The gastronomy of the Vendée region
The island of Noirmoutier has light sandy soil which produces excellent new potatoes. Sunshine & seaweed are two essential ingredients for early potatoes. A little-known potato variety known as the "caviar of the potato world". This old variety of potato but recently revived, is planted on one day in February, & harvested on one day in May. Just 100 tons are produced every year, mainly because they have to be picked by hand.
It has a delicious salty flavor, and is also very rare and expensive. Once the residents of Noirmoitier are done with their annual hand-harvest of the tuber, they throw it its own festival.
A flat, slipper-like garlic bread.
An aperitif flavoured with the leaves of the blackthorn.
The famous white haricot bean of the Vendée, are cooked by slowly simmering, and flavoured with garlic & herbs. Once cooked can be spread on toasted bread and served with generous slices of grilled local ham (Jambon Vendéen or gammon).
The ‘Mogette’ was awarded “IGP” status “Protected Geographical Indication” limits its productions to the Vendée and some parts of the Pays de Retz.
The vendean ham
The Vendée ham is a raw ham rubbed by hand with dry salt, drizzled with wine brandy and sprinkled with spices and natural herbs composed of cinnamon, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Wrapped in a cloth or food bag & pressed between two boards, giving it a parallelepipedic shape. Unlike most raw hams, the drying phase is short because the ham is pressed. The Vendée ham goes perfectly with the mogette.
Since October 2014, Vendée ham has benefited from the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
The salicorne is a small, fleshy wild plant, with leafless stems, found near salt marshes. Prepared and preserved like pickles, it can be eaten raw, plain or in vinaigrette as a condiment or vegetable.
The vendean "Brioche"
The Brioche is kind of a pride for the Vendean people. Sweet and flavoured with brandy, orange flower water or a mix of both. La Gâche, is the younger relative of the brioche, it's slightly different to brioche: more sugar, just as much butter and the addition of cream... Making it denser.
Brioches and gâches are now protected by an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication).
The "Fion" is a variant of the "Flan" (a type of french custard cake). It is a typical vendean dessert (mainly in the north-west marshes). This traditional pastry was originally made for Easter by the sailors' wives. The vendean "Fion" mainly consists in a "Flan" made with scented eggs.
The "caillebotte" is quite simply a curdled milk specialty, served fresh with what a wide choice of topping. They are mostly enjoyed when extra-cold.
In the old days, the flowers of Chardonnette (a type of wild artichoke found in the dunes of St Jean de Monts & St Gilles Croix de Vie) were used to curdle the milk.
Les Fiefs Vendéens & La Bière
The wine producers of the Vendee continue to work towards quality and the region is now credited with an AOC label guaranteeing the grape varieties and methods used in the “Fief Vendeen” wines. The Vendee is best known for its refreshing rosé wines (Mareuil, Brem, Chantonnay, Pissotte & Vix) and its light white wines (the AOC Gros Plant) served with sea-food & oysters.
- Mélusine : 6.5%- A blonde, flavoured with a little honey and angelica beer.
- Love & Flower : 4.2%vol – a white beer flavoured with finely hopped flower petals
- Puy D’Enfer : 8.5%vol – a triple flavoured beer with a little coriander, hops and a selection of barley malts.
- Cervoise : 6.5%vol – a red beer flavoured with generously malted & hopped myrtle.
Discover other craft beers on the site www.brasserie-melusine.com
Fished in quantity off the Vendee coasts, the sardine has become the emblem of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. It’s a charming sea resort but also the largest Atlantic Sardine Fishing Port. Each year over 2.500 tons of sardines are landed to be conserved. The canning company “la Perle de Dieux” produces tins of them in all sorts of subtle flavours. St Gilles Croix de Vie has been awarded with the Red Label.
The Baie de l'Aiguillon, a mecca for shellfish farming, owes its reputation to the mussels grown on bouchots (oak stakes planted in the water). The bouchot mussel is distinguished by a yellow flesh and a quite black and fairly hard shell with a fairly pronounced taste.
The famous oysters of the atlantic coast
Three basins (the Bay of Bourgneuf - Noirmoutier, Talmont Saint Hilaire and bay of L'Aiguillon) are oyster farming centers or oyster production. For example, every year about 10,000 tons of oysters are produced over almost 80 km.
"La Fleur de Sel" (Flower of salt) : White gold from the salt marshes.
Fleur de sel (pronounced “flure-de-SELL”) from the Noirmoutier region of France is known for its fine, highly irregular grains and mild brine flavor. Here it’s called “White Gold”. Fleur de sel is produced by collecting the thin layer of salt that rises to the surface of shallow pools of seawater along the coast. Salt or "white gold" is gathered at the edge of the salt pans using a large flat wooden rake called a "simoussi". The harvesting period is from May to September.