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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 wildest and remotest areas of Spain.
Wild geese often flew over the family farm, which lay just under the birds’ migration path. But Don Martín noticed something 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 wander freely around their 500ha property, thus retaining 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 to 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 4500BC 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 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 migration journey. The animals are captured during the night by dazzling them with powerful lights and foie gras is harvested.
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 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.
Most of the foie gras on the market are obtained from geese or ducks that have been force-fed with the “gavage” system with the aim of growing their livers.
On the contrary, Sousa & Labourdette’s geese, feed themselves with all the food that they found in their path through the more than 500 hectares in the preserved landscape of Extremadura. Pastures, seeds (mostly lupine’s seeds), olives, figs and mainly, acorns – the same acorns rich in oleic acid that reducethe cholesterol and that composethe famous Extremadura’s Iberian “bellota” pork diet.
Our production, obtained from the European Greylag goose "Anser anser", is completely natural and therefore, seasonal. We need a whole year (compared to 3 to 4 months for the force-fed geese) to produce a small foie gras of uniform colour and a regular and fine texture. Its extraordinary and delicate taste and its characteristic golden colour (coming mainly from wild yellow lupines seeds) are the straight result of their varied and natural diet and of their high quality lifestyle, flying and grazing freely.
We choose to cook our foie gras Sousa & Labourdette in the French fashion without conservatives aiming to keep as much as possible its natural taste and texture. Either en conserve or mi-cuit,we steam our foie gras in Kilner jars hermetically closed, just seasoned with salt and fresh pepper.
The international gastronomic community has praised the peerless quality of the foie gras Sousa & Labourdette in 2006 during the SIAL, International Agro-alimentary Paris’ fair, winning the prestigious Coup de Cœur award. Only available in limited quantities due to its production system, our foie gras has been praised by recognised chefs such as Dan Barber from the Blue Hill restaurant in New York. Dan has honoured us serving our foie gras during a special dinner organised for the President Barack Obama. A truly passionate, the chef described our foie gras as “the best culinary experience of his life”.
Nature provides us all the elements that make our foie gras, a unique foie gras: GOSSE’s foie gras, WHOLE foie gras, ETHICAL and EXQUISIT.
Sousa & Labourdette is one of the few ethical producers 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 covering much of south-west Spain)._
Natural foie gras can be obtained only once in a year, during the winter season_
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We would recommend both for cuit (canned) and mi-cuit (half-canned) foie gras, to break the vacuum and keep the jar opened in the fridge for several hours (minium 5 hours) before tasting. This action will oxygenate the foie gras and, as for good wines, offer the best of its flavour. To reach the perfect texture, we recommend to take the jar out of the fridge 15 mn before tasting. Foie gras should be chilled, but not ice-cold.
Our tasting suggestion is to serve our foie gras as a starter when the food palate is still neutral, by cutting, not slicing, small chunks of foie gras from the jar and placing, not spreading, them on freshly made toasts or, better, French brioche, with some flakes of Maldon salt over them. Once in the mouth, just let it melt by pressing it to the palate, and enjoy the experience.
As to pairing wine, the luxurious nature of foie gras calls for vintage wines, either white, red, Porto or Champagne. Our recommendation would go to Yquem, Sauternes for a sweet traditional pairing; Champagne, particularly rosé, for a modern pairing; or Alsatian white wines, such as Pinot Gris or Gewurstraminer for an alternative pairing.
If wishing to add sides, you could try pairing our foie gras with non-citrus fruits chutneys, such as apples, figs, or more exotic, mango.
We wish you a wonderful tasting!
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