Toulouse, nicknamed La Ville Rose (the Pink City) due to it’s centre of red brick buildings, took us to a rather upmarket restaurant. Even though it had been frequented by personalities such as Johnny Hallyday, it’s name of ‘Les Copains d’Abord‘ (Friends First) was certainly taken on as an ethos, giving the place a very cosy and friendly ambiance. We took advantage of the season and indulged in some winter warmers. First up was baked Camembert, a wooden box encasing a mass of gooey goodness topped with crispy bacon. The richness was balanced with a light salad and juicy cranberries. Taking the heavy dish to the next level, our main course was the regional speciality Cassoulet. This classic French meal comes in many varieties, all are rich, but the Toulouse take is the heaviest including duck confit, fresh lard and the infamous Toulouse sausage slow cooked with haricot beans and vegetables. Safe to say that we were so full that we couldn’t move for a while afterwards, even though we shared the cassoulet!

Hearty Cassoulet

The following day we did a bit of market hopping to buy ingredients for a salad lunch (something a bit lighter after the previous evening’s dinner!). The first was the indoor prestigious Marché Victor Hugo, taking its name from the great man who wrote ‘as the purse is emptied the heart is filled.’ This quote is perfectly fitting for the market experience and for our tour in general, spending meaningless metal in exchange for experiences that fill our hearts (and our bellies)! In this case our communal purse gradually became lighter and lighter as we created our salad platter… Dried magret de canard, Saucisse Sèche, and small medallions of creamy Rocamadour goats cheese.

Duck specialities and much more…

After scaling the indoor market from top to bottom, we moved onwards to the more local outdoor market that was packed with bags of character… and salad. We really were surrounded by lettuce leaves of all kinds, the Toulouse shoppers manically filling and passing over plastic cartons full of their chosen goodness . We joined in the activities and bought some couer de chene to add to our lunch followed by a piece of fouace from Aveyron. This brioche variety was topped with sugar and scented with orange blossom. We nibbled on our sweet treat whilst walking back to our friend’s apartment to whip up our lunchtime spread… and it was delicious! It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Local Market full of Vibrant Goods

So we left Toulouse, purses ever so slightly emptied, but hearts and tummies most definitely filled!