March 2020: Foodie things to do in Toulouse, food news, and more
March is going to be a fun month for things to do in Toulouse, with lots of spring wine fairs showcasing the new vintage just bottled, plus the start-up of night markets for the spring season (starting with les Carmes in March).
And, though you won’t find it on my foodie list below, the big Toulouse Carnival parade will be Sunday, March 29! Why chance bad weather and competition with other carnival parades in February when you can just move it to the end of March? (UPDATE: Carnival has been cancelled due to prohibitions against large gatherings.) However you celebrate the coming of spring, I hope it’s delicious!
Foodie things to do in Toulouse in March 2020
5 March – Nocturne Le VaCarmes #4
The Marché des Carmes is back with the next installation of their night market series (cleverly named – “vacarme” means a big racket/noise). As always, go on the early side to beat the crowds, grab a few prepared plates of cheese and charcuterie, a bottle of wine, and watch the hubbub! Learn more.
5 March – Pop-up restaurant #8/Cassoulet 100% Locavore
In 2020, Halles de la Cartoucherie is setting up a series of pop-up restaurants at Lune Bleue in order to continue to develop and select future stands for their gourmet food hall project. For #8, they propose a cassoulet that is made with ingredients that come from less than 10 km away from the Hameau de Marie Antoinette, where it’s made (they also have a small shop right next to the Marché Victor Hugo). I can vouch for the deliciousness of this cassoulet – and there is even a VEGAN option! 2 courses is only 15 €, so it’s a great deal! Learn more. (and follow Halles de la Cartoucherie on Facebook for upcoming events that haven’t yet been announced)
6-8 March – Salon des Vins du Club des Vignerons Lauréats
The Engineering School in Purpan is playing host to a wine fair with over 40 producers from all over France, as well as other fine food sellers. Entrance is free with invitation (there is an email address on the Facebook event page to request it) and you can purchase a tasting glass for 3 € or bring your own glass! Learn more.
7-8 March – La Foire du sud-est Toulousain
This salon, held in Labège, will have over 60 vendors selling their artisanal food products, household products, and more. Entry is free and there are lots of free activities for kids, like a carousel and a flight simulator. Learn more.
13-15 March – Salon Vins & Terroirs CANCELLED
UPDATE: This event, which was rescheduled for June 5-7, has now been cancelled (more details at the link below). If you like wine and good food, this twice-yearly expo at the Parc des Expositions is not to be missed! Features over 150 winemakers and specialty food producers all in one space. Entrance is 5.50 € (4.50 € if purchased online before March 12), but I’ve managed to score free tickets in the past by visiting Credit Agricole (and if you’ve bought wine there in the past, many producers mail free passes to you). Learn more.
20 March – Soirées bistronomiques au Domaine Gayrard
The chef Arnaud RONXIN of L’A Terrasse in Laguépie (82) is cooking up a delicious, locally-inspired meal once per month at Domaine Gayrard, an organic and biodynamic (in conversion) winemaker in the Gaillac AOC. Learn more.
21 March – Salon des Vins Bio et Naturels 100% Vigneronnes CANCELLED
This small event for organic and natural wines features ALL FEMALE WINEMAKERS and is hosted in Lavaur, a charming town about 45K from Toulouse. Entry is free and 1 € from every bottle sold benefits the non-profit “Une autre Femme” that fights for women’s rights and against violence towards women. Learn more.
29-31 March – Salon Vivre Nature
UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for September 4-6, 2020. This salon for all things natural and bio also includes several organic and biodynamic winemakers, as well as other organic specialty foods. You can print off a free entry form from the event website. Watch their Facebook page for updates.
Thru 6 September 2020 – Code Alimentation exhibit at Quai des Savoirs
Explore the food of the future at this interactive exhibit-game at the Quai des Savoirs museum! “From the start of the visit, you will step into the shoes of a secret agent employed by “The Agency”, a group of scientists, and you will be invested with a very special mission: to go to the future, in order to carry out a food survey in the city of Trapellun. To pass incognito, the secret agent will take on the identity of an avatar. Your goal? Find and bring back to the present specimens of the future, technologies, species or new uses that you deem useful for the food of tomorrow. To do this, you will meet challenges through many games and manipulations. Good luck, the future counts on you!” Learn more. (p.s. Don’t forget that the 1st Sunday of each month is a FREE MUSEUM DAY in Toulouse!)
What I’m reading:
France is losing the battle to save the baguette, warns leading bread historian (The Telegraph)
Even with the introduction of the “baguette de tradition” 26 years ago and an artisanal renaissance among a small group of bakers, the vast majority of the bread in France is industrially-produced and low quality. I don’t know about you, but I’m doing my part to support bakers who are doing things right by using high-quality ingredients and artisanal methods!
This Woman Made an Impressive Cheese Board 30,000 Feet in the Air (People)
File this under “A good alternative to airplane or airport food.”
20 of the world’s best new restaurants for 2020 (CNN Traveler)
This list includes the new restaurant by Yannick Delpech, Des Roses et des Orties, in Colomiers. Toulouse’s restaurants are getting international attention!
Everything You Don’t Know About Chocolate (New York Times)
This is an excellent primer on chocolate – from how it’s made, what “single origin” and “bean-to-bar” means, to ethical and environmental concerns and more. If you like eating chocolate, you’ll want to read this!
Raw milk cheese and the pressure to pasteurise (Financial Times)
A fascinating look at the complexities of making raw milk cheese around the world – including France.
Pasteurised camembert? French cheesemakers vote ‘Non’ (rfi.fr)
And in other exciting raw milk cheese news, the “war of the camembert” comes to a stunning conclusion (at least for now). Producers in the Normandy region narrowly voted against a proposed plan to enlarge the Camembert de Normandie AOP by allowing it to be made with pasteurized milk.
What I’m eating:
I enjoyed a beautiful lunch on the back terrace of Le Biergarten during the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. They may be known for their beers and bratwurst, but at lunch they have a great brasserie-style menu that’s only 17 € for 3 courses (and don’t skip the patio if the weather’s nice!). Spending a leisurely lunch on a sunny patio is one of my favorite things to do in Toulouse.
The theme this month must be “eating outside (or close to it)” because I also had lunch at La Verrière, in Carmes. This new-ish restaurant, in the space formerly occupied by Le Glastag, features a gorgeous glass roof and plenty of greenery so you can catch your rays, even when it’s cold out. The chef, Hervé Bourg just won the prestigious Vanel d’Or prize in January, so I though it was a good opportunity to check it out. The service was very warm and I appreciated the wine they recommended. The chef’s daughter, Camille, is the sommelier and it was she who waited on us, volunteering to speak English when she heard our conversation. The food, in my opinion, was ok. It’s obvious that the ingredients were of good quality, but not as well-seasoned as I would like (I had to add a LOT of salt to my pot-au-feu, though my dining partner loved her trout filet). However, for the atmosphere and the service I’ll be giving this restaurant a second chance!
And, of couse, I’m always eating lots of delicious things during the Victor Hugo market tour and the Chocolate & Pastry tour. If you’ll be in Toulouse this month, why don’t you join me for a tour? It’ll be one of your favorite things to do here – I guarantee it!