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Local source for tarbais beans?

carswell Jan 14, 2009 02:37 PM

Some friends and I are planning to make a classic cassoulet and we're ready to fork over the big bucks for 2 lbs of French tarbais beans. The problem is finding them. Gourmet Laurier used to stock surperb tarbais -- artisanal, organic, harvest-dated, packed in net bags -- but had only boxed cocos and lingots when I checked last week. Any recent local sightings or suggestions of where to look? Thanks!

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  1. rillettes Jan 15, 2009 06:30 AM

    Atwater market, the little butcher that sells mostly duck and duck accessories. :)
    Between the sausage mongers and the organic butchers. Sorry, can't remember the name of the place.
    I got mine there when I last made cassoulet.

    1. carswell Mar 5, 2009 01:16 PM

      Checked all the butchers and other stores in Atwater Market this afternoon and found nary a tarbais.

      If anyone has another idea, we'd much appreciate hearing it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: carswell
        snap32 Mar 5, 2009 03:48 PM

        If you are willing to travel to the South Shore, sometimes the stores at Marche Village (on Taschereau, in Brossard) have them. I've seen them at Marche Vittoria (the fruit store at Marche Village): they are usually near the squash. Or else at the "en vrac" store. Not quite sure about the quality though.

        1. re: snap32
          snap32 Mar 6, 2009 10:05 AM

          Ok, scrap what I just said. I checked today and they didn't have any tarbais beans left. Who knew they were so popular?

      2. carswell Mar 14, 2009 10:00 AM

        After much searching we found Label Rouge manually harvested *haricots tarbais* from Tarbes at Boucherie du Marché, the shop just east of Chez Louis at Jean Talon Market. Imported by Sélection Philippe Mollé for Alicom. A 500-g bag costs $14.99. Ouch.

        1. carswell Feb 4, 2010 09:43 AM

          We're once again on a quest to find tarbais beans.

          Atwater and Jean Talon markets appear to be tarbais-free zones. Les douceurs du marché, which assured us it could order some, now says they're not even listed in their wholesale catalogues. Gourmet Laurier is tarbaisless. The phone number for Alicom, the local distributor of the beans we bought last year, is out of service. Marché Transatlantique says they may have some eventually but won't be able to confirm for at least another month.

          If anyone knows of a local source or even an online source that ships to Canada, we'd much appreciate your sharing the info. Thanks!

          2 Replies
          1. re: carswell
            FoodNovice Feb 5, 2010 08:14 AM

            Boucherie Atlantique comes to mind as a possible source...

            1. re: FoodNovice
              carswell Feb 5, 2010 09:19 AM

              Don't recall ever seeing them there but will ask. Thanks.

          2. m
            Maximilien Feb 5, 2010 08:20 AM

            I'm still surprised that "La Dépense" @ JTM does not have some from time to time; probably not exotic enough! :-)

            5 Replies
            1. re: Maximilien
              carswell Feb 5, 2010 09:21 AM

              Me, too. La Dépense was the first place I checked after Gourmet Laurier. The clerks had no idea what I was talking about. Probably not exotic enough is probably right.

              1. re: carswell
                kpzoo Feb 5, 2010 09:26 AM

                Have you tried calling Maître Boucher on Monkland? They have a lot of French imports - maybe a long shot but might be worth a try.

                1. re: kpzoo
                  carswell Mar 26, 2010 02:48 PM

                  Called Maître Boucher and visited Boucherie Atlantique. No luck at either place. But I finally found a source: Marché Transatlantique, which I'll start a separate thread for soon. The beans are Label Rouge brand. The bags bear an "indication géographique protégée" seal and a best-before date of January 1, 2012. Available only in 1-kg bags at $38 a shot (aïe-aïe!).

                  1. re: carswell
                    TheSnowpea Mar 27, 2010 10:58 AM

                    At that price, it's not really a wonder that they are rare in Montreal. Maybe the crops aren't keeping up either!

                    1. re: TheSnowpea
                      carswell Mar 28, 2010 08:07 AM

                      The price is dissuasive, that's for sure. Reportedly there's still a market for them, especially among restaurateurs. Their rarity this year seems mainly to be related to the sale of the former distributor (Alicom).

            2. NickMontreal Mar 29, 2010 08:22 AM

              Sorry I’m curious, exactly what is a tarbais bean? It sounds oh-so-recherché and I'm very interested as to why you would go to such lengths to find it. Is it a type traditionally used for cassoulet perhaps? Or just superior in texture or flavour?

              (I normally use navy or canellini)

              2 Replies
              1. re: NickMontreal
                carswell Mar 29, 2010 09:23 AM

                They're white beans grown in the commune of Tarbes in the Hautes-Pyrénées department. They're big and look something like a cross between white kidney beans and lima beans. Production can't be mechanized, meaning, among other things, that they're allowed to dry in their pods on the plants and then harvested by hand.

                In the kitchen, they cook evenly, never burst and tolerate overcooking better than most. At table, they're prized for their thin, tender skins, light yet creamy texture and fine flavour. Many consider them to be the gold standard for cassoulet, and I don't think anyone who attended last year's cassoulet bash -- which featured Paula Wolfert's cassoulet de Toulouse made with tarbais beans -- would disagree.

                1. re: carswell
                  moh Mar 29, 2010 06:50 PM

                  It is hard to swallow the price of $40 per kilo, but I would say that these beans really made the cassoulet very special. They do have a lovely creamy texture that is quite unique, with none of the starchiness that I usually associate with bean dishes. Wouldn't do it every night, but once in a while, worth the splurge.

              2. i
                isa1 Mar 29, 2010 01:32 PM

                saw some today at Marche Transatlantique on Waverly. about 40$ for a kilo if I remember correctly

                1 Reply
                1. re: isa1
                  carswell Mar 29, 2010 05:19 PM

                  Ha! Thanks for the follow-up, isa1. As it turns out, we beat you there by a couple of days:

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