It’s my last full day in Toulouse. I fly to Lille on Wednesday for a four-day stay.
On Monday, Jean borrowed his sister’s car and took me on a day-long road trip into parts further south in France.
In Carcassonne, we had a glass of red wine and a plate of Spanish sausage, cheese, sardines and ham served on fresh bread coated with a thin layer of tomato-eee-like sauce. The wine – AOP Malpere – is made from grapes grown on land tended to by members of Jean’s family.
Like with good IPA’s, I’m ham-handed at describing positive characteristics of excellent red wine but I know one when I taste one. AOP Malpere has a zest and a depth that tingles the tongue – even after the first sip.
Another red in the same class is Leon Barral’s “Faugeres.” Jacques turned me on to Faugeres. It’s really incredible. A US-based wine seller wrote a really great description of Barral’s techniques and the link to that is here.
A bottle of Faugeres cost 28 euros at a local wine shop here in Toulouse. I bought one for the special dinner at Chez Fabian et Sonia tonight but the guys here say you can get an almost-as-delish bottle of red for under 10 euros.
After Carcassone, we drove another 50 minutes to the south and hit the Mediterranean. Jean knows a seafood shack on the water called “La Perle Groissanaise” in the town of Groissan.
You have to cut through what looks like a large community of small, densely situated beach homes on stilts to reach La Perle. Most of the homes appeared unoccupied at the moment but Jean says they’re very much abuzz during the summer months when the French take holidays. It was my first-ever visit to the Mediterranean and it was as blue as blue can be.
At La Perle, we ordered a dozen oysters and a small glass jug of the local white and sat on an inlet or cove connected to the sea (pictured above). It was very quiet. Fisherman with poles appeared to have no luck and guys in the water harvested squid? or perhaps oysters in the distance. As the sun went down, we had another small jug of white. The plate of oysters served to us contained way more than a dozen with a pile of fresh shrimp on top. It all was as fresh as fresh can be. We slurped sea out of the shells after digging out each oyster. Fantastique!
As we returned to the main roadway back to Toulouse, we were surrounded by grape fields. Some had been harvested already but many acres of almost-ready red “raisins” could be seen just hanging there to be picked.
I slept through the debate Monday night but the headline in Le Monde on Tuesday morning gave me a summarization: “Etats Unis : avantage Clinton.”
I ate lunch Tuesday on the other side of the Garonne at Solaneko. A friend here has just started working the kitchen at Solaneko. She was busy learning and preparing as I sat at a small table near the entrance.
I had the eglefin marine au miso, legumes, salade, riz and miso soupe. It was a flavorful presentation of whitefish, veggies and perhaps the best cup of miso I’ve ever had. Dessert was a small pancake stuffed with fruit.
Talk to you next from the extreme north of France.