patisserie to make your mouth water. Ask for Fouace from Najac, almond croquants, echaudes a l’anis and a conical cake cooked on a stick by the fire known as gateau a la broche.
Country cuisine like tripous (sheeps tripe and veal parcels), stuffed cabbage, and a dried cod mix called estofinado, are shared with the Auvergne. Even if these don’t appeal, everyone visiting Aveyron should try aligot. Markets and fairs are great places to eat a helping of this signature dish made with pureed Tomme cheese and potatoes. For centuries it was the fare given by monks to pilgrims en route to Santiago de Comopostela. The original recipe used bread before potatoes arrived in Europe. The market at Villefranche-de-Rouergue is a great place for local produce and, if you’re lucky, you may hear the traditional d’Oc language being spoken beneath the stone arcades of place Notre-Dame.