Even I will admit that cassoulet doesn’t take the most beautiful photograph. But then neither does a serving of mac ‘n cheese, or risotto. What links the three is that they are all comfort foods, each delicious in its own way.
Today after visiting Sarlat, we drove down to La Roque-Gageac, one of the most beautiful villages in our area, along the Dordogne River, for lunch. As we usually do, we ate on the terrace of L’Ancre d’Or (the Golden Anchor), where the view is lovely, the service is friendly, and the food consistently good.
We stayed simple today: Just kirs to begin, and then cassoulet for me and grilled duck breast and pommes sarladaise for my wife. (She found the duck “excellent,” the tenderest and best-tasting she’s had since we arrived here in early August.) As for me, I love the cassoulet at this restaurant, and wasn’t disappointed.
If it’s new to you, here’s the basic scoop: Cassoulet is considered the classic dish of southwest France; it’s essentially slow-cooked white beans with a variety of meats; and it’s fairly hearty. The version at L’Ancre d’Or has just two meat portions: a small pork sausage, and a piece of confit de canard (duck leg that’s been slow-cooked in duck fat so that it’s falling-off-the-bone tender). What sets it apart is the perfection of the beans — tender without being mushy, in a sauce that’s flecked with the tiniest bits of parsley and tomato, and creamy from the starch that’s been cooked out of the beans (the way that starch is coaxed out of the arborio rice in a good risotto). It’s delicious, even if it’s not a thing of beauty. (In the photo below, I added the geranium leaf just to give the dish some colour. Pardon me.)