Magazine Dordogne Here and There

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GASTRONOMY

THE BLACK PERIGORD PEARL

The aquatic fauna of the department has been enriched in recent years with fish, whose name alone is enough to evoke luxury gastronomy: in Les Eyzies, sturgeons produce a caviar, Perle Noire, appreciated well beyond the borders of the department.

We know the reputation of Périgord dishes flavoured with the emblematic black truffle, but the refinement of the latter has seen serious competition with the development of caviar production sites. The Dordogne has become the leading supplier of caviar in France, with around 40% of national production! The manufacture of Caviar Prunier, located in Montpon, or the Caviar de Neuvic whose fame extends, are accompanied in their experience of high-end gastronomy by an aquaculture farm located in the heart of the great testimonies of Prehistory.

 When Frédéric Vidal decides to buy two fish farming sites specializing in trout farming, he has already travelled around the world as an agricultural engineer specializing in the management of halieutics resources. Son of an Air France Pilot, through family trips, he fell in love very early on with everything relating to water and its natural occupants. From the age of 15, he developed a passion for fish farming, from Guyana to the West Indies. Later, after several missions on behalf of Ifremer (1), he felt the urge to swim with his own fins and passed from the salt water of the oceans to the fresh water of Maine-et-Loire. It is there that he meets his first sturgeons, and begins to collect some samples of their precious semen.

Protected waters. The initial investments of the company Aquadem in Les Eyzies, in 2008, were followed by the purchase of other nearby basins. In those of Le Bugue, young sturgeons grow up to the age of three, the anniversary from which we can begin to determine their sex. The quality and freshness of the water in the Beunes stream, in the Natura 2000 zone, allows sturgeons to grow for sometimes more than ten years in the basins of Les Eyzies. This late maturity compared to other fish-farming areas corresponds to the natural cycle of the animals, which thus avoid diseases. The reputation of Aquadem's trout eggs, of which the company is the only local supplier, also owes a lot to all these attentions. In total, 110 tonnes of trout are marketed in various forms. Frédéric Vidal insists on the authenticity of his breeding methods. Caviar, according to a traditional method, remains initially in mother boxes, where it is refined like a good wine before being marketed in several ranges. Aquadem currently produces 1.8 tonnes of caviar per year, a figure that is constantly increasing. 150 gourmet restaurants have already been seduced by the Perle Noire of Périgord: the fruits of the success of artisanal values that respect animal welfare.