gate-in-woodsSunday was another round of Ferme en Ferme, or Farm to Farm, this time winding through the Black Mountains north of Carcassonne.

mountain-in-fogIt was much more crowded than the one we did in the spring. And strangely, the license plates of the cars we saw were mostly from the region, compared with lots from far afield in the spring. A cloudy morning turned into a gloriously warm and sunny autumn afternoon, perfect for a jaunt in the countryside, and maybe everybody had the same idea.

cows-on-hilltop
Do you see the cows on the hilltop?

We examined the map carefully, knowing we could hit only four or five of the 17 participating farms, which stretched from Argeliers, well east of Carcassonne (with a snail farm), to Revel in the west (with a farm raising angora goats for mohair).

accueil
The reception area, with a fire grilling samples of steak, below.

steak-tastingWe decided, what the heck, to start off with La Calmilhe, about halfway between Cuxac-Cabardès and Mazamet. The road is impeccable, but so winding that it took us 45 minutes. The scenery was stunning–black forests (hence the name of the mountains!), distant vistas, lush pastures.

cows-sitting-inside

La Calmilhe, run by the Régis family, raises cows and taurillons (bullocks) of the limousine breed. We had been there before, only to discover that they had planned for 700 meals, had already served 900 and were turning away everybody else. We tried again over the years when they were on the program, calling to reserve, but always too late to get a spot. This time we went to buy their produce and didn’t expect to get in on the meal. We anticipated a roadside picnic, picking up baguettes to eat with cheeses and hard sausages bought at the farms.

To our amazement, there were only two cars in the pasture that served as parking lot (if you do Ferme en Ferme, make sure you don’t have a low-riding car or you’ll never get out–all the parking areas are in fields!). Even more surprising, when we admitted we hadn’t reserved, they said they could squeeze us in. Luckily we had brought our own flatware. Lesson: as soon as you get out of airport security, keep a pocket knife with you at all times so you are never at a loss when confronted with sausage, cheese or a bottle of wine that needs opening.

La Calmilhe runs a well-oiled machine: the lines were set up to pay (€14 for the meal including wine), get a ticket for either daube (beef stew) or bull steak, then get a tray with a salad, apple and choice of cheese/flan/rice pudding.

salad
That’s boudin on the salad. The pocket knife is Laguiole.

Those choosing steak got theirs on the spot.

steak-in-package
A vacuum-packed pair of taurillon steaks

After having the salad, the daube eaters could go to the daube stand to be served, while the steak eaters had to go outside to grill their own. Brilliant move–you can cook it how you like it.

preparing-coals
Preparing the coals
carrying-grill
Putting the grill over the coals
steaks-on-grill-brown
The Carnivore likes it either saignant–rare–or bleu–VERY rare.

steak-on-plateHaving arrived so early, we were the first in. It soon filled up, and people scouted for places to sit. The Carnivore found it funny that we were eating in a manger–and manger of course comes from manger–the French verb “to eat.”

daube-cooks
The daube being heated in a bain-marie (double boiler)

daube-on-plateThe steak was judged tender and juicy by the Carnivore, who despite extensive research has had trouble finding bull meat that works on the grill.

cans-of-daube

As for the daube, it was delicious. They just opened cans of their own product (smart move–they could easily open more or less as needed), making the case for buying a few cans to take home. If you can’t get here to buy some, try this link to 15 traditional recipes.

wall-of-hay

stone-house

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14 thoughts on “Grilled Bull

    1. Really!? Which farms did you visit? I have too much stuff for one post, so I’m going to stretch it over a few. I didn’t know about the tax break. That’s good. Usually there’s punishment for business on Sundays.

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  1. Is there a link to see what is coming up in your area? We’re in Southern Germany at the moment….. can not quite believe it….

    Soon!!!
    Ali

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    1. I loved it too–very different from in the valley. What’s nice is that I live in a sunny, warm place and can drive 30 minutes and be in a completely different environment–mountain or sea.

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  2. Your post earlier in the year inspired me to go to the farms this fall! We started at Le Rodier, and got to Calmilhe after lunch, when the meal was well and truly winding down. Funny to think that two fellow bloggers were there too!! One of the Regis guys told me that they were not allowed to “cook” anything for the day, hence the daube out of tins and the steak which everyone grilled themselves. This being France, there is always a way around regulations!! 🙂

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    1. Interesting! The whole thing is promoted, yet there are regulations at odds. I don’t see how any pop-up restaurants can pull it off. I suspect most just ignore the regulations and figure that if they get caught they’ll shut down.

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  3. Hi, interesting blog, I know I’m commenting on an older post but I had to start somewhere? We visit France every year, mostly Burgundy and Loire now, but in younger days with our children it was the annual trek to Languedoc we looked forward to. Food has a way of triggering memories and your grilled bull has done that for us. One of our best meals ever was somewhere near Carcassonne late one lunchtime, all four of us were starving as we pulled into a tiny Auberge, only five tables, one vacant. Only serving one thing ….. a beef daube! Utterly brilliant large chunks of bull in a red wine gravy served with green beans and tons of bread. We’re still talking about it 30 years later! Just followed you to.

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