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The Best Vegetarian Food Cassoulet and Tanat


Any excuse for a celebration right? 

That’s why I hopped on board the Bastille Day bandwagon and embraced all things French with my vegetarian cassoulet.

“What the!?” cry the vegetarians, as the cassoulet is traditionally chock full of snouts and entrails and other goodies likely to send a vegetarian screaming from the dining room.
“Sacre bleu!” cry the French as this cassoulet bears little resemblance to anything Madman would have served.

This vegetarian cassoulet is based on my interpretation/ recreation of one I ate at The Backbencher in Wellington, NZ.  So excited was I to see a vegetarian dish on the menu that wasn’t nachos or lasagna that I ordered the vegetarian cassoulet immediately.

And was very pleased I did. So pleased in fact that I went back and ordered it again the very next night With so many other brilliant eating establishments on offer in Wellington, this was quite the foodie faux pas, but chest la vie as they say in the Land of the Cassoulet.

Just recently, I happened to catch the episode of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey that is dedicated to the cassoulet. Here his barge meanders its envy-inducing way from Toulouse to Castel Audrey, stopping off at the St Papule Cassoulet Festival.

In delving a little into the wines of this region I was delighted to discover that Tanat was one of the grape varieties specific to this part of France’s South West. The reason I was so delighted is that I happened to have a bottle of Tanat * as yet untested! What a brilliant excuse to give it a whirl… and a swirl.

The Tanat is from Hawke’s Bay (NZ) winery de la Terre where they did such a fabulous job of talking up the health benefits of the tenant grape that I felt I owed it to myself and my loved ones to get some into us. In fact, in his book The Red Wine Diet, Dr. Roger Cored talks up the health benefits of procyanidins (good for your blood vessels, etc.), something tenant contains happily high levels of.

As the name might suggest, the tenant is quite tannic. Full-bodied, tannic wines tend to be on their best behavior around big hearty dishes like this robust vegetarian cassoulet. The smoky characters of the wine add an extra dimension to the cassoulet flavors. The deep dark color of the wine cries out for it to be enjoyed in the deepest winter when a comforting cassoulet is just what the doctor ordered.

If you don’t happen to have a bottle of tenant handy (and frankly, few would) a Bordeaux style blend would do the job very nicely, thanks.

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