Ceret may be a popular destination for art tourists, hikers and long-term holidaymakers, but there are no souvenir shops (thankfully) and aside from picking up some art from one of the galleries and buying beautiful Catalan textile products from La Bohème, there’s little to buy – which makes the supermarket a great place to scout for affordable souvenirs. Here are some Ceret take-homes I’ve found for you:
These traditional preserves are made by Confiture Artisanale Val de Sournia in the Sournia Valley, a short drive from Ceret. They say the sunny climate and lack of pollution there creates perfect conditions for organic fruit cultivation and the ‘Roussillon Red’ apricots, cherries, and figs grown there are especially delicious. Not only are these jams produced from organically grown fruit, the company employs people with disabilities who might not otherwise have work opportunities. A six-pack of small jars of strawberry, fig, peach, apricot, peach, and cherries cost just 2.50 euros!
Languedoc-Roussillon, and especially the French Pyrénées, is famous for its tasty honey, from rich creamy honey to golden honey fragrant with thyme and rosemary. Rayon d’Or is a cooperative of some thirty beekeepers who have been in the profession for several generations and boast they make the finest honey around. They also produce a scrummy spiced cake like ginger bread and Bonbons au Miel, Arôme Réglisse, which have a natural aromatic flavour due to the fragrant nectar of the flowers the bees thrive on. The producers have started a blog, where they write about everything from their sadness at finding some bees had abandoned hives due to the rainy weather and that last year it took some 15,000 hives and 60 million bees to make their luscious honey.
They love their nougat or tourons in Catalonia and I have a soft spot for it too. There are many different varieties around but Lor Tourons de Catalogne Torta Impérial is produced in Perpignan, and is made from according to authentic recipes dating to 1874. This ‘torta’ is a light, chewy nougat, made with almonds, and it has a thin, crispy casing which, although it tastes like paper when eaten alone, you are indeed meant to eat, and it’s delish when sliced in sections and eaten like a cake. They also make marzipan, chocolate, and croquant.
Almost every market has a stall, and most supermarkets have a stand, selling Charcuterie Catalane products, made in the French and Spanish Pyrenees. You’ll recognize the products from their red and yellow striped tags. They do a wide range of dried sausages, from fat to thin, garlic to peppery, but we love the Catalan Paprika sausage, covered in dried red pimientos. It’s not as hot as chorizo (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but has a nice mild spice to it.
Another proudly Catalan product, as demonstrated by the red and yellow Catalan striped ‘Product of Catalunya Nord’ label, the Cap D’Ona Blonde Bière is bottled by Brasserie Artisanale del Albères. It was heartening to find it as the shelves here tend to have more Heineken and San Miguel than they do French beer. Terence’s verdict: “A decent, light, refreshing beer that’s definitely worth trying when you’re here.”
Wine books may devote far fewer pages to wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region than they do the Bordeaux or Loire but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. On the contrary, they’re wonderful, and you’ll fine many wine shops specializing in wines from the region, such as Les Indigenes in Perpignan (which also specializes in organic wines), and – refreshingly – supermarkets with shelves devoted to wines and very little space given to other regions. See our post on Languedoc-Roussillon wines for specific recommendations.
Take-Homes is a series of posts from each destination in which I recommend quintessential local souvenirs for you to take home, including those of the edible kind. My suggestions, and my own purchase choices, are based on sustainable travel criteria: they must be things that are authentically local, that are traditionally made by locals, or things locally produced that are used on an everyday basis by locals, and could include anything from handicrafts to regional food produce. See our previous posts on Morocco, Jerez (food and flamenco), Barcelona, and Ceret (Catalan cloth products).