Ever found yourself somewhere new with a list a mile long of places to eat/ foods to try? Well when you’re travelling solo, it’s nearly impossible to get through that list (and believe me, I have travelled on my own enough to know!) – because, really, there is only so much you can eat in a day, right? 😉 This is one of the reasons I love the idea of walking tours (see some of my favourite food-themed (and other) Paris walking tours here) – not only do you get a chance to meet new people but you get to sample many of those things on your “to taste” list without having to buy full-sized portions.
I always seek out these types of tours whenever I am in a new town – or even a not-so-new town like Toulouse (where we have spent a few days on the end of our trips to Nérac over the past few years). This March Break I found myself alone in Toulouse with just one day and decided to make the most of it by taking one of the new Chocolate and Pastry tours offered by Jessica at Taste of Toulouse. Jessica’s an American “Toulousaine at heart” who runs English language food-themed tours and wine/ cheese tastings in Toulouse and I’ve been dying to meet her as I’ve followed her journey on social media. Jessica, who hails from Michigan, is WSET Level 2 trained, a French Wine Scholar and has worked as a cheesemonger so she’s well qualified to help English language speakers navigate their way around the food and wine of Southwest France:
As a certified French Wine Scholar, ex-cheesemonger, and French food obsessive, my goal is to take you on a sensory adventure through the culinary wonderland of SW France while helping you decode the intimidating and confusing aspects of French food and wine.
Sounds good, right? So, on a sunny Friday in late March, I joined a small group for a 3+ hour tour sampling some of the city’s finest sweet treats – no guilt involved because I was sharing 🙂
We started out at Criollo Chocolatier on Place Saint-Étienne where we enjoyed Chocolat Chaud Bao Dai (with lime and red pepper). It was simply outstanding. Reminiscent of Mexican spiced hot chocolate only more intriguing…
We discovered the quaint charm of Patisserie Conté
We had the chance to discover “French fudge” at La Compagnie du Chocolat (the only place you can get it in France!)
More like a ganache than a fudge but definite fudge-like elements though it’s less sweet than classic fudge, so you can try a couple of different flavours! We lucked out and chatted with the chocolatier, Vincent Puyuelo, at length on this stop and it was a fascinating look into his world. Hint: they make the products right there in store which is a neat bonus!
Next up, I got my macaron fill at Maison Pillon – Jessica’s pick for macarons in Toulouse. We tasted macarons in various flavours – cassis-violette, lemon, passion fruit, and cherry/piment d’Espelette (to die for!).
Our final chocolate stop of the tour was at the gorgeous tea room at Bello et Angeli
Here, we learned a little bit about the process of how chocolate is made (from bean to bar, literally) and tastes a variety of unique chocolates – roasted cacao beans (the top item in the image above. WOW. Must be tasted to be believed!), two types of single-origin chocolate bars (Vietnam 74% and Sao Tomé 67% – you’d never think such a small different in percent of cocoa butter would have such an impact on taste but it really did), a single-origin ganache, a roasted corn praliné (again, just WOW!), and orangettes (my favourites!). This location of Bello et Angeli is a lovely tea room where you can enjoy a drink with your sweet treat – highly recommended as a place to while away the afternoon!
Our final stop on the tour was Sandyan by Yannick Delpech. Now, I thought the window display of all their baked viennoiseries looked amazing…
These are Delpech’s famous “oeufs coques” – trompe l’oeil eggs with passion fruit coulis, double cream, and mango and green tea. Yes, they are as good to eat as they look! Delpech is the chef at “L’Amphitryon”, the Michelin-starred and Gault et Millau acclaimed restaurant just outside Toulouse and he was the youngest in France to receive a Michelin star (at the age of 24). Sandyan is the collaboration with his partner, Sandrine and offers a wide range of classic French pastries with seasonal ingredients and fun twists.
This might look like a regular chocolate éclair but it’s actually pecan-caramel and was surprising and unique (because you were just expecting chocolate). We sat in the tearoom upstairs at Sandyan for AGES chatting and debriefing our tastings (and heads up they have a wicked rose/ lychee cocktail to enjoy with your treats!)
Jessica offers a fabulous overview of Toulouse’s sweet treats – many of them completely off the tourist radar (well, at least mine!) and if you’re in town for a few days, I’d highly recommend taking a tour (she also offers tours of the Victor-Hugo Market) at the start so you can return to some of the places throughout your trip. And of course, if you’re a solo food enthusiast and only in town for one day, this is definitely the activity for you!