Two weeks ago I had the pleasure to visit the French region of Dordogne, specifically the area known as Périgord Noir and its capital Sarlat. I had three days to explore this gorgeous part of France together with the local tourism board and in collaboration with Brive Airport.
Perigord Noir is the most visited region of the Dordogne, thanks to its beautiful villages, magnificent castles, stunning landscape and delicious food. Food is such an important element of French lifestyle in general, but even more so in this part of the country.
My three days in Sarlat were all about discovering the local produce, such as black truffle, goose, foie gras, walnuts and strawberries (to name the most popoular ones).
Life in the city of Sarlat seems to be focused around the farmers’ market which is held twice a week in the old town, attracting many traders and visitors from Dordogne and surrounding regions.
While we spent one morning visiting the market, another day was spent in Chef Gérard Gatinel
We learnt how to cook Magret de Canard (Duck Fillet) and Pommes de Terre a la Sarladaise (Sarlat-style potatoes with garlic and parsley). We also made a dessert using local walnuts and local liqueur.
I love nuts, particularly when they are locally grown and as good as the walnuts in Sarlat. I couldn’t stop eating them! My obsession became evident on the day of my departure from Brive Airport, I checked-in my bag and inside there were: a bottle of walnut liqueur (from Distillerie Salamandre), a walnut cake bought from the market, a bag of chocolate coated walnuts and – for good measure – half kilo of walnuts and a walnut cracker! ;)
Of course I had very good reasons to buy the walnuts and the liqueur, so I could recreate the dessert recipe I had learnt in Sarlat: a Walnut Parfait!
This is a “French-style Parfait”, a frozen dessert made from a base of sugar syrup, eggs and cream. It’s similar to a semifreddo, but it should not be confused with a English Parfait (a smooth liver paste) or American Parfait (a layered dessert of parfait cream, ice cream and whipped cream).
A French parfait has the consistency of ice cream, even though it is not churned. Because of its fat and alcohol contents, the parfait can be frozen without the creation of ice crystals, and it mantains a smooth texture.
For 5-6 servings
Grind the walnuts in a food processor until you obtain a smooth flour.
In a large bowl, mix together the double cream and ground walnuts. Add the liqueur, mix gently and place the bowl in the fridge for about ten minutes.
Stir the sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved. In a food processor, whip the egg whites at medium speed until they are foamy. Add the sugar-water mixture as you do so.
Take the cream mix out of the fridge and gently fold in the whipped eggs.
Lay 5 or 6 cookie cutters over a plate covered in cling film. Pour the parfait mixture into the stamps, trying to evenly fill them all. Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
Remove from the freezer abour 15 minutes before serving. You can prepare a walnut brittle or a caramle to pour over the parfait.