Toulouse is a special place – its location in the South West of France, close to the Spanish border means that its food is a distinctive blend of France and Spain. It’s rustic, authentic, and unique to the region.
Visitors to the Pink City (so called because of the vivid red bricks used to build it) should immerse themselves not just in the culture, but definitely should take time out to sample the wonderful foodie delights on offer.
If you are unsure where to start, or what to include in your gastronomic tour, then below is a guide to the most famous dishes that you surely can’t leave without trying.
Although many variations of this dish are found all over France, Toulouse is famed for its traditional stew. Cassoulet is so called because of the casserole dish that it’s cooked in, wives would prepare the stew in these pots, and when the local baker had finished baking the bread for the day, the wives would all descend on the bakery with their pots, and place them in the ovens to cook while they were still hot.
It’s made with duck confit, Toulouse sausage (more on that later) haricot beans and pork. It’s said that no two recipes are the same in the city, each restaurant has their own secret spice or ingredients, but all feature the above ingredients as a basis. Traditionally it’s served quite simply with some local wine and grated cheese.
In the same way that Champagne is protected, Toulouse sausages are only made in the city of Toulouse. Although it has only three ingredients, pork, salt and pepper, it’s protected status means that there are strict instructions on how it should be made. There must be 75% lean pork, and 25% pork breast. The sausage is contained in a natural skin and is always 3cm in diameter. It has a distinct pinkish colour which makes it instantly recognisable. It’s usually eaten grilled, or in a confit, or in a cassoulet.
Foie gras, confit and duck breast
Duck is extremely popular in Toulouse, whether it’s made into a confit (preserved in fat), made into foie gras, or duck breast just served on its own. It’s also used to make patés and terrines. Goose too is often used to make sumptuous dishes in Toulouse.
But it’s not all about the savoury, sweet dishes also feature prominently on a Toulouse menu. So what can you expect for dessert?
This flower is often eaten in Toulouse, it can simply be added to salads on its own, or treated with vinegar. However, it also forms the basis of many sweet dishes, such as biscuits, crystallised sweets or mixed in with honey.
Cakes and biscuits
Those that live in Toulouse will certainly have a sweet tooth, as the city is awash with confectioners and patisseries.
One cake that is typical for Toulouse is Fénétra, made with meringue and marzipan, flavoured with candied lemons and all coated with apricot marmalade.
Caraque is a sweet shortbread biscuit topped with ganache and iced with green fondant.
Sweets and chocolate
Now we’re getting to the good stuff!
In Toulouse, you won’t know which way to turn, one of the biggest choices you may have to make is between a dark chocolate sweet called the Pavé du Capitole or Cachou Lajaunie, its ingredients are all natural and a closely guarded secret.
We have a number of tours that all stop in Toulouse, so you are spoilt for choice if you want to walk, cycle or cruise down the canal.
So whether you fancy cycling down the Canal de Garonne or following in the footsteps of Rick Stein and cruise through some of Gascony’s wonderful countryside we've got the perfect tour for you.
Whatever you fancy, just make sure you eat and drink your fill while in Toulouse!