Cognac Wine region shares the culinary heritage of the southwest with
the addition of exotic influences from beyond its shores.
A “must visit experience” is the covered market at Royan. There you will find a range
of fresh produce that will satisfy the most fastidious gourmand, and a treasure chest for
those who just love the smell, colour and excitement of food and cuisine. Come on a Sunday
morning for the best ever displays.
About Cognac Food
You can expect an extra zing in your dishes either through the addition of Cognac or Pineau,
or a wide range of spices.
The region is well-known for its shellfish, France’s largest producer of oysters and mussels.
Fish, both salt and freshwater, are in plentiful supply. As are melons, other fruits and
vegetables, mushrooms, meat, poultry, and game, which are all locally produced and gathered.
“La Mouchade” is a mussel dish you can find in other coastal areas of France so while in the
Languedoc you will savour it with Pastis (the aniseed flavoured aperitif) in Cognac curry
powder is added for a really spicy taste and a zing to the taste buds.
Look in the markets for the wonderful hams of Poitou. They are cured with spices, herbs and
cognac. Also terrines and pâtés with the same delicious ingredients such as Terrine
Charentaise au Cognac or rabbit pâté Pâté de Lapin au Cognac.
Eating at Home in Cognac
Towns like Saintes, Royan, Angoulęme and Cognac abound with cafes and restaurants where you
can enjoy wonderful food. However if you enjoy the colour and excitement of market shopping
or even visiting the supermarket (be prepared to be surprised at the quality of produce and
display in the a good French supermarket), then a meal back at your accommodation, on a shady
terrace under the vines, is an attractive proposition.
Here are two pre-dinner cocktails and four dishes that we have enjoyed at home in Cognac.
Our Cognac Specialties
Cognac & Orange
Cognac and fresh orange juice were made for each other. To 2 cl of cognac add fresh orange
juice to taste, some ice cubes, and decorate with an orange slice.
In a shaker mix 4 cl of White Pineau with equal parts of pineapple, mango and orange
juices. Shake and serve over crushed ice in a long glass.
Figs with Ham & Goat's Cheese
A pre-dinner favourite it consists of delicious tree-ripened
black figs, a local air-dryed ham and amassing ripened goat’s cheese, Fromage de Chevre Fermier.
On their own wonderful tastes; in combination divine!
The French love affair with olives is evident in the wide range available. Not only French olives but Italian, Greek, and many other Mediterranean countries. They come in green, red and black and ever shade between; they are marinated in numerous herbs and spices with taste that will surprise and delight. Enjoy with crusty bread and a glass of “de Pays Charentais” Rouge.
In my book there is only one way to eat oysters, Natural.
The finest oysters in France,
Huitre de Claire, come from the Cognac coast round La Rochelle. In the markets you will
find them graded according to size and where they have been raised. My choice is to buy
the biggest and the best! Do take a cold pack to the market and keep them chilled until
ready to open and serve. A strong downward thrust with a oyster opener at the hinge end,
remove the top shell, put on a bed of ice with a grind of fresh black pepper and a squeeze
of lemon, and you are ready to enjoy a gastronomic delight!
MELON with Grapes au Pineau
Serves 4 persons
A dead easy winner! One gros melon
or 4 petite melons, cut off the top and scoop out the seeds. Fill with grapes and top up
with Pineau. Cover with film and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Mussels with white wine & cream sauce
For 4 to 6 persons
2kg mussels in shells
2 cups dry white wine
1 TBS olive oil
2 shallots or red onions, finely shopped
1 heaped TBS grated fresh horseradish
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
Juice of 1 lemon
250 ml cream
Salt & ground black pepper
1 Lemon sliced
- Wash mussels under running water. Remover grit and seaweed with a sharp knife.
Discard any that don’t close with a tap.
- Heat oil in large pan and sauté onions until clear but not brown. Add wine and simmer
for 5 minutes. Do not over cook but give then a stir several times.
- Strain off liquid into another pan, add curry powder & heat to reduce liquid quickly.
Add cream at end and reduce heat to avoid splitting.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Put mussels in a heated dish, pour over the curry sauce, and garnish with parsley.
Serve immediately with French bread, lemon slices and a chilled Vin de Pays
Charentais Dry White.
- You cannot visit Cognac and
the Charente-Maritime area without trying their mussels.
- You will find them on offer in special cafes anywhere on the coast as a signature dish.
- Or buy them fresh from the market or supermarket and prepare this dish at home.