After London, we flew to Toulouse for just under two weeks in France. It was more time in the company of extraordinarily generous friends combined with healthy dose of indulgence in good food and wine.
We spent about 5 nights at our friend’s apartment in the heart of Toulouse’s old town. Toulouse is known as the Ville Rose (The Pink City) for its red brick buildings that give the city a pink hue. Its two main industries are the local University and the Airbus A380 which employs 30,000 of the city’s 1.1 million residents. It was school holidays while we were there so things were pretty quiet and we spent most of our time wandering around eating and drinking which isn’t such a bad thing when you’re in France.
We spent a lot of time in markets pointing to yummy cheeses that we wanted to buy and fumbling our way through the French language. I became quite proficient with the phrase Je ne parle pas Français – so much so that I thought I might be starting to sound like a local that was just being rude (a rude Frenchman, imagine!). Perhaps the best example of my language deficiencies was illustrated by the time I tried to order the fish of the day and received a dozen oysters.
A few days later we caught the train to Auch, where we were met by the same friends who took us to Condom (nothing funny about that name if you ask the French) where they had just bough a beautiful old farm house about 5 mins drive from town. Once there, we finally got a bit of the sunshine we had so desperately been seeking since landing in a snow covered Frankfurt a bit over a month ago.
Our time in Condom was fairly lazy. A few excursions out into the French country side, but nothing too strenuous. A couple of years ago my brother worked a vintage at Château de Malle, just outside Bordeaux. He was good enough to tee up a tour of the winery and the Château itself with their head wine maker who is a good friend of his. We had a fabulous day being shown around both, trying a wide range of vintages, primarily Sauternes which would have to be one of my favourite wine appellations.
And speaking of wine appellations, Sommelier.net.au got a real work out while I was there. Here’s a quick rundown of the various appellations I got to drink while in France:
- Armagnacs (the king of Brandies and France’s first distilled drink)
- Bourgogne Aligote
- Floc de Gascogne
In addition, I think I ate duck about 7 different ways and even tried Steak Tartare which was surprisingly good.
I left a couple of bottles of wine in the cellar at the farmhouse in Condom which guarantees a return in the not too distant future; although the allure of Condom is as much for the company as it is for the wine.