For those of us missing the essence of deepest France, the answer may be to indulge in some good wholesome French Food – particularly from the SouthWest of France, the source of goose, duck and foie gras. But for wholesome winter evenings nothing can beat the classic Cassoulet, originally from Castelnaudry (11 Aude, Languedoc). And in the heart of Nottingham there is a full-on French experience awaiting visitors to French Living (27 King Street, Nottingham, tel: 0115 958 5885) – a shop/cafe/restaurant also selling products of the South West – it all looks very French!
French Living was created in 1994 by Corsican/English partnership, Sephane and Louise Luiggi. The partnership also produced a book: Come to the Table: A Passion for Eating and French Living
Come to the Table is Louise Luiggi’s autobiography with recipes – it’s a story of two passions; love and food.
This is a deliciously romantic love story. Stéphane Luiggi, a brooding and darkly handsome Corsican meets fragile, blonde English girl, Louise, in the pink-bricked city of Toulouse – La Ville Rose. The couple discovers not only a passion for each other but they also begin to nurture a passion for food as Stéphane patiently tutors Louise in France’s culinary secrets. Food becomes the unusual yet evocative means of expressing the emotions that run through their story, as Louise and Stéphane’s life-experiences mirror the way it is depicted.
Malcolm John, chef/patron of the newly opened Le Cassoulet, hopes that Croydon is also waiting for its chance to dress up, drink Minervois and eat foie gras, escargot and 28-day-aged Chateaubriand… I find it physically and mentally impossible to see cassoulet on a menu and not order it….. It comes to the table in its own little lidded pot, complete with regulation crusty top, and a good mix of tender white beans, smoky sausage, shreddy, fall-apart duck, wibbly-wobbly pork confit and even bits of confit duck gizzard for good measure…… In the spirit of symbiosis, I choose a wine from the special list from south-west France and get a 2004 Domaine Berthomieu Madiran (£29) that is chunky, tannic, hard-working.
Le Cassoulet 18 Selsdon Road South Croydon CR2 6PA Tel 020 8633 1818
Other Cassouleteries include Comptoir Gascon in London’s Smithfield ( 63 Charterhouse Street,LondonEC1M 6HJ Tel: 020-7608 0851) and La Garrigue in Edinburgh (31 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DH T: 0131 557 3032)