Victor Hugo (Not the Writer), And Food at Au Pois Gourmand

It was ’thrilling’ trying to get back to the Hotel. We roughly new which direction to travel in, but helping my friend Jules(2) through the massive crowds with a somewhat ’painful’ hip (she is due for a major operation soonish) was an interesting exercise. The night was still young and Bastille day celebrations continued, this is the national day of France when the French people united and triggered the French revolution on July 14th 1789.

At breakfast the next morning I suggested an ’easyish’ day, using Taxis, Metro and only walking short distances due to the impending heat that was forecast, and not wanting to be over tired for our next evening meal experience at Au Pois Gourmand, more of that in a bit.

The Victor Hugo Market (1896) is an old but established landmark of Toulouse, and our morning destination which we decided was in relatively easy walking distance, with the cover of the tree lined Boulevard de Strasbourg to protect us from the sun, in fact 22 minutes according to Google Maps!

On the way we passed a traditional street market by the side of the road, this seems popular in France, fruit and fumes but trade seemed good as we carried on to our first ’proper’ destination.

Markets fascinate me, at least ones outside of the UK do. We seem to have a real nervousness about certain parts of an animal anatomy. I do appreciate the views of vegetarians and vegans, I have eaten and cooked both styles of food, but as I have personally experienced to my detriment in the past 6 months, there are certain VITAL building blocks of the human body, Vitamin B12 being the one I was short of that made me very ill, that you can only naturally get from meat, and if you are going to partake in the consumption of said ’animals’ then you should use as much as the said animal to give it the respect it deserves. (Apologies to Vegetarians and Vegans, I am an eater of meat)

This market had everything as my first post indicated. Alongside the Tongues (Beef and Lamb), and Testicles there were ’lambs heads’, and I bet you are thinking what use is that? Keep reading this series of posts and you will find out, yes I ate ‘head’, well bits of it, more in a few posts.

As we carried on strolling around the market we saw food from everywhere, yes there were the local specialities, but Bacalao from Portugal, Meat from Scotland and Peppercorns from everywhere it was a foodies delight, and Jules(2) and I looked, stopped and chatted for what seemed a lifetime, it was a really enjoyable visit to an amazing market.

We decided to call it a morning, stopped for a coffee and then had a stroll to one of the many green spaces in Toulouse, it was only a few minutes from the market and on the way to the Metro station which we were going to try next. Jardin Pierre Goudouli was an occitan poet, click his name to find out his story, it’s really quite interesting.

Two stops on the Metro and we were within walking distance of the Natural History Museum, a really great place to spend a few hours gentle strolling through the various exhibits which were very well laid out and displayed.

We were starting to feel a bit tired with the heat, an UBER rescued us and enabled some respite, and a couple of hours sleep time before we headed out for dinner, well this is mostly a food blog, I would recommend the Museum though, what we saw was great and it was very inexpensive at €7.

Another Taxi and approximately 10 minutes away from the Hotel du Brienne is Au Pois Gourmand, our second eating experience (and Jules (2’s) last as she she was heading to Marseille the following day). I try and research what I do and where I eat I guess a bit like a detective looking for a needle in a haystack, I really hate disappointment when it comes to food. I wouldn’t say I was a great cook, but I can say ’I CAN cook’ having invested probably over 40 days and quite a few thousand pounds in learning from great chefs over the past 9 or so years, so if I eat something I know I could do better, and have to pay for it, well you know…..

As we were being driven to the restaurant, our UBER driver (we did use Taxi’s too, depending on the urgency!) asked if we were going to ’the’ restaurant, ’yes’, we responded. He said he had been told the food was not very good and it was expensive! Oh dear, I thought back at the checks I had made and also how much we had paid the previous night, his second statement was definitely wrong, but I was hoping I had not messed up.

We had been given an Amuse Bouche of something similar to a Japanese Custard, which was really nice, on arrival I had ordered a couple of glasses of Floc de Gascogne, a local aperitif made with a combination of Wine and Armagnac which got things going and went surprisingly well with the Custard and our starter, Langouste and Langoustine Liégeois which was, well yummy. it had a deep intense flavour and a light sprinkling of Piment D’Espelette which I have mentioned before to provide a delicate warmth.

BOOOOOOOM, here we go….The next dish was outstanding, the first was good but now we were heading into ’this tastes stunning’ country. Gambas and Langouste Tartare, Carrot and Citrus Vinaigrette, Puffed Quinoa. The Chef Ugo Plazzotta had been cooking in Asia and Shanghai, this dish suggested just that, it was utterly delicious, brilliantly balanced and my friend Jules (2) and I were talking about it for ages, the wine pairing was perfect.

I forgot to mention at the beginning the menu we choose, sorry! Langouste AND Langoustin with a wine flight of course, it would be rude not to, it was a great value choice at €99. Our sommelier was probably the most enthusiastic sommelier I have ever met, jeez he was so passionate about his trade it was infectious! The next dish to be presented before us, BOOOOOOOOOM Breaded langoustine with puffed rind, White Chocolate-Yuzu cream and its juice. Before you ask, puffed rind is also known as ’Air Bag”, yes I have some in my cupboard at home, inspired by a famous chef Glynn Purnell who has a Michelin star and a dish in his book ’Cracking Yolks & Pigs Tales’ where the ’air bag’ is used to coat squid and give it a crispy umami coating, delish.

Anyway, Chef Ugo had done it again, mixing White Chocolate in a savoury dish was a stroke of genius another talking point of the evening. I must find that UBER driver and correct his views on this restaurant, it’s brilliant.

Half-roasted lobster, seared green asparagus, Chanterelle fricassee and new pink garlic siphon. BOOOOM again, another winner, this Chef and his brigade were on fire, maybe not quite as precise as the previous night, but still very good indeed and all the food was delicious, nicely presented and service was very good too, with monsieur sommelier doing justice to every glass he poured, after explaining why it had been chosen to match a particular dish. Yumm.

Pre-Dessert, a ’Carbon Dust’, Lime and Cream concoction which cleansed the palate nicely. The carbon element was a pleasant surprise as it would normally suggest ’burnt’ but it did not taste like that all, just providing a pleasant texture with the lime and cream doing its stuff to prepare you for the finale.

The evening meal was coming to a close, our Garonne River Bank Table had been a talking point, was there a tide, was the water flowing up or downhill, the food was certainly front and centre of the conversation with the dessert a Surprise” Exotic Chocolate and Passion Sauce ending things very nicely indeed, a combination of Mango, Chocolate, Textures etc. we both said the night had been a complete success and that when I wrote my review, `i would make sure the excellent food was mentioned first’.

The next post concludes the Toulouse element of the trip, and the finale, which was…….wait and see.

………………………………..Until Next Time……………………L8ers………………………..

2 thoughts on “Victor Hugo (Not the Writer), And Food at Au Pois Gourmand

  1. Hi Julian.

    Following your trip with great interest. So envious of the food you have had and the experience in France. Seamus and I are meeting Joan and Bernard tomorrow night – having dinner with mutual friends.

    Just want you to know we think of you a lot and are delighted you are having such a good time. Xxx

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi Deidre, that’s so kind of you to say. It was an ‘immense’ week, meeting up with Julia from Tasmania again and the food, boy it was great. I feel relaxed and refreshed mentally, which is what I needed and yes, I occasionally burst out with smiles and laughter, the chocolate experience, all that lovely goodness, on everyone’s aprons 😂😂

      Looking forward to the next time we can get together, send my best to Seamus, Joan and Bernard.

      Much love,
      Jules – One of the Famous Five

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