My friend Sarah came to visit me in Toulouse over the past couple of days and the following will reflect the time we spent together – it will mostly be pastry discussion. There will also be information about the city because that is the point.
I met Sarah at the bus stop and brought with me a six pack of pain aux raisin from Carrefour. This sham of a pastry does not merit any in depth-description however I will say that for amateurs and connoisseurs alike an individually wrapped, swirl shaped brioche with custard filling and a few raisins does not constitute good pâtisserie.
That evening we went to La Faim des Haricots which is a vegetarian at 3 Rue de Puits Vert just off Capitole. For €15.50 you get an aperitif, a coffee or tea at the end as much as you can eat from all of the five buffets: salad, plat du jour, savoury tarts, soup and dessert. I had a pastis to start with then stuffed my face. Highlights included the restaurants tarts. I felt exhausted on leaving the restaurant having expended myself with the tarts.
The next day we hired two bikes from the Velo Toulouse service which is similar to the system that is being introduced in many major cities. You go to one of the many bike stations around, you pay a bit, you ride a bike around then you put it back. It costs €1 for a day pass then a sliding scale depending on how much you use the bike across the day, although its free for the first 30 minutes. Here’s what its like
We dropped the bikes off at Place St. Pierre and walked down to Les Carmes. Waked past this life size chocolate replica of Toulousain singer Claude Nougaro.
We stopped at a now forgotten pâtisserie then perched on a bench outside the Musée des Augustins and got down to business. First up was the Sablé.
This was essentially a huge biscuit. Crunchy and biscuit-y and also quite dry, it would have benefited from a coffee at the side. 6.3/10.
This macaron was everything a macaron should be; crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle, like a chocolate burger. The filling really offset the almonds in the “bun” although it was blatantly scooped straight out of a nutella jar. I do go mad for that classic chocolate/hazelnut combination though it felt perhaps too familiar. 7.9/10
This pastry is surely proof of the existence of the christian god. When I look at this Jesuite, named after the now unfashionable jesuit’s hat that its shape imitates, I can no longer ignore the knock at the door that has been following me my whole life (the door being my faith and the knock coming from god himself). When I look at something so complicated and perfect as this pastry with its sugar dusting, almond flakes and frangipane filling, I can no longer believe that something so perfect just happened by chance. It cost €1.50. 8.5/10.
The next day we went to my local patisserie. This is probably the best patisserie in Toulouse (that I have been to, and I have been to many patisseries). We bought a slice of rhubarb tart and a chocolate thing. A three chocolate thing. We took some pictures of them as we walked across the Garonne. Here is the proof
We sat in the park next to the contemporary art gallery Les Abattoirs and ate these.
The chocolate ébène was composed of a layer of white chocolate mousse on top of a layer of milk chocolate mousse on top of a layer of dark chocolate mousse, covered in chocolate syrup and almonds. Rich notes from the dark chocolate leading up to the light creamy taste of the white with a warm almond finish. The fondant texture made the act of eating it with no cutlery into a debasement. I got chocolate up near my eyebrow somehow. 8.5/10
After that was my personal favourite of the 2 days, the rhubarb tart. The cranberries turned what would have been a very nice piece of tart into something else. Sharpness and sweetness at the same time, the pastry was light enough for the tart to have an almost palate cleansing effect. 9.5/10
Afterwards we went to the Chateau d’Eau which is the oldest photography dedicated gallery in France to see the exhibitions by Laura Henno and Dorothée Smith. The exhibitions seemed to be mostly pictures of trendy guys doing trendy things like looking moody and smoking fags. The Laura Henno one was quite good though, actually. We took some pictures cos we’re trendy guys too.
The coolest thing about this gallery was the space. It was originally a mechanical water tower built in 1822 that fed the fountains of the city. It was turned into the first municipal photo gallery in France in 1974. Look:
Our last stop on the pastry tour of Toulouse was a boulangerie in les carmes. We bought this
On the left is an abricotine and on the right is a chausson italien. The abricotine was again refreshing, I appreciated the sweet fruit element which lightened the brioche. The chausson is a twise on a pain aux raisin, almost literally. The pastry is wrapped round the filling of raisins and I’m sure some kind of booze. It was great. 8/10 for both.
Then we sat at the river and drank nice beer. Bet its not sunny where you are. I’m getting a tan right now. Later squares.