Zoom on: Cancon hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, a real energy booster is a treasure with a delicate taste that originates in Lot-et-Garonne, not far from Cancon (40 km from Marmande). This bastide located in the north of Lot-et-Garonne boasts a Unicoque cooperative which centralizes 98% of French hazelnut production.
So, basically, in a nutshell, the French hazelnut is definitely a Lot-et-Garonne one. And this phenomenon may even continue to rocket as hazelnut producers love this clay-limestone area where orchards take over more land year after year.
Claude Durand, one of the pionneers of this culture can be found in Lacépède, in the heart of the Pays de Serres region, midway between the Garonne Valley and the Lot one. Before him seven generations of farmers lived and worked on this land where they grew cereals, vines and bred dairy cattle. In 1987, Claude became fond of hazelnut production. This nut with its rare nutritional qualities.
Why not pay Claude, his wife régine, his two children, Augustin and Amalia, a visit sometime. They'll take you around the orchards, the discovery space where you can find out everything about hazelnut production and transformation before heading over for a tasting session. Those who love to indulge will delight as, here, hazelnuts are proposed in a variety of mouthwatering pleasures, from aperitif-style hazelnuts to oil, full-grain flour, roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut and chocolate spread, and a host of praline and chocolate treasures prepared by Augustin who is a professional chocolatier.
The Maison de la Noisette in Lacepede: www.lamaisondelanoisette.com
Tomatoes came from the Americas but they loved the land around Marmande and found the climate great. To the extent that they became a speciality. Generations of local farmers would go on to develop a variety called Marmande. Bright red, large sized, not totally round, slightly ribbed, it is unanimously acclaimed for its taste and flavoursome flesh which is enjoyed in salads and stuffed.
The ultimate in pleasure fruit. The fruit that smells of summertime and outdoor meals.
Ciflorette, juicy and sweet, Charlotte, fragranced and soft Gariguette, sweet and tangy are some of the varieties produced in Lot-et-Garonne fields whose research and quality is promoted through the Label Rouge (Red Label). A first in France for this fruit which is eaten like candy.
Perhaps a little less prestigious than its black sibling, the white truffle offers the great advantage of being harvestable in summer.
Several markets are organized in the department when the season comes around. Enthusiasts get together here and it's an opportunity to buy at the best price. It can be eaten in salads, as an aperitif, finely chopped on mini toast slices, etc. But it's as truffle butter spread over toasted country-style bread that it's most popular.
Here's the recipe for poached egg en Meurette, Périgord duck foie gras, baby sprouts, goat’s milk curd and summer truffles
Plum trees, which arrived from China via the Silk Road, took on their Agen particularity when Benedictine monks from Clairac Abbey came back home fro mthe Crusades with the idea of grafting it with a variety from Damascus. As such, the Ente plum was born. With its fine skin, its exquisite blue-mauve colour, this is the plum which would be harvested and dried to become the Agen prune, genuine black gold from Lot-et-Garonne.