We could have gone for an à la carte A to Z list, but in the end we have opted for a menu with a choice of starter, main course, cheese AND dessert, just for good measure.
So here are those famous specialities of Aquitaine…
As a starter…After tasting some caviar from the Dordogne or Gironde, how about a few oysters from the Bay or Arcachon? Or perhaps some wafer-thin slices of 12-month matured Bayonne ham and some lovely fresh foie gras fried with apple?
For your main course…If you go for the garbure – a thick soup with cabbage, beans, salted meats and goose conserve – you are unlikely to need any other courses at all. Another typical Béarn dish is poule au pot, or chicken stew. In the nearby Basque Country, the obvious choice is a veal axoa or a piperade (both with the local peppers), while a freshly-caught lamprey from the estuary will be just the thing in the Gironde, prepared in the Bordeaux style, of course.
Then on to the cheese…Pride of place goes to the ewe’s cheeses of the Pyrenean valleys of Ossau and Iraty, a long-standing tradition that continues to thrive today. In the Lot-et-Garonne, there is the cabécou goat’s cheese, while the Dordogne offers the cheeses of the Trappist Monastery of Echourgnac, a small village nestled in the heart of the Forêt de la Double.
And finally the dessert…Agen prunes, Landes pastis – a close relation of the apple tourtière of the Lot-et-Garonne – Gateau Basque, of course, and the Bordeaux canelé and bouchon provide the most fitting climax to a meal worthy of the heartiest Gascon.
And of course, the drinks…As an aperitif, why not try a Lillet Blanc? After that, there are the world-renowned vineyards of Bordeaux, the Lot-et-Garonne with its Buzet and Côtes-de-Duras, the Landes for their Tursan, the Basque Country and its Irouléguy and Béarn for Béarn-Bellocq, Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh… And then an Armagnac, of course, to bring it all to a perfect finish with your coffee.