signPart two of Ferme en Ferme fall: our postprandial yet still gastronomic promenade through the Black Mountains.

deer-graze
Can you spy the deer between the trees?

Picarel le Haut, run by Catherine Souef near Saissac, has 120 cerfs (deer), biches (does) and daguets (brocket deer–a small species), as well as 30 Arab pure-breed horses. (Saissac is a great day trip from Carcassonne, with ruins of a Cathar castle in a very pretty village perched on a mountainside.)

deer-terrine
Deer terrine (like a pâté)

Tastings included deer pâté and morsels of grilled doe steak. I’ve never been a fan of deer meat, despite having grown up in a family of hunters, but here biche is a classic for Christmas dinner. And now we know where it comes from.

deer-steaks
Vacuum-packed deer steaks

The shy animals were well behind the trees of their large enclosure, and it wasn’t easy to get a picture. Did you know that stags shed their antlers every year?deer-headAnother stop was at the Ferme du Villemagnol, just west of Saissac, where Nadège and Corine Guinebault raise free-range pigs and sheep.saucissonWine-fueled singing wafted out from the tent for diners; clearly the customers were content. We were keen to pick up some saucisson, or hard sausage. The line stretched around the tent housing the butcher counter, even though the staff worked quickly to slice ham to order and wrap up sausages and other goodies.hams-2

ham-sliced

muzzle
From left: galabard (a kind of black boudin that includes tongue), snout, ribs, pâté
pork-cans
The sign says “Everything is good in the pig”

Our charcuterie experts decided, upon tasting, that it was worth the wait. “It’s nothing like what you get in the supermarket,” the Carnivore declared. “It’s nice to chew, it has no gristle or lumps of fat.” Yes, food gets analyzed in the same way wine does.goatsgoats-and-kidsWe also visited the Chevrerie du Colombier, near Fontiers Carbardès, where Cécile and Thomas Hollard raise goats to produce several kinds of cheese.cheese-softcheese-grayThere were the softest cushions of snowy white fresh cheese to heart-shaped cheeses covered with gray mold to great rounds of hard cheese, with thick crusts. The names include petit colombier, tomme, cabrichon and cabribert. Cabri is a kid–a baby goat.cheese-cabribert-stackscheese-tommeWe were disappointed not to happen on any goat-milk ice cream, which is a real treat. I suppose they didn’t expect the weather to be so warm.

goat-buyers
These guys bought a live goat, who was not cooperative at all.

By the time we got home, it was clear what we would have for dinner: cheese, sausages and fresh baguettes. Just perfect.

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Doe, a Deer

  1. Stag and hind are the translations of the French cerf et biche and these terms refer to big deer such as Red Deer. Buck and doe is used for small deer, such as Roe Deer (Fr. chevreuil). In the Touraine it is surprisingly difficult to get hold of venison. I suspect a lot of what the hunters get is ultimately fed to the dogs, as they are not allowed to sell it and can’t give it to institutions like the maison de retraite like they used to (because it is butchered in the field and the health regs have changed). I rarely see biche even at the specialist markets and my butcher struggles to get game of any sort. There are a couple of venison farms in the area but I assume they produce enough to supply certain stores for Christmas and that’s it. I’ve not noticed them participating in the Bienvenue à la ferme programme.

    Some of that pork looks fantastic! I’m a big fan of goats milk tome too. Some of our locals make it in the first half of the year when the milk is the right consistency.

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    1. Thanks for the explanations. Deer are so plentiful in the U.S., but I don’t know the different kinds. There’s a hunting club here that puts on a big dinner every year, with both venison and sanglier on the menu. From the hunters I know, they eat what they shoot themselves.

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  2. We love to eat ‘Bambi’ especially at Xmas when we are thinking of being on our own and a stew is on the cards. It is somewhat scarce in our area, we have friends who bring us vacuum packs from the UK.

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  3. I’ve found venison a bit too strong in taste. Very, very small portions more than sufficient.
    The cheeses look wonderful, and the cochons products, and I’m still laughing at the idea of those two guys trying to deal with an uncooperative goat. Those critters have minds of their own.

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    1. The guys with the goat were quite hilarious. The goat was bleating very loudly. For all we know, they were going to keep it for milk/cheese and it could lead a long and uneventful life (the Carnivore said, “oh, look, they bought a lawn mower!). But it made things as difficult as possible!

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      1. Well I got the original recipe online and tweaked it to my taste. When we have a stove here I’ll cook it for you !
        Incidentally we are in Carcassonne next week but I don’t have your contact details with me. If you ping me an email we can arrange that meet?

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