August 2020: Foodie Things to do in Toulouse
The city may seem a bit empty this month with everyone “en vacances” but there are still plenty of things to do in and around Toulouse during the month of August! Unfortunately, my two favorite August events, the Fêtes de Vin in Gaillac and Fronton, were cancelled due to our current situation. However, there are still plenty of smaller wine-related events that you can take advantage of.
In my monthly round-up of interesting articles to read, I’ve got a link to an article I wrote about outdoor dining in Toulouse which will be indispensable this month, as well as a look at regional French accents (yes, we have one in Toulouse), the effects of COVID-19 on French winemakers, and more.
As always, take care of our community by wearing your mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining your distance from other people when you do go out to events! Toulouse says “merci!” 😘
Foodie Things to do in Toulouse – August 2020
1 & 2 August – Le Petit Café du Cloître at the Convent des Jacobins
The Convent des Jacobins invites you to take a coffee break in their cloister the first weekend of the month this summer. Order a pastry and a freshly-roasted coffee or artisanal lemonade, sit down and enjoy the magic of the beautiful garden space. Plus, the first Sunday of the month is FREE admission to Toulouse museums! Health and safety measures will be in place. Don’t forget your mask! Event website
2 August – Fête du Vin in Saint-Sardos
Celebrate local wine in this little cooperative appellation northwest of Toulouse. There will be a food market, live music, vintage cars, kids’ activities, and of course wine! Health and safety measures will be in place. Facebook event page
6 & 19 August – Free visit to the Straw Bale Distillery
This summer, the Fronton Tourism Office has organized free tours of this distillery in Vacquiers. Reservations required by phone or email. See the Fronton website for more details.
7 August – Soirée Bistronomique au Domaine Gayrard
Domaine Gayrard, an independent winemaker in the Gaillac AOC, is hosting a dinner that highlights fresh, local products and wines from the domaine. 35 € per person (includes a glass of wine to welcome you, plus 3 courses – you purchase more wine by the bottle or glass as you like). Reservations by phone or email required. Facebook event page
13 August – Place aux Vignerons Indépendants in Cordes-sur-Ciel
Spend an afternoon/evening in one of France’s most picturesque villages with 10 independent winemakers from the Tarn (Gaillac AOC). There will be live music, stands for each winemaker, and other activities for the whole family. Facebook event page
13 August – Marché Gourmand les Buissonnières at Château Clos Mignon
An evening among the vines at this Fronton winery with several winemakers in the AOC presenting tastings designed to compliment the local product on offer, which includes food trucks and other gourmet treats, live music, and children’s games. Reservations required and space is limited due to the current restrictions. Admission for adults is 5 € for a tasting glass that serves as your ticket, free for children. Buy tickets online.
What I’m Writing & Reading
Outdoor Bars & Restaurants to Visit This Summer in Toulouse (Taste of Toulouse blog)
The outdoor bars and restaurants that pop up in and around Toulouse each summer are a great way to enjoy the bounties of the season – both in local products and in our beautiful southwestern summers. From chill and frill-free to immaculately-designed and Instagrammable, this list has something for everyone.
Of Wine, Hand Sanitizer, and Heartbreak (NY Times, possible paywall)
” Between the coronavirus and the Trump tariffs, the French wine market has collapsed. So winemakers are — sadly — sending their excess product off to another life as hand sanitizer.”
Why all the snobbery in France around regional accents? (The Local France)
France’s new Prime Minister Jean Castex is from the Gers, a department west of Toulouse, which has led to a lot of commentary about his southwestern accent from those in the greater Paris region who speak with what is considered a “standard” French accent. It’s interesting to me that, of all of the regions in France, it is the Midi-Pyrénées (the old region surrounding Toulouse, before it was merged with the Languedoc-Roussillon to form Occitanie) that has the highest percentage of speakers with a self-identified accent. Toulousain(e)s quite like our accent, thankyouverymuch.
Why Some Winemakers in Europe Choose to Declassify Their Wines (Vinepair)
“For nearly a century, consumers have looked to appellation boards for regional marks of quality and typicity. Regulations on grape varieties, yields, and aging times were just a few of the many standards implemented to create recognizable, regionally specific wines. In Europe, appellation regulations tend to be stricter than in other areas of the world — which isn’t always a good thing. Now, some winemakers are questioning whether those rules are outdated, and others have gone so far as to abandon regional labeling. VinePair reached out to winemakers, importers, and sommeliers to understand why they’ve declassified their wines.”
Celebrities Could Be Making Good Wine. Instead, They’re Making Bad Wine for Good Money. (Esquire)
Sommelier Victoria James writes a letter to the current crop of celebrity “winemakers” about how they could use their platforms to improve the wine industry and make good wines instead of just relying on marketing-speak to portray large-production commercial wines as “clean” (when they’re really not any different from normal wine).
What I’m Eating
You know that restaurant that so many people have told you to try, but every time you think to go it’s closed? For me, that restaurant has been O Saj, on the Rue Léon Gambetta. Whether it was because they are closed on Sundays or on vacation when I tried to go another time, the stars never aligned for us – until now! After a hot and rather-more-stressful-than-anticipated day, I said to my husband, “Let’s just go somewhere for dinner.” I didn’t want to cook, but I also didn’t want an elaborate multi-hour meal when I was too tired to really appreciate it. So, we decided on Lebanese food and crossed our fingers that they weren’t on vacation.
The specialty at O Saj is the man’ouche, a flatbread cooked on the curved Lebanese “saj” oven, and often covered with Zataar seasoning. You can then put other ingredients on it and roll it into a wrap. We shared the homous o’saj, which had with hummus, tomato, olive oil, parsley, and olives and the zataar labné super extra, where the flatbread was covered with zataar while it baked, then slathered with labneh and tomatoes, cucumber, mint, olive and onions. As delicious as the hummus was – and it is seriously good hummus – we both went a bit crazy for the zataar and labneh. The mix of the spices with the creamy labneh, veggies, and mint was pretty much perfect.
We got one of the wraps as a meal that came with an appetizer of hummus and pita and a fattouch salad. We shared these to leave room for dessert. Originally, we thought we were going to try one of their flatbreads with a sweet topping. Nutella and banana or fig jam and grilled almonds were in the running. However, we asked the owner about their homemade cake of the day, which happened to be a banana cake topped with coconut, and he talked it up so much that we decided to try it. And we were so glad we did! Probably one of the best banana cakes (or bread) that I’ve had in my life.
So, go try O Saj! It now comes highly recommended by me, too. I hope it takes you a lot less time to make it there than it took me. But believe me, I’ll be making up for all that lost time…