Hurray for Cassoulet

October 24, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Once inside the old city of Carcassonne we were hungry for more than medieval history. Like invaders of times long past, we wanted to take the city for all its bounty.

After a quick scouting mission of the many restaurants, cafés and brasseries we decided on a quiet spot with a promising upper outdoor terrace. Restaurant La Tour Davejean had an extensive menu, but we wanted to try the regional specialty: cassoulet.

We started with a local bubble, a brut Blanquette de Limoux from Salasar (€22) to celebrate our first day in the South of France.

“Le menu,” is always a great way to order in France. You pay a set fee and get to choose a first course, a main and a dessert. Sometimes coffee is even included. Our €16 menu started with a choice of salads. There was a mixed garden salad, a salad topped with smoked herring and a salad with baked brie. They were all fresh and lightly dressed.

Cassoulet is an edible medieval experience. I have been reading The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel, a story of people who lived in caves after the ice age. They rendered fat from large animals, including mammoths, to use in cooking to make it through the winter. I was reminded of this story as I ate the cassoulet. It was full of fat and protein and was a meal of mammoth proportion that would definitely stick to your ribs in cold weather.

The dish is mainly large pale beans. They are cooked with sausage, a duck leg, and a generous amount of duck fat. The French version of baked pork and beans — it’s tasty, but very heavy. It is almost necessary to wash this down with some red wine, which we did.

My father, who can’t eat pork, decided instead to order the breast of duck served with orange sauce and accompanied with zucchini and roasted potatoes.

There was quite a list of desserts to choose from, the only problem was finding a place to fit the dessert after stuffing ourselves full of cassoulet. There was a chocolate cake, like a rich brownie served with whipped cream and crème anglais. There was also an apple tart. Or for those who have difficulty with decisions, there was a mixed dessert plate with a taste of everything and a café espresso to wash it all down.

The total for five to have a full lunch, including two bottles of wine, dessert, coffee, gratuity and tax was €124 (C$200-ish or about $40 each).


Restaurant La Tour Davejean
Tel: 04-68-71-60-63
32 Rue du Plo.
La Cite, Carcassonne