Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rainy Day Cassoulet in Carcassonne

Wearing warm sweaters, jackets and resolute expressions, we headed for Carcassonne. Normally it's under an hour's drive but today we swerved and braked hard when we came on a vast vide grenier in Montréal. Too chilly to do this one serious justice but we did come away with an impressive pair of fire irons for five euros. 

By the time we had parked the car, crossed the moat, and were in the cité (the famous walled part of Carcassonne), it was lunch time. Too cold to eat under the plane trees unfortunately but just right for a three-course Sunday lunch at La Maison de Blanquette. 

This is an off-shoot of the original "Maison" in Limoux and, as there, it's a strong supporter of the Sieur d'Arques winery. You get a glass of blanquette while you mull over what you're going to eat and a half-bottle of wine per person included in an already reasonable 14 euro tab. Two went for goat's cheese salad, two for toast spread with a garlic-and-anchovy purée. Three cassoulets, two steak frites. Iles flottantes and clafoutis to finish before we rumbled off, warm and fed to roam around the city.

God, it must have been bleak work patrolling those walls except for the rare moments of fun when you threw boiling oil on invaders down the purpose-designed chutes. No guard-rails anywhere so I suspect falling to one's death was only one of the job hazards. That and avoiding the humungous boulders hurled by giant catapults located outside the city walls. 

The carbo-laden lunch meant we only needed a light frittata for supper.

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