Puy-de-Dome may not have the same high profile gastronomy as some other regions of France, although you are as likely to find ‘potee auvergnate’ (pork, potato and cabbage hot pot) on the menu of small Paris restaurants, traditionally run by migrant Auvergnats to the capital, as in any regional auberge.Trouffade - a potato cake with cheese and bacon - and pounti - a soufflé of bacon, eggs, onion, prunes, herbs and cream - are other Auvergnat specialities.
The rich alluvial soils of the Limagne plain produce cereals and fruits including walnuts and apples for tart and cider-making. Clermont-Ferrand and Riom specialise in an ancient tradition of pates de fruits or ‘dry’ jams made without preservatives.
Forests yield chestnuts and mushrooms. Puy-de-Dome’s pure waters mean produce from lakes and rivers is of the finest quality. Most will find tasty trout and salmon from the Monts Dore or River Allier more appealing than grenouilles a la mode de Riom (fried frogs legs). Mountain grazing produces wonderful beef and lamb. Delicious salted pork dries in the clean mountain air and springs passing through volcanic rocks supply the world famous mineral waters of Volvic. The latter gets its unique flavour from minerals filtered from the rock of Puy de la Nugere, which last erupted in 5760 BC.
The Auvergne produces a quarter of all France’s AOC cheeses and of the 5, Puy-de-Dome can claim two. St-Nectaire is a white tomme cheese from Salers cattle of the Monts Dore which develops a greyish mould on its skin giving it the characteristic nutty flavour.
From the Forez mountains comes the rather pungent cylindrical blue Fourme-d’Ambert. Follow the Routes des Fromages and sample these along with the region’s other quality cheeses - bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal and Salers - with chunks of crusty bread and a glass of little known Cotes d’Auvergne AOC wine such as Boudes, Corent or Chateaugay.