Bordeaux, Basque Country
Nouvelle Aquitaine holds cultural treasures, surprising both your eyes and palate! This South-Western area of France indeed can boast offering a fantastic range of local specialities!
Sharing a border with Spain, including some renowned vineyards in the area of Bordeaux and gifted with a massive range of seafood from the wild Atlantic Ocean, Nouvelle-Aquitaine offers some gems of traditional French gastronomy.
The Atlantic coast provides an abundance of delicious seafood, including the famous oysters from Arcachon. Moreover, 90% of French mussels are cultivated in the natural basin of Arcachon. Foie gras, truffles, mushrooms, prunes and nuts, are the basis of Aquitaine cooking. Foie gras, mainly produced in Landes is the most famous regional speciality and a menu regular in many restaurants in the region and around the world.
Aquitaine is also rich with its bright "black diamond of Perigord", the truffle. This miracle of nature is eaten in different ways and especially with foie gras. Mushrooms, such as ceps, are appreciated for their flavour and prunes and nuts are used in the preparation of many local sweet and savoury dishes.
For those with a sweet tooth lookout for "The Canelé" a Bordeaux speciality, with soft and tender batter, flavoured with rum and vanilla, and covered with a thick caramelized crust outside and a delightfully soft inside.
The Basque countries traditional meals are becoming more and more known around the world and many are still made in a traditional method passed on from generation to generation. Local produce, gathered from both sea and land, take pride of place thanks to the privileged geographical position of Biarritz. Biarritz also boasts around ten “Maîtres Restaurateurs” including Andrée Rosier, the first woman to be awarded the title "Meilleure Ouvrier de France” for her culinary skills. Walk around the stalls of Les Halles de Biarritz and enjoy the lively and vibrant atmosphere this local market has to offer.
No gastronomic trip to the region would be complete without visiting Bayonne. Bayonne has a long history with chocolate and is home to many of France's top chocolatiers in who's shops you can enjoy shopping or just relax with a deliciously frothy hot chocolate from Bayonne's oldest chocolate maker Cazenave. Famed also for its ham, the excellent Jambon de Bayonne, This delicious dry ham from Bayonne is an essential element of Basque gastronomy.
Bayonne and its many restaurants offer the best in French and local cuisine: Axoa de veau (minced veal), merlu koskera (hake), piperade (scrambled eggs with peppers), omelette à la morue (salt cod omelette), chuleta (meat cutlet)...You can also experience the Spanish influence, from delicious tapas in the local Bodegas, to dinner in one of the Basque cidreries where you can serve your glass of cider straight from the vat.
The gastronomy in South-West France is reputed for its high quality all over the world and for the presence of great starred chefs, especially in Bordeaux, like Pierre Gagnaire, Philippe Etchebest, or Gordon Ramsay. A well-dressed table in the region is accompanied by a glass of wine, but what are Bordeaux’s culinary strong points?
Whether it be extravagant cuisine or "à la bonne franquette" as the French say when referring to informal cuisine, Bordeaux has a diversity of restaurants and bars to suit any palette. Do not forget that eating has strong cultural connotations and it is very important to take your time, often hours, to appreciate the gastronomical adventure. You will be delighted in your discovery of new products and new tastes. All that is left to say is, bon appétit!