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Cassoulet in Melbourne, well, Australia!


PCL
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Someone asked about cassoulet in Melbourne, I think, in some other thread. In any case, it might be good to start a little poll, survey, of cassoulet in this town. Of course, other cities should add in their two bob's worth! After all, winter's coming, judging by the weather outside today!

We can all make it at home, with patience and love.

However, we have a fine city/country for dining, and there must

be decent restaurant/bistro renditions of the great dish out there. Maybe even plan a cassoulet crawl...

So I'll kick this off...

Paris Go

Rathdowne St, Carlton, near the corner of Elgin.

Good cassoulet. Permanent fixture on the menu. $22. A little too tomatoey, but you get a sausage, a rasher of pork belly, and 2, get this, 2 confit duck legs. Beans well cooked, served hot, crust not a big feature, with breadcrumbs and parmesan.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 3 months later...
Good cassoulet. Permanent fixture on the menu. $22. A little too tomatoey, but you get a sausage, a rasher of pork belly, and 2, get this, 2 confit duck legs. Beans well cooked, served hot, crust not a big feature, with breadcrumbs and parmesan.

I went to Paris Go last night and had cassoulet for the first time.

I'm not sure when PCL last had cassoulet there, but it seems to me that they've changed the recipe. The one I had last night didn't have any tomato in it, there was a cutlet (I think it was lamb) in it in addition to the sausage, bacon, and the 2 duck legs. Incidentally, in regards to the duck legs, my "legs" came from the large bone that makes up the wing section of the bird rather than the far meatier real leg. There was no crust and no hint of parmasen.

Whilst the meat component of the dish was nothing special, it was the beans that shone out. They were tender, smooth, and creamy in the mouth. Glorious, just wonderful.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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There would have been tomato in the form of a puree/paste as part of the base for the cassoulet. For me, personally, the meats are more for texture than anything else, with the real star of the show being the beans beans beans beans beans.... YUM...

However, some people in France would include fresh confit/sausage/salt pork in the dish to up the ante on overall flavour and body. Kind of deconstructed.

And I last ate it at Paris Go like, the day before my post.

Apparently Bistro Thierry in Toorak does one too, so might head over there soonish...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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However, some people in France would include fresh confit/sausage/salt pork in the dish to up the ante on overall flavour and body. Kind of deconstructed.

I've been reading through various cookbooks (Wolfert, Bourdain, Strang etc.) about the variations of cassoulet - it's just a shame that you can't try the different varieties without travelling to France.

Speaking of which, I've just found out that Wolfert's "The Cooking Of South West France" is getting re-released in a couple of months - with extra recipes.

Apparently Bistro Thierry in Toorak does one too, so might head over there soonish...

I'm going to Bistro Thierry next Monday, so if it's on the menu, I'll let you know.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 3 weeks later...

Quick update.

Aux Batifolles, 400 Nicholson St, Nth Fitzroy, served up a cassoulet as a special a couple nights ago.

Sausage, duck confit, and lamb chop. "Pork is too fatty at the moment," said the chef (Stefan) but he was referring to the whole anti-fat thing, that horrible disease amongst common diners. Nevertheless, it was good. The beans were reinforced, or jacked up with a squirt of demi-glace just prior to serving.

Wholesome, flavorsome, and I still had room for dessert after.

In my mind, it was better than the Paris Go option.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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That reminds me, I've been meaning to add to this thread for the past couple weeks. I've come across several (well, 3) mentions in the past month or so about L'Oustal, in Albert Park.

The write up in the most recent Gourmet Traveller profiles the restaurant (glowingly) in the "Melbourne News" section, and specifically points out the cassoulet, going on about the individual ingredients.

Work colleague lives around the corner and is hooked, though she hasn't had the cassoulet. I'm sure plenty of others on eGullet have had a chance to try it, I haven't but plan to in the next couple weeks. Cassoulet would be at the top of my list to order, regardless of what else is on the menu.

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L'Oustal is next to a Mediterranean steak/seafood joint right?... Forget the name of the street...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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L'Oustal is next to a Mediterranean steak/seafood joint right?... Forget the name of the street...

The restaurant's at 166 Bridport St. in Albert Park. The description in the magazine reads

The cassoulet is terracotta coloured and rich with Toulouse sausage and proper confit duck, gelatinous pork belly and white haricots.... L'Oustal is not overtly - jingoistically - French; there is no Piaf on the sound system and no obviously Gallic decor flourishes. Yet its food will have Francophiles wistfully recalling that bisro somewhere in Champagne or Bordeaux that, without being spectacular, did everything spectacularly right... and at a very fair price."

OK, very typically glossy-magaziney copy, but still, sounds like it might be worth having a look. Even if it means steeling myself to head south of the river. :wink:

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At the local fox studios farmers market this week, there was a stall selling confit duck legs and cassoulet starter kits. $33 for 3 duck legs and another $33 for a tin of some beans and sausages...  :unsure:  :wacko:

I popped into that French smallgoods shop behind Readings in Carlton and their confit duck legs were $7 each.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Their cassoulet, when they have it, is GREAT. Lacking in pork belly though... their terrines etc as well, wow.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 4 months later...

Reading the review of LÓustal made me hungry - and think of this thread.

Do we have a new addition for cassoulet in Melbourne?

Paula Wolfert's book is being reissued in hardcover next month - about $50 it has a lot more recipes and the chapter on cassoulet is very interesting. One of the Michelin starred chefs in the region does a seafood 'cassoulet' but the one that seems to get all the kudos is the one using fava beans.

When we have time - we would always use Stephan's product from La Parisienne. You should also try the rillettes and the tarts on Friday when they have just come out of the oven....

"The purpose of a cookery book is one & unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind - Joseph Conrad"

www.booksforcooks.com.au

new & old books about wine, food & the culinary arts bought & sold

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I went to La Parisienne today. I bought their venison sausages (very good flavour, but slightly too salty), pork sausages (superb), and boudin noir (in the freezer).

Going into Christmas, they're going to have a few specials for sale including foie gras, duck sausage, escargot and pesto tarte, and saffron fish soup. I can't wait.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Yes, L'Oustal's cassoulet certainly cuts the mustard.

It was an assembled piece really, much like how Keller might do it. One crit would be that the sauce could have done with more body.

Overall, at L'Oustal I feel that they could do with more BUTTER.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 3 months later...

Went to Libertine in North Melbourne last night. They've got a new autumn menu and it has cassoulet on it.

If the other dishes we had were anything to go by, the cassoulet will be a winner. A full review of the restaurant will be posted later.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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There's meant to be parmesan in cassoulet? Most of the ones I've seen don't include it.

There's an old-school French joint in Manuka (Canberra), Christophe's, that does cassoulet, but it's a bit too oily and liquid for my tastes. I like it best when it's a bit more solid. No Sydney datapoints yet for me, but I'll make a note to investigate when it gets cooler out.

Personally, I like it best at chez moi -- whenever I have extra sausages from a barbeque, some oddments of a lamb roast, and maybe a chicken leg or two in the freezer, I just chuck them all into a pot with some beans (hell, you can use tinned Edgell white beans, they're fine) and tomato (from a tin) and some thyme from the herb garden, and cook very slowly, stirring in the crust on top periodically. I actually use the seasonings from the Julia Child recipe, but the technique from my uber-daggy yet classic Better Homes cookbook. Still, I've gotten rave reviews. If I have leftover duck or goose fat handy, I'll chuck that in as well for added flavour. (I really need to cook a goose again. Last time I did, I was well-stocked for goose fat for a year or two...it keeps well in the fridge if you skim out any odd bits.)

Really, the aim of the dish is to use up leftover odds and ends of precooked meat, so if I make it, that's exactly what I do.

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I've had cassoulet twice in restaurants and I really don't see the point. The problem lies in how you serve it. Cassoulet occupies that odd spot where no low priced restaurant will serve it because it takes way too much effort and skill and all the high end restaurants serving it just can't stand a messy glob of stuff on your plate so they need to fiddle with it.

Usually, what I am served as "cassoulet" is some sort of bean and sauce base with a single duck leg and pork chop artfully placed on top and sprinkled with some asinine garnish. The leg is clearly not confited and clearly not cooked with the beans because that would dirty the meat and sully presentation. No sign of breadcrumbs anywhere. In the end, it feels like your trying to have sex in a hazmat suit.

I don't want artfully arranged cassoulet. I want a huge glob of mish mash, a spoon and a good fire to curl around. I maintain that cassoulet is a dish that is unsuitable for restaurant cooking in Australia.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Cassoulet should not have parmesan in it. No way.

Shal, I think the people who try to make artfully arranged cassoulets are missing the point and should not be serving it up in some deconstructed state or approximation. Somethings you don't fuck with.

edit to add: Shal, can you tell us where you had cassoulet??

In any case, all of the cassoulets I've enjoyed in Melbourne establishments have all been duly and respecfully rustic and recognisable and enjoyable and suitably comforting. I hate to say it, but is this another Melbourne-Sydney difference??

And re: Christophe's in Manuka... they still around? What's the rest of their food like??

Edited by PCL (log)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Cassoulet should not have parmesan in it. No way.

Shal, I think the people who try to make artfully arranged cassoulets are missing the point and should not be serving it up in some deconstructed state or approximation. Somethings you don't fuck with.

edit to add: Shal, can you tell us where you had cassoulet??

In any case, all of the cassoulets I've enjoyed in Melbourne establishments have all been duly and respecfully rustic and recognisable and enjoyable and suitably comforting. I hate to say it, but is this another Melbourne-Sydney difference??

And re: Christophe's in Manuka... they still around? What's the rest of their food like??

Tabou and Bilsons do decent versions, both restaurants from varying ends of the hauteness scale.

Bilsons' cassoulet was remarkably rustic given the fact that it is likely the most classically accomplished French restaurant in Sydney. Decent-sized (read huge) serve too. PCL, if either Tabou or Bilsons have it again (I think they were taken off for the warmer months), do give it a go.

Shal, you should be upholding the honour of the Harbour City. We don't have sex in hazmat suits :biggrin:

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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  • 3 weeks later...

The Brasserie at Crown, Melbourne.

About the only decent thing they did when I visited them. Special's board, not on the regular menu. When two of us ordered it, they had the good sense to serve it in one large tureen.

About all I can say that is positive about the place, based on one unbiased visit of course.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 3 months later...

The missus went out with the girls on Friday night, so I got a serve of cassoulet from La Parisenne in Carlton. Ah, it was very good. And the little one (all of 10 months old) had her first taste of cassoulet too - she loved it.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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they do a marvellous example of the dish.

making me homesick now.

but not quite sure where home really is at the moment.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 2 years later...

Wednesday is cassoulet night at Libertine. I went with a friend last night, and with the cold weather in Melbourne, it went down a treat. The beans were nice and creamy, the confit duck was as it should be, and the sausage was full of porky goodness. It was very enjoyable.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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It's in the Peoples' Republic of North Melbourne.

There's another thread on this board about Libertine, and their website is www.libertinedining.com.au

Myself and some friends went there last year for their suckling pig dinner - it was magnificent.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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