Our flight to Zagreb leaves tomorrow morning at 7:10…..too early for us to drive in from Salleles d’Aude…..so we decided to spend tonight in Toulouse. We packed, rounded up Felix (who doesn’t seem to mind these journeys as much as he used to) and headed off to Chateau Miaou in Castelnaudary. Felix, quiet the whole trip, started meowing as soon as we arrived. Perhaps he now recognizes these scents as “familiar”…..he was soon out of his carrier and exploring his new surroundings. We left knowing our boy would be well taken care of.
We found our hotel near the airport…..the Pullman Toulouse…..and checked in. It’s modest exterior gave way to a bright, modern interior and a spacious room with a bed that looked so comfortable, we felt like curling up and taking a nap….but first things first. We drove back to the airport to return our rental car. There had been some issues with our contract when we picked the car up so we knew the return could take a while….and it did. When everything was straighted out to our satisfaction, it was after 5:00 and we were hungry.
I remembered reading that Christian Constant had opened a new restaurant in Toulouse. Mssr Constant, a Parisian chef who gave up his 2-Michelin stars at Hotel de Crillon’s Les Ambassadeurs to open his own restaurant, now owns three of the best restaurants in Paris (and has regained a Michelin star). We’ve dined at Café Constant (the most simple of the three)…..it was good, unpretentious food at great prices…..so we had high hopes that we’d enjoy his newest venture in Toulouse. But there were a few stumbling blocks…..we didn’t know it’s name or location and we didn’t have transportation.
Ah, but we were at the airport! We found the Information Center and an efficient young woman (who had never heard of Christian Constant) found the restaurant on the internet, wrote down it’s name, address & phone number and gave us a map showing where to catch the bus, what stop to take and directions to the restaurant. Within minutes, we were on our way to Toulouse.
We arrived before the restaurant opened, so we found a table at an outdoor café on the Place du Capitole, ordered a panaché (a refreshing mix of lemonade and lager) and sat back to “people-watch” while we waited for the magic hour of 7:00.
Le Bibent, originally opened 150 years ago….and a French monument for the last 35 years, had closed its doors a few years ago. Christian Constant decided to “wake the Sleeping Beauty and create a magical place for the locals”……and 1.6 million euros later, he did.
We were quickly served an amuse bouce of sardine pâté served in….what else….a sardine tin! I thought the sardine terrine I had in Arles was great…..but this pâté surpassed it in every way. Craig, not a fan of sardines, spooned scoop after scoop onto the petite toasts that accompanied it.
For our entree’s, Craig opted for a artichoke heart salad while I couldn’t resist “Oeufs Mimosa de mamie Constant”……deviled eggs like his grandma made. Although, the eggs had the best presentation, both were equally delicious.
We were almost too full to order dessert….almost. How could we pass up something called “La fabuleuse tarte au chocolate de Christian Constant” (the fabulous chocolate tart of Christian Constant)? It was, indeed, fabulous. The ganache, a rich blend of chocolates, was topped with a thin glaze of dark, dark chocolate…..the tart’s strong flavors were tempered by the whipped chantilly that accompanied it. Ahhhh…..it was good.
After a quick cab ride back to the hotel, we luxuriated in the comfy, queen-size bed for the few hours we had before our 4:45 a.m. wake-up call.
“The bed has become a place of luxury to me! I would not exchange it for all the thrones in the world” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte