Skip to main content

RESTAURANT LE TIROU, CASTELNAUDARY - A REVIEW

Three different towns in the south of France each produce slightly different versions of cassoulet, that hearty, beany casserole named after the cassole, the earthenware bowl in which it is traditionally cooked and served. Having visited Carcassonne and Toulouse prior to our permanent move to the region, only Castelnaudary, which lays claim to actually having invented the dish, remained.

Le Tirou chef/owner Jean-Claude Visentin is a Maître Restaurateur, a prized title not taken lightly.  It's a curious place with odd, slightly chintzy furnishings that embellish otherwise standard restaurant table settings. And you can't miss the petting zoo in the back yard on display to the entire dining room. (Roosters and an alpaca (llama, maybe) and a statue of a cow and more...) But, like 90% of the restaurants in Castelnaudary, whatever else that it's about, it's about the cassoulet.

Brought to the table with some ceremony in the appropriate cassoles, properly crusted, the maitre d' spooned out a piece of homemade sausage, a piece of confit de porc, a piece of confit de canard, and a serving of beans onto the plates of each of the ladies. Not a fan of such beanful fare, I opted for cuisse de canard confite - leg and thigh of duck confit. The cassoulet was a real treat for the ladies, each component with a distinctive flavor, the portion slightly more than they could finish. My duck was done as I like it and as so few restaurants serve it, with the skin crispy instead of limp.

We found the service polite and attentive without being intrusive and Visentin visited each table as lunch concluded, even displaying a smattering of English in our honor. This was the real deal even if the setting had the flavor of a touristy joint. They care about the cassoulet and it showed. Not the least expensive in town - the three mains with a demi of wine, two desserts and two coffees just topped 100 Euros. But well worth it. Thumbs up.

Read more of my reviews HERE.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

CHRISTMAS WALK TO VIEW OF THE PYRENEES: 2018

Cathey said that it was OK for me to take my usual Tuesday morning walk on Christmas Day. I could help set the table and perform other minor tasks necessary for a satisfactory Christmas dinner with friends after I returned. So off I went. Temperature 40℉ at the start near sunup. 50℉ at the finish a couple of hours later. No wind. Blue skies. This was the winter that I came to France for.

The walk can't really be called scenic. Just through the vines until you get to the headland opposite the village. But the closer that you get to the top, you begin to see the Pyrenees peeking through. And at the top, it's a 360° panorama.







FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…