The cuisine of the Lotoise is typical of the rich food of the South West. Working farms - ferme-auberges - welcome diners. Foie gras, duck magrets and cassoulet all feature on restaurant menus and, as you’d expect in a predominately farming area, the quality is first class.
Part of the holiday pleasure for food lovers is to seek out local specialities and the Lot has plenty to offer. Walnuts and chestnuts are gathered in autumn to make oil which tastes great on salads, and mushrooms like cepes are collected and used fresh or dried. Most prized of all are the rare, underground ‘black diamond’ fungi we know as truffles which favour the limestone soils of the oak woods of the causses. These delicacies are so prized their locations are a well guarded secret. Look for small flies drawn by the fragrant scent around the base of trees as you walk amongst Lot’s oaks and you may not need a trained dog or pig to point you to its treasure. (Lalbenque truffle market- the largest in South West France - is featured in Culture and Events.)
A steaming bowl of soup made with broad beans, onions or pumpkin - citrouille - is a classic start to any meal in the Lot and pumpkins from Quercy also make delicious pies. Pumpkins and raisins are worked into a cornmeal cake (millassou) served as an accompaniment to succulent lamb raised on the limestone causses. L’agneau du Quercy was the first in France to receive the quality AOC label. Salt pork (mique) and chicken, stuffed or made into pies, are other specialities. Fresh trout from the River Lot is always popular whilst brandade de morue - salt cod fried in walnut oil - is a more traditional dish created to use dried fish once shipped up river from the sea.
The warm climate and rich soil produce fresh asparagus and apples, pears and plums, fine early strawberries from the Lot valley and melons from Quercy. Pave du Quercy is a traditional cake, decorated with nuts, raisins and crystallised cherries.
Creamy little cabecou goats milk cheeses have been made around Rocamadour since the Middle Ages. On receiving its AOC status the cheese became known as Rocamadour; either way it’s just right to accompany the dry dark red Cahors wines produced from vineyards along the Lot using mainly malbec or auxerrois grapes. These wines were being shipped to England from Quercy via Bordeaux as far back as the sixteenth century. Try the lesser known Coteaux de Quercy wines now being produced on Lot’s southern border which have recently been elevated from Vin du Pays to VDQS status.