Last year I visited Le Cabestan Ferme du Pêcheur in Sainte-Terre near Saint Emilion, which was so unique and fun! I learned something totally new and unfamiliar…the lamproie (lamprey eel). David and Sabine Durand make these prehistoric creatures their livelihood. This third generation fishing ‘farm’, which is seasonal work until early May, is unique. It is completely dependant on the seasonal migration of older eels, making their last swim upstream from the sea.
The Durand family has an incredibly well-run operation, from fishing to cooking to presentations for kids and adults. If you want to see something out of the ordinary, taste something very regional (like the lamproie rillettes or slowly cooked eel in red wine) or learn about an unusual species – this would be the place to do it. Visits are 15 euro per person and include a tour, video, and tasting (degustation).
Cooking demos or lessons can also be arranged in advance, like the one I took last week. It’s a really interesting cleaning process, explained very well by Sabine. Ultimately, the ancient method of cooking is relatively simple…slowly boiling the eel in red wine with leeks, bay leaf, salt and pepper (and a secret herb Sabine adds to her particular recipe). You even end up with your own dinner to take home.
The lamproie is out of favor and not eaten regularly, even locally. It’s seen as a special dish for holidays and events. However, some restaurants in Saint Emilion, Sainte-Terre and even Langon are serving up the dish. Some chefs have included more recent cooking techniques, like sautéing the eel with a dusting of flour before stewing. Hopefully keeping people informed, as they do with school visits, and teaching visitors will keep this local, seasonal product around for the next generation.
Le Cabestan Ferme du Pecher can be found on Facebook or on their website http://www.lamproie.fr/ which is filled with more information, photos and videos / 2 Port Peytor, Sainte-Terre 33350 / Phone +33 (0)6 20 89 41 84 or contact directly through Facebook and website / Hours vary depending on the season.
When live eels are not available at the farm, you can also visit the Jardin de la Lamproie museum to see live specimens at 231 Rue du Général de Gaulle, 33350 Sainte-Terre (5 minute drive).
*Only available in French at this time.