It's my opinion that the very best excursion in any city is a food market tour. I'm a pretty fine home cook but I am not a "foodie". I am more focussed upon discovering local specialties and flavours than having an epicurean gourmet adventure. I've enjoyed cheese, wine, whisky (and whiskey), beer, coffee, cider, sausage, chocolate, champagne, truffle, and saffron tastings. I've taken Italian and Greek cooking classes with trained chefs and make those dishes often. Along Carcassonne's Rue Trivalle connecting Pont Vieux to La Cité, we were attracted to a storefront with a bicycle mounted over the door. Upon closer inspection we discovered the office of Carcassonne Food Tours offering three different local food tours: a Bike, Food & Wine tour along the Canal du Midi to a local vinyard; a Sweet Walking Tour and the Market Walking Tour. After talking with owner Cristelle, we decided upon the Market Walking Tour.
Market tours, led by locals, take clients through the local markets and streets to visit a variety of selected vendors. Some tours do tastings at each vendor. Some collect the specialties of the house for a tasting of all flavours at the end of the trip. Other food market tours offer a combination with tour leaders conferring with the vendor as clients are sampling the wares. CFT's tour was the latter. Cristelle picked up pre-selected packages as we chatted to the vendors learning about their business and specialty with some samples.
We were introduced to the best of the best artisan providers of local products. We started off from the office and walked across Pont Vieux to Pl. d'Eggenfelden to the indoor market, Les Halls Prosper Montagné. This indoor market is open every morning but closes by noon. The market of local artisans was conceived from a cooperative created by Prosper Montagne.
Our first stop was at Cathala Boucherie, part of La Maison Cathala, a group of butcher shops run by 5 generations of the same family. Here, we picked up duck paté and fritons (morsels) of duck.
Leaving Les Halls, we walked to the Saturday outdoor market at Rieux-Minervois where we got local lucques olives... a flat, crescent-shaped green olive from a local olive grower.
Then it was onto to Boulangerie-Pattiserie Papineau on Rue de Verdun for a fresh baguette. We had walked by this bakery often while meandering. There was always a long line and shelves were empty at the end of the day.
Our penultimate stop was at a tiny patisserie owned by rising star Rémi Touja to pick up some tasty desserts. Touja is a former chef at a Michelin 2 star restaurant in the city who decided to strike out on his own and has been getting rave reviews and from the culinary world. Notice the round sign mounted on the wall. This is official recognition of the quality of his offerings.
Our final stop was a great shop, l'Oenologue Fromager, a concept deli, fromagerie, and wine store. The owner is an expert in all!
Now the food had been gathered, we walked across the New Bridge to headed to a former distillery and now home to a co-operative of 1400 French wine-makers called Les Vignobles de Foncalieu. This is a stunning building with a great exterior.
The interior was even more stunning!
We tasted 5 different wines along with our feast.... which we came nowhere near to finishing, so we brought back "un sac de chien" for our supper back in the flat.
Our tummies were full and very happy as we sampled and tasted everything and, of course, we had a great view of la Cité.
Visitors to Carcassonne are highly encouraged to check out one of the three tours offered by Carcassonne Food Tours to experience more of the modern local experience under the passionate tutelage of Cristelle and her lifetime of loving Carcassonne cuisine.
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