Cahors, France: Best places to eat - food guide Mary Moody's picks

Writing about, living in and travelling the southwest of France across the past 18 years, Mary Moody also takes small groups on walking and culinary tours of this rural region. Next, she leads the 12-day Utracks' walking tour, Food Lover's Guide to the Way of St James, which includes Cahors. See utracks.com

SNACK

Croque Quercynois is a hearty regional version of the national favourite, featuring the mouth-watering local goat cheese cabecous layered with hot smoked ham. Quercy is the ancient name for the Lot Department which is the centre of walnut growing – you will never taste fresher walnuts. At Le Bistro de l'Isa, the croque is served with frites and a crisp green salad with walnuts and a honey dressing.

See bistrodelisa.com

APERITIF

The black wine of Cahors is a world-famous Malbec used as the basis of a local chilled aperitif served before lunch or dinner. The chilled red wine is combined with splashes of a regional liqueur made from walnuts (eau de noix) and the more famous creme de cassis, made from black currants. The slightly sweet, dry drink cools the palette for the rich food to follow. Enjoy as a cocktail overlooking the famous medieval bridge Pont Valentre at Hotel Divona. See bestwestern.fr

LUNCH

The Cahors morning market on Wednesday and Saturday is laden with sumptuous homemade "takeaway" foods prepared by traiteurs (caterers) who specialise in lunches for those who don't have time to cook for themselves. There are daubes (stews) and vegetable dishes including the wickedly creamy aligot – a basic food offered by the locals to hungry Camino pilgrims over hundreds of years. If you like mashed potato, this will blow your mind. The mash is enriched with finely-chopped garlic, lashings of cream and grated cheese which gives it an elastic texture. Heat and serve with a salad – it's also available in many of the small restaurants in the medieval backstreets. See tourisme-lot.com

DESSERT

Cahors has a dozen tempting boulangeries including one that also produces handmade chocolates, Les Delices Du Valentre. Tarte au noix is yet another deliciously creative way that walnuts have been mingled into the diet. The rich and buttery pastry shell is filled with a sweet mix of crushed walnuts and sugar, sometimes with the addition of dried figs, and topped with a fine layer of icing flavoured with walnut liqueur. It can be devoured with morning coffee or served with creme fraiche as a filling dessert.

(No website: 21 Boulevarde Rue Leon Gambetta, Cahors)

DINNER

The clifftop Chateau Mercues is a spectacular 17th-century castle, once home to the Bishops of Cahors. Now it's a luxurious hotel with a one-star Michelin restaurant (La Dueze) that relies heavily on local produce including duck in all its various forms, and truffles. Chef Julien Poisot has created a light but intense terrine with layers of diced truffles sauteed in butter and foie gras, served with a warm side dish of artichoke hearts and seasonal vegetables. They also make their own wine and it's possible to have a tasting of new and old vintages.

See chateaudemercues.com

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