July 2020: Foodie Things to Do in Toulouse
Here’s our round-up of food and drink-related things to do in Toulouse this month (July 2020). We’ve got a new pub opening, events at vineyards close to Toulouse, and more! However, with the return of small-scale events and dining, it’s more important than ever to do your part to care for our community and stop the transmission of COVID-19. Please continue to physically distance when in public ↔️ and use masks 😷 while indoors and when distancing is not possible – and don’t forget to keep washing your hands often! Local businesses are relying on YOU to model responsible behavior so that we don’t risk more business closures during a second wave of the virus. Merci beaucoup!
Foodie Things to Do in Toulouse – July 2020
Online Cheese Workshops with Taste of Toulouse
Whether or not you’re actually IN Toulouse, you can have fun learning everything you need to know to be confident about French cheese or mastering the art of the beautiful cheese plate. View schedule and reserve your place. We’ve even scheduled a French Cheese 101 workshop on July 14th, so you can celebrate Bastille Day with French cheese!
9 & 23 July – Cooking Classes with Wine at Domaine le Roc
Domaine le Roc is one of my favorite winemakers in Fronton, just north of Toulouse. This summer, you can take part in a cooking class followed by a wine tasting (to see which wine goes best with the dish, of course) and then leave with a meal for 2, ready to eat at home! Classes are limited to 10 people each to respect current health rules. View the details on Domaine le Roc’s website.
17 July – Opening for The Botanist Pub
The owners of The Black Lion and The Four Monkeys, two mainstays of the Toulouse pub scene, are opening a new pub near Compans-Caffarelli. They’re taking the name seriously, as this 2-floor pub/restaurant promises to be “entièrement végétalisés.” Friday, July 17 is their inauguration party. See the Facebook event page for more details.
18 July – Cocktail masterclass at L’Heure du Singe
Join in on this once-per-month cocktail making class at L’Heure du Singe, one of the best cocktail bars in Toulouse. Facebook event page.
18 July – Soirée Bodega organized by the Viggerons de Saint-Sardos
Reserve your places in advance for this fun evening with the cooperative winemakers of the small AOC of Saint-Sardos, close to Toulouse. There will be 2 food trucks where you can purchase your meal, then reserved seating that will respect social distancing. Only 3 € per adult (includes one glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage), not including your meal. There will be a banda (traditional brass band) and the dress code is “wear a red bandana.” More details on their Facebook event page.
26-27 July – Pique-nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant
Support local independent winemakers and have a great time during this annual weekend celebration that takes place all over France. Winemakers near Toulouse will be organizing picnics, tastings, and other things to do. Bring your family and your own picnic, meet local winemakers, taste their wines, and enjoy a day among the vines! Visit the event website to find a winemaker near you. As of publishing this, Château de Therride and Domaine Gayrard also have Facebook event pages with information about what they are offering.
What I’m reading
Are French Restaurants More Likely Than American to Survive the Lockdown? (Paris by Mouth)
A great look at the different situations that restaurants on two continents find themselves in due to the COVID-19 crisis and how different philosophies of government assistance play out in the survival of the local businesses that form the cornerstones of our communities.
Lessons from the Museum of Foie Gras (French Crossroads)
Chris O’Brien, an American journalist living in Toulouse, visits the Foie Gras Museum and talks with the founder about the history of foie gras and his approach to making it.
Ten Fascinating Wines to Look Out for from South West France (Wine Scholar Guild blog)
Wine writer Andrew Jeffords calls the southwest “France’s greatest undiscovered wine region” and gives wine lovers a list of 10 wines to snatch up if you’re able to find them! The list includes some of my favorite winemakers from the region, such as Domaine le Roc (Fronton), Domaine d’Escausses (Gaillac), and Domaine Cauhapé (Jurançon). Seriously, we’re so luck to be in this region that provides such good value for money, with high-quality wines at affordable prices!
French Cheesemaker Accidentally Creates New “Lockdown” Cheese (The Local France)
In my cheese workshops, I always talk about how big of a role cheese ageing plays in the finished product. You can even invent a totally new type of cheese by forgetting about it (and therefore changing the ageing process). At least something good came out of confinement!
Baking Bread in Lyon (The New Yorker)
An American learns how to bake bread in Lyon and discovers a way of life and the taste of terroir.
It’s Time to Decolonize Wine (Punch)
As part of my personal fight against racism, I’ve been reading a lot of writing from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the wine and food industries. This article hit home because it details how even the words we use to describe wine can be alienating and excluding to those who come from different cultural backgrounds with different sensory frames of reference. As a woman, I’m also a minority in the wine industry – but even so, I acknowledge my privilege that traditional wine tasting notes and flavor charts are biased towards Eurocentric flavors, and thus easy for me to understand and identify with.
P.S. Just because you don’t hear about racism as much in France, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist here (it does – it’s just different). The problem tends to be glossed over due to lack of concrete data. Did you know that there was a law passed in 1978 that prevents the government from collecting statistics on race, ethnicity, religion, or political opinion? The policy of the French state is to be “color blind” (once you are French, you’re French). So there are no statistics on police interactions with BIPOC, no statistics on the proportion of BIPOC that live in disadvantaged areas, no statistics comparing income levels, or any other marker of racial inequality. If you’d like learn more about this debate in France, I’d recommend reading this editorial in The Local: Is France Really “Color Blind” or Just Blind to Racism? Wine Enthusiast has a list of Black-owned wine labels worldwide that is the result of extensive research and crowd-sourcing. There are only 4 in France (and 3 of the 4 owners are from the US, with the 4th originally from the West Indies). Why aren’t there more? This is an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s worth having.
What I’m eating
The Toulousain habit of dining out and having a coffee or apéro with friends has been returning to full force (sometimes more than I think it should, especially with large groups of people), but thankfully we can take advantage of the many options to dine “en terrace.” Toulouse has even been closing some streets to vehicular traffic or allowing restaurants to expand their seating into parking spaces to promote outdoor dining (as in the photo above of the Café Concorde).
I had a fantastic first-dinner-out at Huguette, on Place Wilson, the first night they opened back up for dinner. My friend and I opted to share several of their “grignotages” (snacks) instead of getting their (admittedly delicious-looking) dinner menu. And we were so happy with our choices! We split a Croque Gascon, a southwestern take on the classic Croque Monsieur with Gascon Noir pork belly, and their savory waffle that was topped with chickpea mousse (lighter in texture than hummus) and ribbons of fresh veggies. We paired everything with a local rosé from Fronton (Domaine Plaisance Penaveyre) and didn’t neglect dessert, either. The staff was very welcoming, even behind their masks, which made for the perfect evening in Toulouse! I sometimes tend to associate the larger squares with somewhat lower-quality options (because, hey, you’re paying for the real estate), but I’m happy to report that Huguette can hold its own and has a great mix of classic south west France cuisine, but isn’t afraid to innovate with vegetarian options and lighter fare – all with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.