For gourmet lovers there is no better time of year to visit the Charente than autumn.
The forests are full of chestnuts, young and old head out to search for mushrooms, and the grapes in the vineyards are ready to be harvested. Bon appétit!
Hunting for mushrooms
The French love their mushrooms. Entire villages swarm out into the forest in autumn, armed with a traditional wicker basket, in their annual search for morels, chanterelles and porcini mushrooms. Unfortunately, most of the thousands of species of mushrooms are poisonous to humans.
Pas de problème; most French pharmacies will check to make sure that your harvest doesn’t contain any harmful species.
The most famous mushroom is the truffle, found mainly in the Provence, Burgundy and Dordogne. To find these valuable morsels, the average lay person requires some help. Many local truffle hunters (and their four-legged companions) are happy to let foreigners tag along when they go out on their annual search.
The French forests are home to another delicacy that brings out culinary fans in droves in autumn: chestnuts.
Roasted, baked, hot or cold, as an appetiser or dessert; the red-brown fruit is a very versatile ingredient. Try chestnut crepes, candy, pizza, cream or even liqueur.
Burgundy autumn classic
Most French love a juicy cut of meat. And although autumn is known for a variety of game meat, the ultimate fall classic is still the boeuf bourguignon.
Once known as a peasant dish, this beef stew has conquered all social classes and today even features in haute cuisine. There are many regional varieties of the dish, but standard ingredients include mushrooms, bacon, carrots, onions and a full-bodied Burgundy wine.
The market is the ideal starting point to uncover the best boeuf bourguignon. Many local chefs come here to pick up their favourite ingredients. Go for an early morning walk around the market and you will smell the delicious aroma wafting from the bubbling pots.