Wall of wine bottles at Bacaro wine bar in Toulouse

September 2020: Foodie Things to do in Toulouse

La rentrée is here, and with it, a whole lot of fun, delicious things to do in Toulouse in September! Some of the larger events are returning this month, including my favorite – Toulouse à Table. Most of these events have been very good at communicating what hygiene and safety measures will be in place. Hopefully these plans will be followed respectfully and people will be able to enjoy the resumption of a measure of “normal” (albeit masked and distanced) activities. The ban on events with more than 5,000 people is still in effect, and has been reinforced as infection rates are, unfortunately, still on the rise.

Toulouse has been joined by many other areas in France in making masks mandatory outdoors – so keep yours handy at all times and be sure you wear it covering your mouth AND nose!

In addition to a resurgence of food events (listed below), I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that European Heritage Days are September 19-20. This incredible weekend that features events and tours at historical sites all over Europe (you can search this map to see what is nearest you), includes – among many other events in Toulouse – a “Nuit du Patrimoine, entre cours et jardins” in the Saint Etienne neighborhood. Don’t miss this once-a-year event!

As always, don’t forget to continue to support the small local businesses that make our communities unique, as many are still in precarious positions. R.I.P. to Barallel, which closed at the end of July. They were one of my favorite bars in Toulouse that had both an awesome wine list and a great selection of house-brewed beers. They will be missed.

As always, stay safe, stay healthy, and eat well. ❤️️

Jessica - Taste of Toulouse

Foodie Things to do in Toulouse – September 2020

September & October – Online Cheese Workshops

The September and October schedule for our online cheese workshops is LIVE! Just click on the link to see the dates. Learn to successfully navigate the cheese shop with French Cheese 101 or create beautiful cheese plates during the hands-on How to Build a Cheese Plate workshop.

2-5 September – Village Gourmand Toulouse à Table

Regional products, artisans, tastings, wine, activities, and more. This free event outside the Capitole metro station in the Place Charles de Gaulle is definitely worth a visit! Facebook event page 
The schedule of “nocturnes” (evening events where you’ll want to reserve your ticket in advance) for the Village Gourmand is as follows:

4-6 September – Salon Vivre Nature

This salon for all things natural and bio (organic) also includes several organic and biodynamic winemakers, as well as other organic specialty foods. This salon was originally scheduled for March, then rescheduled for September (with all of the proper safety measures being taken). Takes place at the new MEET convention center in Aussonne. You can print off a free entry form from the event website.

5 September – Banquet – Cassoulet Géant in the Place du Capitole (Toulouse à Table)

This is truly one of the most memorable events that I have attended in Toulouse! A delicious cassoulet meal filled with regional products served against the gorgeous backdrop of the Place du Capitole, with the festive atmosphere of over 2,500 people coming together (but with social distancing this year!) to enjoy a moment with local food and warm hospitality. Adult tickets are only 20 € (25 € for VIP), which is less than what you’d pay for the same meal in a restaurant – plus there are also children’s, vegetarian and gluten-free menus. Tickets do sell out before the day, so be sure to buy in advance! Buy tickets

5 September – Hopscotch Birthday Bash

The Hopscotch Pub & Brewery is turning 3 and you’re invited to a celebratory evening which will include exclusive home-brewed and guest beers, exclusive whiskies, Scottish dogs, deep-fried Mars bars (I’d go for these alone!), prizes, Scottish and Celtic music, and more! Facebook event page

6 September – Vide Cuisine et Arts de la Table (Toulouse à Table)

If you love to cook or entertain, you’ll want to attend this special communal garage sale dedicated to kitchenware, table ware, dishes, utensils, and more. There are deals to be had! Facebook event page

8 September – Online book launch for Samantha Vérant’s “The Secret Recipes of Sophie Valroux”

Coming to you live from Facebook, local author and American expat Samantha Vérant, will be celebrating the launch of her debut womens’ fiction/contemporary romance novel, The Secret Recipes of Sophie Valroux, which is set in southwest France. I greatly enjoyed Vérant’s previous memoirs, 7 Letters from Paris and How to Build a French Family, which chronicle the incredible story behind her move to Toulouse and the establishment of her life here, so I look forward to reading this new book, which features a French chef who returns to her roots in southwest France. With travel postponed due to COVID-19, the book launch will be totally online and feature cook-alongs, readings, giveaways, and live conversations with the author. Facebook event page

10 September – Soirée Food Trucks (Toulouse à Table)

This food truck night at the Port Viguerie will feature approximately 12 food trucks, plus beer and wine, music, and more. I always advise to go early to avoid the crowds – now more than ever – but distancing and other safety measures will also be in place. Facebook event page

11 September – Re-opening of the Nabuchodonosor Wine Bar

A new (old) natural wine bar in Toulouse is something to celebrate. The Nabu’, is it is commonly called, originally opened in 1981 (though its zinc countertop has seen over 100 years), but closed in 2019. At the time, it claimed to be the first wine bar in Toulouse. Now it is being reopened by two friends who will be upholding the focus on natural wines and small producers. Read more about the Nabuchodonosor. Facebook event page

12 September – Diner Champêtre des Qualivores

The Qualivores are a group dedicated to promoting the products of our region that have protected designations like AOP/IGP. This dinner at the Flon Flon in Balma promises a night in a beautiful country setting filled with many of these great products for a very reasonable price. 5-course menu, plus drinks, for only 32€. Kids’ menu for 15 €. Buy tickets online.

13 September-3 October – Become a winemaker for a day in Fronton!

Spend a day in the vines in Fronton – just outside Toulouse – helping with the wine harvest, visiting the cellars, tasting wine, and eating the traditional post-harvest meal with the winemakers of the domaine. Saturdays or Sundays in September and early October. See the website for the complete schedule.

19 September – Marché des Créateurs et Producteurs d’Occitanie

This small market, held near Saint Aubin, focused on local creators and local food will feature demonstrations, tastings, music, food trucks, and more. Entry is free. Facebook event page

22-27 September – Toulouse Cocktail Tour #3

Spend a week exploring the cocktail scene of Toulouse! Download your free pass on the event website and benefit from special pricing on over 50 exclusive cocktails created by bartenders at 7 of Toulouse’s best cocktail spots. Event website

What I’m Writing, Reading, and Listening to

Taste of Toulouse is a Travelers’ Choice winner! (Taste of Toulouse blog)
TripAdvisor just released with 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards and Taste of Toulouse was honored to be among the recipients! That puts us in the TOP 10% of attractions, accommodations, and restaurants worldwide. It feels good to celebrate such an achievement, especially amidst such a trying year.

I’m interviewed on the Way of Living Podcast
I talk with Morgane, a French expat living in the UK, about my journey from a blueberry farm in SW Michigan to Toulouse and what it was like to start a business here as an expat. We also discuss what influenced me to start Taste of Toulouse, how I handle being an introvert (yes, really!) in a very extroverted profession, and what my definition of success is (which may surprise you).

How COVID-19 is undermining one of the most exciting projects in Toulouse (ActuToulouse – in French)
The Halles de la Cartoucherie project, which will encompass an enormous, highly-anticipated gourmet food hall, as well as a offices, co-working, performance space, cinema, dance studio, climbing gym, and more, was set to begin construction just as COVID-19 hit. Now the opening has been pushed back for a year, to 2022, and some of the banks they had been working with pulled funding. They are hoping that the city, the département, or the region will step in to help so that they are not forced to scale back plans for this ambitious project.

How climate change is souring French winemakers 2020 harvest (The Local France)
2020, can you be over yet? As if it weren’t bad enough that many French winemakers had to resort to selling their wine surplus caused by the COVID-19 shutdown to make hand sanitizer, now climate change is threatening the harvest. The government says that, on average, wine harvests are taking place 18 days earlier than they did 40 years ago.

Toulouse – A “route gourmande” for cassoulet in Occitanie (La Depeche – in French)
Looking for a good cassoulet? Put these places on your list! The association Tables & Auberges de France has launched a gourmet cassoulet route through Occitanie. The restaurants in Toulouse that made the list include: Restaurant Emile, La Table du Belvédère, Le Colombier, Les Copains d’abord, Brasserie de l’Opéra, Le J’Go, Restaurant Huguette, and La Cendrée.

‘Culinary terrorism’ – Why French TV viewers are furious about Salade Niçoise recipe (The Local France)
You mess with a classic and they’ll come after you! The divisive debate about changes to this classic recipe was ignited after a French chef posted a recipe with ingredients that are not traditional to the salad. I admit that I’ve had some people come after me on social media for the mention of a vegetarian cassoulet (not traditional, but what are you going to do if you live with a vegetarian?). Do you think recipes should be kept in their classic form or do you like to make changes and adapt?

What does it mean to make wine right now? (Punch)
“The fruit’s transformation to wine is obsessed over as a nod to transparency. But the same care is not applied to the humans whose hands grace those grapes; there is neither transparency nor obsession about their pay, their working conditions or their dignity.” What do we talk about when we talk about wine? What gets left out of the story? This article introduces a new series at Punch “exploring how and where humanity intersects with the story of modern wine.”

Everyone’s a Foodie Now (Shondaland)
New York magazine food critic Gael Greene first used the word in 1980, and since then, the term has been a spicy one. Some think it’s outdated, others say it’s cheesy, and, at least in my household, we would never be so uncool and use it to describe ourselves — even though we’ve made our own sourdough bread, are particular about oat milks, and have been holding onto an outdoor reservation at a James Beard-nominated restaurant for weeks.” An exploration of what it means to be a foodie in 2020.

What I’m Eating

The vibrant pink salt flats of Gruissan
The beautiful salt ponds at Les Salins de Gruissan

In August, we spent a week near the Mediterranean town of Sète, so there was lots of seafood involved, as well as beach time. However, the highlight of our trip was visiting the stunning salt flats of Gruissan, where they produce a beautiful sea salt. The salt pools are a vivid pink, caused by algae (the same algae that are eaten by shrimp, which are eaten by flamingos, which given them their pink color). The salt turns white through oxidation, so you won’t see any pink salt flakes on your food, unfortunately. But a visit is highly recommended, and if you take the tour, you’ll even get to harvest some of the salt yourself! I also may have bought a 5-kilo bucket of gross sel (the large crystals) as well as some flaky fleur de sel (which is harvested at 5 am, so we didn’t get to watch that part) which will be featured in my cooking for quite some time to come.

Harvesting sea salt during a tour of Les Salins de Gruissan.
Harvesting our own sea salt at Les Salins de Gruissan

While I had some delicious food while I was on vacation, there’s really no place like home. Since I’ve been back, I’ve had several outstanding meals out with friends at new-to-me places around Toulouse. The first was a meal at Bacaro, a cosy-cool little wine bar near the Pont Guilhemery. They propose a mix of small plates and main dishes that you can mix and match for yourself or to share, along with a really interesting wine list (just ask what is available by the glass for that day).

Dinner at Bacaro wine bar in Toulouse.
Dinner at Bacaro

All of the food we had at Bacaro was very good and – while not inexpensive – very well-priced. However, the stand-out dish that I am still dreaming about was a burrata with spicy, soft Sobrassada sausage. The combination of creamy and spicy (very spicy by French standards, medium spicy on my scale) hit my taste buds with a zing! I don’t usually order foie gras in restaurants (it’s everywhere and I eat enough of it giving tours), but I couldn’t resist the foie gras with rosemary apricot jam. I was well-rewarded for my choice. Many thanks to Annabel for suggesting we try it out, as it’s in an area that is a bit outside my normal sphere of exploration.

The second notable meal out was a bit serendipitous as another friend and I were planning on meeting for drinks at a wine bar that turned out to still be closed for vacation (story of my life in Toulouse in August…). While scrounging around for what was open nearby, I remembered that I had just had a conversation with someone else about a restaurant hidden in the courtyard of the Maison de l’Occitanie, which houses numerous non-profit associations that promote the Occitan language and culture. So that led us to A Taula, which – I’ve been told – means “à table” (to the table!) or “I’m hungry” in Occitan.

Dinner in the courtyard restaurant A Taula in Toulouse.
Courtyard dining at A Taula

We had originally meant only to go for a glass of wine or two, but we were enticed by the calm, cool courtyard and the friendly staff to stay for dinner, which is primarily Spanish-style tapas (for lunch they do a menu of the day). Everything was freshly-made, the quality of the ingredients was very high, and prices were very reasonable. My favorites were the patatas bravas and the croquetas with Pata Negra ham. It was some of the best tapas I have had in Toulouse and I can’t wait to go back and try more of it!

Want to continue exploring Toulouse’s food culture? Read our Guide to Slow Travel in Toulouse next. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

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