More than simply an agricultural estate, Agrïa is the ideal place to discover the flavours of Mauritius. From farm to fork, the fruits, vegetables and game meat that Agrïa offers reflect the effort put into production and the team’s ability to innovate in line with the rhythm of the seasons, establishing Bel Ombre as an agritourism destination. Immerse yourself in this enchanting land in the south of Mauritius.
The land of abundance
The fertile lands of Agrïa are rich in resources: palm trees, coffee, gourds (pumpkin, bottle gourd, butternut), tubers (cassava, beetroot, radish), leafy vegetables (lettuce, leek, greens), aromatic herbs, (coriander, basil, lemongrass), fruits (banana, pineapple, papaya)… hundreds of flavours blossom there as the seasons turn. To ensure a successful harvest and guarantee the health of consumers, Denis Montegoo, farm manager, swears by sustainable agriculture. The main principles of this farming method dictate the implementation of solutions that are respectful of nature and limit the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
“We rely on filao trees to reduce the effects of the sea air on the nets and greenhouses – we have two of these, every 2500 m2 – and to act as physical barriers. Repellents made from natural ingredients are used against smaller pests, and so-called ‘host’ fields divert these from the main crops. Pheromone traps are also used to control pest populations. Finally, to restore the balance of this ecosystem, beehives have been installed at the entrance to the greenhouses to encourage pollination, and organic waste is used to nourish our soils,” Denis says, detailing the holistic approach he utilises.
Recipes from around the world
Building on their own expertise, having learnt to live in symbiosis with nature, the Agrïa team also knows how to expertly elevate the flavours of their products: “these Mauritian terroir products are spiced up with a wide variety of flavours, to enhance the pleasure of discovery,” says Cathy Ferrando, who is a consultant and muse to the chefs at Heritage Resorts and Le Chamarel restaurant.
“As a child, I spent my holidays with my aunt, who was a chef and a cookbook author. She passed on her passion for cooking to me. There is something about food that speaks to my soul and comes to me naturally.”
Today Cathy works alongside the group’s chefs to develop Agrïa’s recipes. Together, they balance tradition and innovation, adding just the right dosage of local spices and savoir- faire to recipes from all over the world.
Carrot fruit paste, butternut jam, crystallised olives or ladyfingers, palm pickle, samosas with wild boar confit… a lot of testing and exploration goes on to develop the dishes that will reveal the rich flavours of Bel Ombre.
More than 20 products are concocted in Cathy’s ‘‘flavour laboratory’’ to excite the taste buds of all those – Mauritians and non-natives – who are on the lookout for unusual culinary experiences.
The animal kingdom
“A few miles away, we meet Nicolas Chaveau, master breeder and head of hunting operations since 1991. “Our deer, pheasants, and boar live in the wild on the reserve, or on farms with humane conditions. After all, these are precious and rare game animals. We are constantly working to improve their pastures.” Chaveau says.
Low in fat and of high quality, these precious meats are highly valued by Mauritians, and by the chefs working on the island. Determined to please this discerning audience, Nicolas, with the help of his colleagues, transforms these products in the old building that used to house the sugar factory workers’ sports club.
Rillettes, sausages (Creole or barbecue), biltong, burgers… Agrïa’s meat shop invents and reinvents new ways to use deer and wild boar meat: “We try to improve our basics while giving ourselves time for original creations. We have been able to offer deer terrine or wild boar head cheese,” says Bertrand Sidambarompoullé.
Bertrand has been in charge of the meat shop since October 2020. The trained butcher, who is from Reunion Island, manages operations and ensures that HACCP hygiene standards are met. He is also involved in creating the product range:
“Our goal is to democratise these delicious and healthy meats. We look for the perfect blend of spices to bring out the best of the meat, ensuring that they are perfectly suited to the Mauritian palate”, he adds. Authentic ambitions, a passionate team, an innovative vision – it seems that Agrïa has mastered the secret ingredients for the perfect culinary journey.
Agria’s e-shop celebrates the seasons
Established after the first lockdown, with the aim of contributing to the collective effort to deal with a new reality, Agria’s online shop celebrated its first anniversary this year. “The excitement was immediate. We received many orders from all over the island!”, says Cathy Ferrando. Visitors to the fun and intuitive e-shop will find Agrïa’s local products that change
with the seasons, along with recipe ideas from around the world.