Eating well is important to the people of Toulouse and visitors will be delighted at the choice of French and world cuisine offered in its many restaurants. Not surprisingly, there are a number of gastronomic specialities which bear the city’s name. Toulouse has its own version of that staple of the region’s rustic cuisine, cassoulet. This slow cooked casserole of white haricot beans, goose, duck and sausages, garlic and spices is named after the deep earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Geese, ducks, turkeys and pigs are bred throughout Haute-Garonne and quality confits and salaisons (preserved and salted meats) are well worth sampling. Saucisse (sausage) de Toulouse is made to an old recipe and has had its own label since 1992. Violets, the floral emblem of Toulouse, can be seen as pretty mauve crystallized flowers decorating all manner of confectionery from madeleines to ice cream. Even Haute-Garonne’s robust red AOC Cotes du Fronntonais wine, made from the rare black Negrette grape brought back from Cyprus by the Crusaders, is said to have a scent of violets along with blackberry and bilberry. Try a glass and see if you agree.
Along with Muret, Luchon is another place to sample good food and it also has its own special stew - Pistache - made with mutton and vegetables cooked in wine with plenty of garlic.Visit the ancient hall in Cadours town square between June and November to see buyers from around France bidding for the region’s famous violet garlic - its subtle flavour is great with lamb and chicken.
As in other parts of the Pyrenees there are plenty of local goats and ewes milk cheeses to round off your meal. See if you can find Pitchounet, made in the Parc des Grandes Causses; it’s soft and with all the taste of sweet ewes milk. Don’t forget to take a glass of good Armagnac from across the border in Gers, with your coffee.