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Jan 29, 2014 02:13 AM

Tarbais beans in Paris

Where can I purchase Tarbais beans in Paris? Thanks.

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  1. Autumn is the season to Tarbais beans. I see them rarely in Paris and just about never out of season.
    When in season, I have bought them in the maraîcher markets like Anvers, Maubert, etc.

    1. there *might* still be a few bags around, but as Parigi says, France revolves around seasonality.

      They'll also be very expensive (they're expensive everywhere).

      1. Detou always have them. If you are in Paris when there is a Salon des Fermiers going on at Place de Champarret, they have them as well and less expensively.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          Exactly. I have never had a problem finding Tarbais. Pampol, yes.* Tarbais, no.

          *Finally decided that Pampol are only used fresh, ergo available in the immediate (August) season, frozen or canned. Locals: please correct me or tell me how I can otherwise source Pampols.

          1. re: mangeur

            If you're talking about dry beans, yes you can find them nearly all the time. I was referring to fresh beans.

            1. re: Parigi

              You are referring now to Tarbais, no?

        2. I should have mentioned it's dry Tarbais beans I'm looking for (to make cassoulet, of course). I've purchased them in Castelnaudary in June so I knew they're available year round. I'm going to Detou anyway so I'll see if I can bear the price.

          18 Replies
            1. re: Parigi

              This is getting interesting. I was under the obviously erroneous impression that Tarbais beans were usually bought and used in the dry state. In fact, I am unaware of their use as a fresh bean. Would you discuss and enlighten me?

              1. re: mangeur

                All local types of beans are locally eaten fresh when in season, except for flageolets which are a more sophisticated product (fresh beans dried in the green state, therefore not eaten fresh).

                1. re: mangeur

                  True, but you want to get the current year's crop if dry. They dry more over time and can be rough to rehydrate.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I was answering Mangeur's question about Tarbais being only used in the dry state, which they are not. All dried beans should be used within one year after their drying.

                    In case the OP wanted Tarbais beans to make cassoulet (I think there is some sort of superstition in the US about Tarbais being the only suitable bean for cassoulet), perhaps I should point out that it is total nonsense. Tarbais beans were always used locally by people around Tarbes. In other parts of cassoulet territory, other beans were used, for instance haricot maïs in the Béarn, cocos de Pamiers in the Gers, etc.

                    On a transregional basis, it is generally assumed that the best beans for cassoulet are either Soissons (similar to butterbeans with thinner skins) or lingots de Vendée (plain white haricot beans). Tarbais when they're not top quality tend to become too soft after lengthy cooking.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      " (I think there is some sort of superstition in the US about Tarbais being the only suitable bean for cassoulet),"

                      That is true. Thank you for clarifying. I went out of my way to find them here in the US and paid dearly. I didn't think they were as good as plain old navy beans. Probably not the best Tarbais but I sure feel better.

                      1. re: jock

                        White navy beans are perfectly OK.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          After I made a cassoulet using dried Tarbais beans, purchased at Detou, he found "Tarbais" beans, grown in CA, online. I didn't taste them but he said they were great.
                          And much, much cheaper.

                          1. re: ScottnZelda

                            What you need for a cassoulet is more a type of bean than a variety of bean. You need a white bean that is well-dried (you can't make cassoulet with fresh beans or beans that have been only recently dried), and keeps its shape after lengthy cooking while still giving an unctuous, soupy texture to the sauce. More creamy than mealy, and above all with very thin skin. That is why dried French coco beans won't do since they have more skin than pulp. That is also why Soissons and lingots de Vendée (dried mojettes) make such great cassoulet since they have these characteristics.

                            Now I've noticed that Tarbais beans behave very differently depending on their origin, age, and other factors. Sometimes you'll get some that are mushy and thick-skinned and sometimes they're just right. I also suspect there is a lot of BS, i.e. people selling Tarbais that are not Tarbais.

                            Also the bean plant mutates easily and its seeds do reflect their terroir, climate and growing conditions, so the Tarbais bean grown in California is no longer quite the Tarbais that is grown in France. Now America is the origin of beans and I wouldn't be surprised if the Californian soil benefited any type of beans that is sown in it.

                      2. re: Ptipois

                        l made a cassoulet some years back in Toulouse with fresh H d Tarbais and it was wonderful. Also made a Daguin recipe with fresh Fava beans and that was still my bomb for cassoulet, just fabulous.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          We have grown cranberry beans for many years, which I dry and also freeze. These, too, make an excellent cassoulet. The beans retain their shape, yet become very creamy after long cooking.

                      3. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Tangentially, last month I discovered a buried treasure, a pound of Gigantes (giant Greek white beans) that I had bought at the predecessor of the Ferry Building Farmers Market and stashed away like a squirrel. These beans, bought in 1992, were 21 years old.

                        I soaked them overnight and simmered them gently for an hour and a half. They were fabulous: tender, intact, creamy, flavorful. Not that I recommend doing this or plan on trying it again...

                        1. re: mangeur

                          Gigantes are identical to Soissons. They are the same variety.

                          They keep forever and taste wonderful. Soissons are my first choice for cassoulet when I can get them in good condition. Gigantes will do just the same but sometimes they are a little thicker-skinned than Soissons: if you can get organic, they'll be fine. They are fantastic for cassoulet.

                          Cassoulet aux fèves (with fava beans) was the original recipe before beans arrived in Europe.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            *sobs at the discussion of tarbais and soissons and confit and cassoulet*

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                "Gigantes are identical to Soissons. They are the same variety."

                                They're my favorite bean. I first had them at a tapas joint, stewed with fresh tomato, basil, olive oil. Comfort food.

                          2. re: mangeur

                            This was my third year making Cassoulet using the kit D'Artagnan assembles. The Tarbais beans they send are wonderful. Just the right mouthfeel. The year before I made cassoulet by hunting down all the parts myself. I won't make that mistake again!

                      4. Who knew the humble bean could engender so much discussion! As the OP, let me clarify my reason for asking.

                        I have been making cassoulet for years, using the recipe of M. Rousselot from Hostellerie Etienne in Castelnaudary. I've used many types of beans from tarbais to lingot to great northern, so I'm not "superstitious" about which bean to use.

                        Having recently been in Paris, I simply wanted to find some tarbais just for the heck of it. Some people buy scarves or perfume or cigars when they travel. Me? I just want some overpriced beans and a few other favorite foodstuffs to put in my suitcase.

                        On another note, the beans I purchased have a 2015 expiration date, which seems entirely reasonable to me for a dried bean.