Postcard from Toulouse, France: Cheese, pastries and menus fluent in French flavor

Above, traditional cassoulet at Le Pyreneen

Parts of numerous animals star in the most famous regional dish of Toulouse – cassoulet. A traditional cassoulet often includes pork loin, pork belly, sausage, neck and breast of lamb and duck confit. All are simmered with white beans for hours and finished off under a flame to give the top a tasty, caramelized char.

We decided if we were going to dive into the dish to do it somewhere well-established, an institution, and chose Le Pyreneen. The brasserie opened in 1925 but appears older and set-ready to serve in a period film with little tinkering. The Mister’s dish was indeed meaty, savory and destination-worthy, but I must confess I opted for seafood and was not disappointed. One thing I did learn on this trip was that I do like duck confit, which is cooked ahead of time and preserved in duck fat until ready to use. We encountered it in numerous dishes and always found it tender and juicy.

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Postcard from Montauban, France: Day-trip to the birthplace of Ingres

Above: Pont Vieux (1335) spanning the Tarn River

A short, half-hour train ride from Toulouse, the ancient city of Montauban was chartered in 1144. The population is more than 60,000, but the narrow streets in the historic center certainly contribute to its small-town feeling.

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Postcard from Toulouse, France: Flavors with a different accent

Above: Vegetarian version of the generous planches found at Prosciutteria

When traveling and eating out every day, sometimes you crave breaking out of the regional mode. A wild abundance of vegetables was our goal when we ducked into Prosciutteria on Rue des Filatiers. We found ourselves well-rewarded with a vegetarian appetizer board, so abundant we shared and ordered nothing else. Well, aside from wine. Subsequently, we found their salads and bruschetone equally as fresh and good.

Rue des Filatiers was our neighborhood, so we tried several other casual spots there as well, all with fine street-side people-watching opportunities. We found ourselves grabbing amply filled empanadas to-go for cocktail-hour snacks from El Almacen – Empanadas. Miss Fish appeared to be brand new, or only recently reopened, and boasted a nice variety of seafood. It seems a place that should prove particularly popular with British travelers missing their fish and chips.

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