Look Beyond Tuscany for Comforting European Cuisine This Holiday Season

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Image credit: Charles Haynes via http://public-domain.pictures/

It’s officially Winter 2015, and this season, many Americans are taking holiday celebration meal cues from their favorite food blogs and magazines. In a nod toward old-world Europe, many will attempt creating a Tuscan-style holiday spread. It’s not hard to understand why: Tuscany has commanded much attention as Europe’s mecca of comfort food. This year, however, those readers seeking to achieve true decadence in their quest for a feast with some European flair should consider drawing inspiration from France’s Gascony region.

Located in the southwest corner of the country, Gascony has become a culinary destination for fans of foie gras, Roquefort cheese, succulent poultry dishes and France’s historic brandy, Armagnac. With a rustic cuisine that’s earthy, rich, and fearless in its presentation of flavors, Gascony is a textbook representation of the “douceur de vivre” (“sweetness of life”).

To help you indulge like a true Gascon this winter, enjoy the following menu suggestions with wine and Armagnac pairings come courtesy of the iconic Domaine du Tariquet, a historic estate located in the small, terroir-driven region of Gers:

First Course: Roquefort Salad w/ Domaine du Tariquet Chardonnay (SRP: $12.99)

roquefortsaladBegin dinner with a glass of Domaine du Tariqet Chardonnay alongside a veggie dish that incorporates the famed Gascon blue cheese, Roquefort. The buttery nose and powerful palate of the wine will play nicely off the rich creaminess of the cheese, but with a freshness that keeps it well suited for starting a meal. Consider this salad recipe from Ina Garten, or this butternut squash dish for something a bit heartier.

Main Course: Gascon Poultry w/ Domaine du Tariquet Côté (SRP: $14.99)

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Image credit: jh_tan84 via http://public-domain.pictures/

For the main course, embrace the best Gascony has to offer with a deliciously fatty poultry dish that incorporates both foie gras and Tariquet Armagnac alongside Tariquet’s Côté, a 50% Chardonnay 50% Sauvignon white. Featuring floral notes and a sensation of fleshy pink grapefruit, the mineral character of the Sauvignon is subtly reinforced by the roundness of the Chardonnay. If you have time to prep, Food Network’s Crispy Farm Raised Poussin with Foie Gras, Armagnac Sauce, Asparagus, and Morels is a great option, though D’Artagnan’s Roast Quail with Foie Gras, Armagnac, and Grapes is an equally authentic and delicious alternative for those that need a slightly speedier foie gras fix.

Dessert: Apple/Prune Tort w/ Chateau de Tariquet VS Armagnac (SRP: $35.00)

For dessert, keep the Armagnac flowing with this classic Tourtiere, a traditional tort made with apples, prunes, or both, paired alongside Tariquet’s VS Armagnac. With a bold opening and notes of caramel and toasted apple rounded off with a touch of chocolate, Tariquet’s VS Armagnac will bring out both the sweetness and subtly spicy notes of the slow-cooked fruits.

Not long ago, I was honored to sample and review the two wines suggested above as First Course and Main Course pairings, Domaine du Tariquet Chardonnay and Domaine du Tariquet Côté. Check back here tomorrow for my impressions of each offering.

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