Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Cassoulet in Castelnaudary...

The birth place of Cassoulet ... it was only a 2 and a half hour drive from where we were sampling wines so I thought it'd be rude not to! Teamed with a night in Carcassone it was hard for my better half to say no too. The Cardogan Guide to the south of France declared this "the best gourmet restaurant in town". Perhaps it was... 20 years ago! The decor was incredibly OTT and out of date but this was more amusing than off putting. It was cold and raining outside and we were pleased we'd made it in time for lunch sessions last orders (2pm!)
There were many pre fixe menus ranging from €13 through to €45 ... not wanting to go crazy for lunch we picked a 4 course affair at €20. 

Foie  Gras wrapped in sausage meat then a thin rolling of lard covered in trotter jelly galore!
as you can see from the photo, the late seventies decor also made it onto my plate along with tasteless tomatoes and olives(?!)
The Cassoulet came with 2 thin chipolata  sized sausage, a piece of pork knuckle and a slice of pork belly along with a  piece of goose which i couldn't work out where on the goose it was from as it was so small and dry! The beans were plentiful of course and delicious too I just thought the whole dish (which was for both of us to share!) was very mean on the meat. 
After the cassoulet arrived "faisselle de fromage blanc" which was homemade fromage frais swimming in cream sprinkled with white sugar which took me straight back to my childhood.
Finally we got creme caramel with a generous amount of liquor. We had this with a lovely bottle of corbieres.

Here is the Chef ... Monsieur Francois Gibassier ... He probably thought I was some guide book critic! We had a lovely lunch and for the price it wasn't bad. I have a theory that if you are known for one thing, and its as much as a faff as cassoulet you're going to get a bit lazy and cut a few corners after doing the same dish day in day out for 20 odd years ... so Castelnaudary may be the birth place of cassoulet and you may be able to get it in every hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar and bistro in town but it may not be the best you'll ever have!

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