Tarn and Tarn et Garonne mini-report: L'Epicurien, La Falaise, L'Ancienne Auberge
Given the excellent dinners served at our b&b (Domaine La Borie Grande near Cordes), we had dinner out only once (at La Falaise). Thus the somewhat short list here:
L'Epicurien (Albi): Lunch. Unlike almost any restaurant I've been to in the South, this one feels like it's lifted straight out of Paris, both in terms of the nice streamlined decor and the professional service. The food is excellent. We both took the menu of the day, which included a good salad with small shrimps and lettuce, and a better sliced sirloin over mashed potatoes with mushrooms. The dessert was a cold soupe of fruits rouges. Good wine list including local Gaillac wines. Only drawback of this place is it is a bit of a walk (through what is currently a square undergoing construction) from the main sites of the town, namely the cathedral and the toulouse-lautrec museum. Wonderful town to visit.
La Falaise (Cahuzac sur Vere): Dinner. we had the tasting menu which started very strong but then declined somewhat toward the end. Excellent foie gras starter with apple slices and a small dollop of apple sauce, as well as some other elements I am now forgetting. Excellent small langoustine. The fish (I think it was loup de mer but can't recall) was slightly overdone. The wild duck was good but a bit gamey for my taste, though this is perhaps what should be expected in this type of duck. Desserts were ok. Probably worth another try.
L'Ancienne Auberge (Puycelci): Lunch. Very homey room, but with tables (of beautiful copper finish) oddly packed together when there is plenty of open space. The prix fixe was an excellent deal and the main (fish with a romesco sauce) was good enough. They have a fancier restaurant which apparently is open only for dinner a few nights a week. That menu looked quite good.
My trip report is even shorter on restaurants so I'll add it here. This despite us covering the area from Quercy to Toulouse to the Ger and including west to Cahors and Moissac and east to Conques. So, the Tarn and a bit of the Aveyron.
The reason the trip report is so short is that this region seems to be about eating food where you find it, which is everywhere.
We stayed at the Domain de Bel Air in the Quercy and we ate dinner there every night. Its an old farmhouse run by a French man named Sebastien. He loves the area and he loves food so every dinner was preceded by and pleasantly interrupted by him giving us a small discourse on what we were eating and drinking. All local stuff. (All the guests were French, us two being the only outsiders -though we both speak French). A Foie gras mi cuit starter and then a few more courses of produce and game. This is where I first fell in love with Croustilot bread. That is some amazing bread. And each dinner finished with an enormous cheese plate. The obligatory Rocamadour and Cabecou were there along with other cheeses from the region, local honey, etc. With dinners like these, there was no reason to go to restaurants.
We did enjoy our lunch at Auberge St. Jacques in Conques. What a beautiful town. Their aligot was a standout here.
We did picnics wherever we went. Picking up some horse meat, for example, at the Moissac Saturday market, and bread and cheese and wine and melon. Not a huge fan of the Quercy melon, I must say, even though it was everywhere.
Vilage feast signs were everywhere but we never actually (regrettably) made it to one. We were sorry we couldn't stay for a large outdoor roast in Martel but we had just had a huge dinner. Next time.
Our stay in Gers continued the tradition of buying and eating. We had a gite there and would go out driving, buying food and cooking it at home. So we had multi-course feasts, almost always with mi cuit as a starter and either a Bordeaux or Cahors wine.
We did make it to the Samatan foie gras market on Monday. It wasn't enormous it being July. But we did enjoy buying raw foie gras (ridiculously cheap) and taking it back home and trying to prepare and cook it at home. The neighboring livestock market is something to see too. Full of kids selling their chickens or goats, people carrying boxes of live geese.
We had a wonderful vacation, full of incredible food and incredible sights (Churches, Art, Pech Merle, countryside, gorges...) We'll be back and perhaps next time we'll try some restaurants too!