Midi-Pyrénées: Food and drink in France's largest region


Bordered through the Pyrenean mountains, with Spain to the south and enjoying close access through neighboring Languedoc-Roussillon and Aquitaine, to both the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, families and couples who opt for a stay in one of the region's many gites will certainly find plenty to see, do and experience in Midi-Pyrénées.

But the one thing the region is particularly known for is its wide variety of mouthwatering dishes and fine aromatic wines.

Wherever you choose to eat out while on a gites holiday - at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the region, in a rustic, town-square café or even a homely farmhouse inn - as with every region in France, Midi-Pyrénées has its own exhaustive selection of local specialties to savour.

Garbure, a rich, dark and delicious soup made from vegetables, pulses and flavoured with a dried knuckle of pork, makes a mouthwatering appetiser, perhaps for the traditional Toulouse Cassoulet. Made from Tarbes beans, goose confit, pork rind, garlic, nutmeg and herbes, the dish is slow-cooked in a traditional cassolette, a deep, slanting earthenware pot from which it gets its name.

Locally-reared leg of lamb is another local speciality, as are the region's many unique cow, ewe or goat's cheeses. Rocamadour, Bleu des Causses, Laguiole, Pyrenean Tomme, as well as the world famous Roquefort.

Midi-Pyrénées is renown also for a mouthwatering selection of regional deserts, including the unusual gâteau à la broche or spit-roast cake, which is slow-baked, traditionally over an open wood fire and often enjoyed locally with a glass of Armagnac.

The crowning achievement of the croustadières art, however, is pastis gascon. Also known locally as croustade gasconne, the dish consists of a simple pastry of flour, salt and water that is drawn out over many patient hours until it is only one millimetre thick. The pastry is then cut and arranged into layers inside a special mould and topped with apples flavoured with vanilla and Armagnac. Finally, more of the now translucent pastry is piled on top and the whole thing baked to a golden brown. Delicious.

With its generous year-round sunshine and excellent mountain soils, Midi-Pyrénées is blessed with some truly magnificent wines. The region boasts 5 AOC (Appellation d'origine controlee) wines, with the most well-known producers being Saint-Mont, Pacherenc, Madiran, Gaillac, Fronton and Cahors wines.
Midi-Pyrénées is also famous for its Armagnac brandies, which are distilled in the region between Auch and Condom.