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5 Foods to Try in Bordeaux

Posted 21 Dec 2023

Although Bordeaux is famous around the world for its prestigious wine production, the area is so much more than a wine region. Situated alongside the Garonne estuary, the Atlantic Ocean and neighbouring the emerald hills of the Dordogne, Bordeaux is a culinary treasure. Its regional cuisine is firmly tied to the terroir, a word frequently said with pride meaning land in French. It’s this perfect gastronomic location and fertile soil that makes the locals proud, attracts chefs from all over the world and leaves tourists wanting more.

Many traditional dishes in Bordeaux have roots in French history and are centuries old. Unlike other international cuisines, specialities in Bordeaux are kept exclusively within French borders and are very rarely reproduced in other countries – many are even legally protected. It’s this precautionary approach along with cooking practices handed down through generations that make dishes from Bordeaux so special and timeless. On our leisurely cycling tours, make sure to pop into a restaurant or two to try the classic specialities that Bordeaux has to offer. To give you a head start we’ve put a list together of 5 dishes that are a must-try when visiting the region.

Cap Ferret Oysters

Much of Bordeaux's cuisine revolves around the sea, producing some of the most delicious and premier seafood in the world. Its Cap Ferret Oysters are a great example! The oysters are farmed and caught in Arcachon but have been naturally growing in the area since the Roman era. This delicacy is only produced by a handful of small producers called ostréiculteurs which carefully preserve their oysters through strict production quality and age-old methods of farming. The best place to find these silver gems would be in the town of Cap Ferret itself in one of their casual oyster shacks or, otherwise, on the menu of many Bordeaux restaurants. Cap Ferret Oysters are best enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon, or as the locals prefer, with red wine vinegar and chopped shallots.

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Oysters

Canelés de Bordeaux

Bordeaux’s Canelés will possibly be the best little sweet treat you’ll ever come across. Enjoyed by Bordeaux locals for centuries, this popular pastry is prided in the region and its recipe is legally protected. Canelés are prepared by combining egg yolks with flour, sugar, vanilla and rum. Once cooked they have a hard caramelised shell with a soft, custard centre. A protected recipe since 1985, only pastry chefs who bake the original recipe can call these cakes canelés, those spelt with a double n, cannelés, will have other ingredients added. The origins of this lovely desert are a mystery, however there is one plausible theory. It states that the nuns from the L’Annonciade monastery in Sainte-Eulalie wanted to use up the yolks left over after being separated from the whites during a wine clarification process and invented this recipe in the 18th century. There are lots of cannelés all over Bourdoux but if you wish to find the original canelé – you’ll have to do a bit of cycling around to spot one.

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Caneles

Boeuf de Bazas

According to the locals, the beef from bazadaise cows is one of the best quality meats in the world. The cows themselves are free-range and grass-fed in the land of Bazas and only 13 butchers approve the sale of this cherished beef. Perhaps it is the premium care given to these animals that makes their meat so tender and flavourful. This dish is usually served as a steak with green peppers and a traditional mustard sauce, smooth with nutty tones boeuf de bazas will leave your mouth watering. Be sure to take a break from your bicycle and head into a local restaurant to try this wonderful meat.

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Beef

Asperges du Blayais

The Asperges du Blayais, or Blaye White Asparagus, is different from your regular asparagus in its taste and appearance. They look rather pretty with white stalks and purple tips and are exceptionally sweet and smooth tasting. Their distinct flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture is attributed to the black sand soils by the Garonne River banks where they’re farmed and passionately produced. Traditionally they will be eaten alone drizzled with oil and sprinkled with punchy pomegranate seeds or peppery chanterelle mushrooms. Their appearance in the markets of Bordeaux signals the arrival of spring in France – there is even an annual festival held to celebrate these adored vegetables with street entertainment, free concerts, recipe demonstrations and, of course, lots of asparagus. If your cycling holiday lies in the months of spring, this event is not worth missing.

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White asparagus

Lamproie à la Bordelaise

Once served to Bordelais Kings and Queens, this dish dates back to the Middle Ages. Ancient in more ways than one, the Lamprey is a jawless fish which resembles an eel and its species is traced back over 530 million years with very little genetic change. These prehistoric creatures live in the Gironde Estuary and are fished every year between December and May making them a seasonal dish in local restaurants. However, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted, the fish meat is combined in a stew with potatoes, leeks, shallots, onions, and red wine. If you are brave enough to try it, its delicious flavour will pleasantly surprise you.

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Lamprey

For more information about our tours in Bordeaux, give our cycle experts a call on 020 7471 7760, or view our Bordeaux cycling holidays here.

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