More wine and more fabulous food: Here’s where we took the 25 Chevaliers du Tastevin during the second half of day one of our Carcassonne Gastronomy and Wine Tours.
Gérard Bertrand’s Château l’Hospitalet
After our amazing lunch with paired wines, and extensive education at Emma Kershaw’s La Maison du Rire, we got back on the bus (Emma joined us to give us commentary about the region we were passing through, its terroirs, wines and gastronomy), and drove one hour east to Gérard Bertrand’s Château l’Hospitalet for a tour, wine tasting and a special surprise.
Several Gérard Bertrand wines were rated very highly in the November 2019 issue of Wine Spectator in the magazine’s extensive article on Languedoc-Roussillon. That’s one of the reasons we included the Château in our itinerary.
We had a brief tour of their modern cellars….
And then we had a special surprise for the Chevaliers.
Four members of an ancient wine brotherhood from the Narbonne area, the Confrérie de Septimanie of Narbonne, La Clape and Quatourze, met up with us at Château l’Hospitalet in their Confrérie regalia (an exact replica of the costumes that Narbonne consuls wore in the 17th century). They initiated the Chevaliers’ leader, Norman Mitchell, and his counterpart Alan Bully II into their organization.
And, what winery visit would be complete without a tasting?
Back to Carcassonne and on to Dinner at Comte Roger
For our first Carcassonne Gastronomy and Wine Tours dinner, we walked the two minutes from Hôtel de la Cité to restaurant Comte Roger for a delicious dinner of local specialties.
(Below) Fabulous foie gras (duck liver) paired with Château Rives Blanches Cuvée Occitania 2016. (This was the best mi-cuit (semi-cooked) foie gras that I’ve had while I’ve lived here. Rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, and no liver flavor.)
Superb Cassoulet, hand plated by Chef Pierre Mesa himself. Cassoulet, a hearty bean stew with duck confit, sausage and pork, is one of the classic, iconic, cherished dishes of the Languedoc and of France – more on Cassoulet at the end of this post. Ours was paired with Cave co-operative Embres et Castlemaure Grand Cuvée 2011
For dessert – a chilled parfait flavored with Muscat wine and a Languedoc-style sweet fritter. Paired with Muscat de St Jean de Minervois Barroubio Cuvée Classique 2018. Emma Kershaw and Chef Pierre Mesa chose the wines to pair beautifully with our three dishes.
Above, left to right – me, Chef Pierre Mesa, his wife Sylvie, Norman Mitchell of the Chevaliers, Sylvie and Pierre.
During our dinner, Alphonse Caravaca, a long-time resident of and gastronomy and wine connoisseur in Carcassonne and Occitanie, shared with us about gastronomy and wine in the region, and about the worldwide organization, Club Gastronomique Prosper Montagné. Alphonse is president of the regional Occitanie chapter, and he and Norman exchanged pins of their organizations at the end of the evening.
Then, back to Hôtel de la Cité to rest up for day two of our Carcassonne Gastronomy and Wine Tour!
Cassoulet: Cassoulet, a classic dish of Languedoc, is a bean stew that here, includes pork, a duck leg confit, and sausage. No gastronomical tour of the Languedoc would be complete without it.
The Origins of Cassoulet
The first cassoulet is claimed by the city of Castelnaudary (a 40-minute drive from Carcassonne), which was under siege by the British in 1355 during the Hundred Years War. The beleaguered townspeople gathered up the ingredients they could find and made a large stew to nourish and bolster their defenders. The meal was so hearty and fortifying that the soldiers handily dispelled the invaders, saving the city from occupation.
The name Cassoulet comes from the earthenware pot that it was cooked in, a cassolle or cassolo (makes me think of Casserole, of course), the pottery dish made close to Castelnaudary. A famous saying: Cassoulet is the God of Occitan cuisine.
It’s based on local ingredients and availability, so it varies from town to town. The three towns most widely known for the Cassoulet are Castelnaudary, Carcassonne and Toulouse. And I heard from a friend that a UK Chef and cooking show host James Martin stated that Pierre Mesa’s is the best available Cassoulet. So we chose our restaurant well for this evening!
Foie Gras: As you probably know, many states in the U.S. and many countries have banned foie gras. It is such a huge part of life and culture in France and especially in our region, I can’t imagine bans would ever happen here.
- December 3, 2019
- February 19, 2020