Sousa & Labourdette is what happens when two men share the same two passions: the love of foie gras, and a deep respect for nature.
The story begins in 1812 when Eduardo's Danish grandfather moved to Extremadura, then as now one of the wildestand remotest areas of Spain.
Wild geese often flew over the family farm, which lay just under the birds' migration path. But Don Martín noticedsomething extraordinary: some of these geese touched down in his farm and stayed on, attracted by the area's wetland habitat, its mild climate and rich food resources.
The Sousa family's geese are not strictly wild, but are kept on a free-range basis and retain their instinct to gorge on acorns and grasses during the winter months. This means that the family are able to produce something as rare as it is remarkable – a foie gras that's entirely natural, sustainable and cruelty-free.
For many years the Sousas produced foie gras only for domestic consumption, potting the fat goose livers as presents or as a special treat for the family. But when Eduardo took over the farm, he decided it was time to let the rest of the world into his secret.
Diego Labourdette belongs to a family with its roots in south-western France - the heartland of traditional foie gras production.
Diego, who has a PhD in Ecology, spent five years studying the migratory patterns of European birds and their autumn journey from the chilly North to the wetlands of Andalucía and Extremadura.
It was during his research that Diego met Eduardo, and was able to confirm the natural capacity of wild geese in Spain's deep south to fatten up their livers in preparation for the long migration.
And so Sousa & Labourdette was born. Sharing their experience and “savoir faire”, the two business partners began work on the ethical production of a unique foie gras. Their product is based on traditional French recipes but obtained from semi-wild geese raised on a free-range system, respecting the animals' natural life-cycle.
Migratory geese have a natural capacity to create and store fat in their livers. This fat, in the form of lipids, is the fuel they need for their long journeys across the continent.
Ancient Egyptian inscriptions dating from 2500BC suggest that the inhabitants of the Nile Delta had observed this seasonal phenomenon, and that goose liver was already valued as a supreme delicacy. From the very beginning, then, foie gras in its true form was both natural and seasonal, as well as a superlative gastronomic product.
Over the centuries, however, this connection to the natural world was broken. The Greeks and Romans began to imitate nature by force-feeding geese with figs to fatten their livers artificially, thereby disconnecting the animals from their natural migration cycles and extending the process throughout the year.
Sousa & Labourdette's philosophy is twofold: a return to the essence of foie gras, combined with a strong commitment to the welfare of the geese and their environment.
The eternal question. Goose foie gras is generally considered to be a much more superior product, the original succulent treat. But nowadays duck is more easily available and much more affordable, since it is also easier to produce.
Compare and contrast. Most of the world's foie gras is obtained from geese that are force-fed corn mash under the 'gavage' system, massively boosting the growth of the liver by artificial means.
Sousa & Labourdette's geese, meanwhile, feast on the wild foods they find all around them in the unspoilt landscape of Extremadura. Windfall fruit, wild seeds and grasses, and most importantly, acorns – the same acorns, rich in cholesterol-reducing oleic acid, that form the diet of Extremadura's famous ibérico pig. Our production, obtained from the European greylag goose Anser anser, is entirely seasonal and natural. A whole year is required to produce a small, uniformly coloured, regular and fine-textured foie gras. Its superbly delicate flavour and characteristic golden colour (which derives mainly from wild yellow lupin seeds) is a direct consequence of the birds' varied natural diet and their high quality of life, allowing them to fly and graze at will.
Sousa & Labourdette is the world's only ethical producer of foie gras, and its production is strictly limited._
Sousa & Labourdette foie gras is produced according to the historically authentic method, taking advantage of the migratory instincts of wild geese._
Our geese are raised in a free-range system on the extensive grazing land of the dehesa (a semi-wild forest ecosystem cover-ing much of south-west Spain). The feed is 100% natural, consisting of wild grasses, seeds, figs and holm-oak acorns rich in natural oils._
Natural foie gras can be obtained only once in a year, during the winter season._
Our foie gras is smaller than others on the market, but boasts a much more concentrated aroma and flavour._
Though rare in Spain, goose production was common at one time in the region of Fuente de Cantos (Extremadura). Geese were kept on large fincas (farms) owned by wealthy members of the clergy, who were notoriously fond of the pleasures of the table. In succeeding centuries the tradition died out, but Sousa & Labourdette see themselves as pioneers in its revival.
The Sousa family has always valued goose rearing as a sustainable and low-impact farming practice with a highly sought-after finished product. Their free-range geese are partly domesticated, but are visited annually by their wild cousins, thus renewing the gene pool and maintaining the feeding instincts of the established flock.
When autumn comes round the geese begin to feed intensively, gorging day and night, in preparation for a journey that will never take place. The animals are captured during the night by dazzling them with powerful lights. They are slaughtered humanely, in silence. Sousa & Labourdette's commitment to ethical farming has been rewarded with both the organic label and the quality seal of Spain's National Association of Ethical Food Producers (ANPAE), guaranteeing the producer's commitment to conservation and animal welfare.
The peerless quality of Sousa & Labourdette foie gras has been discovered by the global gastronomic community. Within months of its launch on the market it was awarded a prestigious Coup de Coeur prize at the 2006 SIAL International Food Salon in Paris. Available in very limited quantities, it has been praised by internationally reputed chefs like Dan Barber, of Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan. Dan once served it at a special dinner held in honour of President Barack Obama. A passionate enthusiast, he describes our foie gras as 'the culinary experience of a lifetime'.
Our foie gras is precious, pure and simple. That's why we prefer a recipe that preserves its natural flavour and delicate consistency. Sousa & Labourdette follow the French practice of canning the foie gras following a brief steaming process, while the product is presented in a hermetically sealed Kilner jar.
Fully Cooked Foie Gras: The most traditional way to prepare foie gras, fully cooked foie gras is preserved in its own fat and sterilized; this type of foie gras will be stored in a cool dark place for a long period of time. Like wine, preserved foie gras ages gracefully. Packaged in classic farm-style jar.
Just as we choose the cooking recipe that best preserves the original flavour and consistency of our foie gras, werecommend you do the same when tasting it.
Here at Sousa & Labourdette, we keep it simple. Our favourite way with foie gras is to serve it simply on toasted brioche with, on the side, a few caramelised apple slices or a really good chutney.
As for wine, the question is a little trickier. Surprisingly, foie gras matches
well with various wines.
With a white wine
In France, foie gras is served either as a starter or just before dessert, and is often served with Sauternes, a sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region. Equally, a soft dry white can also work well, especially if the foie gras comes with a sweet garnish such as caramelised onions or fig jam.
Important disclaimer: Our non force-feeding goose foie gras is obtained naturally when geese prepare their migration, which occurs only once in a year. It is a natural process depending on many different factors including weather conditions and cannot be forced. Therefore, we cannot commit to any effective delivery or delivery date.
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