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.