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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

Voici, the first Slurp! of the New Year; all about an obscenely good restaurant, an international combat zone and a greed-inducing gift for our readers.

Allez, loosen your seatbelts!

In this Slurp!
Hot and cold
Barrel collection
Eating on the road

and 1 movie!


Hot and cold


Because we toiled like oxen the entire year past, the New Year rewarded us with a soft and creamy prelude.


But it wasn't long before she showed her icy teeth. Unfortunately the vineyard couldn't care less.
Good wine knows no mercy; spring is on its way and before it arrives every single one of the 100.000 grapevines needs a trimming.


Consolation: wine making and writing have a lot in common. Like the noble art of pruning: cutting away the excess for the best result.


Motivated by this insight to the very follicles of his cap, the winegrower sits down at the end of the day to complete the final straws of his blood-curdling thriller Château Fatale.


Time in France moves slower than treacle. While the sun has been beaming into the fireplace for weeks, the Christmas spirit still haunts the old castle.


The winegrower's son has taken it upon himself to print a veritable After Tea* t-shirt for his creator.
(*The grape master was once the drummer of this world renowned 60's rock band.)


After a few affectionate tears have been shed and dried, the celebration of the winegrower's birthday can be concluded in style.


Over the following days the weather turns. Turns to bitterly cold.
In the morning a mist rises from the well as if it were - by means of a tunnel through the centre of the earth -in direct connection with the ice planes of Manchuria.


But a winegrower's lover worth her salt doesn't moan about a frozen barometer: with the breathless grape grower panting in her wake, she salutes the new day.


The ground was frozen solid, which meant that we were easily able to determine which animals pay us a visit, by reading their trails. But what animal are we dealing with here?


And this particular kind of white thin ice, the kind that tends to form in tractor tracks? The kind that is so satisfying to break when you step on it? Everyone in Holland knows it is known as 'attic ice'. But the wine grower's lover insists on the opposite: 'basement ice'. Who has got it right?


That afternoon the weather is glorious, and the winegrower-vehicle can come out for a trip to the market.


Cautiously, so as not to wake the woodland animals, we do our grocery shopping. A twig of thyme for in the soup, a little something for our sweet tooth and of course the black gold.


Truffles expensive? Truffle hunter Jean-Claude Boudin doesn't waste his breath on it: 'I keep my prices down.' On a yellow blanket he has laid out a neatly lined up regiment of little truffle piles.


The price tags, handwritten by Madame Boudin, range from € 68,95 for a toddler's handful to € 34,74 for two meager lumps that look more like a couple of shriveled up goat's droppings than anything else. But fortunately the French are happy to shell out for it.


Outside, in the late afternoon sun in front of the chateau, we enjoy a stimulating bowl of 'Potage Pompom à la Caroline'.
Cliquez ici pour la recette.

Barrel collection

in chai

At Château la Tulipe we use our barriques for a mere three years. After that the wine has extracted most of the aromas from the oak and we need to buy new ones. But we were able to make a Spanish colleague happy with our old barrels.


I have always thought of a 'deadlock' as a situation in which the opponents are locked in with each other and won't come out until at least one of them is dead. While it wasn't quite that bad, what happened next did come fairly close.


The Spanish driver has already collected a load of barrels from another winemaker in the region and refuses to help load the truck. ('Pablo is paid to drive camión. Pablo has soreback. Pablo not step out of camión.')
Taunted by this bullheaded Mediterranean our men too dig in their heels.


But the soul-melting appearance of the winegrower's lover with a cup of castle coffee thaws rocks and cleaves the earth. The obstinate tarmac-caballero doesn't stand a chance. Growling like a bear coming out of hibernation he climbs out of his cave.


'Merde! How will we ever get those barrels into that truck?' grumbles Phillipe, our maître de chai.


'Ha!' retaliates the lady of the castle. 'Why else did we buy that overpriced secondhand forklift? Hop! Hop! Come on, lift up those bastards!'


Plain sailing, until it is time to load the second layer of barrels and there's a shortage of hands. 'Hang on, where's the old man!?' the winegrower's son mutters with discontent.


The winegrower himself, seated in his floral armchair by the fire, engrossed in deep philosophical thought, is rudely awakened by the sound of his telephone.
'Get your ass over here, old man!' says the harsh voice on the other end.


Thanks to the united efforts of the La Tulipe ground force the camión is loaded quickly and efficiently.


And a contented Pablo is Riojabound with a nice bottle of Slurp 'pour la route'. Olé!

filmpje Cliquez ici for a liveregistration of this international conflict.
(Cliquez on the image below)
  If the video stalls or is blurry, cliquez ici

Eating on the road

The life of a winegrower is tough as nails and knows little mercy. On his arduous treks through the French interior he is hard pressed to find himself a bunk, and scrape together a paltry meal. This time he ended up here...


Hidden in the Provençal nothing-ever-happens-here-hamlet of Gémenos, at the end of a majestic drive lined with voluminous lavender bushes and awash with birds that chirp as if they are recording a CD, you'll find La Bastide Magdeleine.


This 'Démeure de charme' slumbers in the umbrage of ancient Plane trees, the peaceful tranquility underlined by the rushing of a fountain.


A few years ago the elderly madame Magdeleine transitioned to the Other Side. Her three sons had two options: pull each other's hair out in a tussle over the inheritance, or pull together to rebuild the dilapidated estate with the three of them. Without hesitation they chose the latter option.


Jean-Marc studied art history, but is now the receptionist. Jean-Claude, formerly a biologist, now runs the wine cellar. Jean-Pierre has been passionate about cooking since he was fifteen. He is well over fifty and still cooks up, singing with delight, a magical three course dinner for his guests every night.


The first floor can be reached via a shallow staircase, inlaid with softly gleaming 'tomettes'. The room doors are of painted wood and require poussez-ing.


The rooms are spacious, bright and all stocked with a beautiful young woman.


The dining hall radiates worn grandeur; it feels as if Louis the Fat could be carried in at any moment, in his sedan chair.


Creaky parquet flooring, immaculate damask and polished silverware. So far so good.


But then... a sunbeam from the dark side of the world, the colour of creamy chocolate and the taste of love. And yes, you are weak willed.


Because Pastis, well, it must be at least ten years ago...We drank it a lot, back then. But not anymore. Too strong; one glass of Pastis equals at least two glasses of beautiful red wine. And they are much too precious to us. But here, in the heart of the Provence, served by an African princess...Naturellement.


A lot of things need to be slurped. Wine, life and its precious moments. But if you were to slurp a sip of pastis, you wouldn't taste anything else the rest of the evening. It's like waterboarding for your tongue.
This pastis water jug stole our hearts. It made us so greedy that we did everything in our power to get our hands on it. Out of love for our Slurp readers we will donate this Provencal beauty as a gift to one such lucky bugger.


Voilà, a close up of the pastis jug (note that smart little thumb indentation just above the handle for a good grip). In the next issue of Slurp we'll let you know more about this irresistible souvenir and how it could be yours.


Faugères is one of those rare wines that is always a safe bet. Especially here in the region of its birth. A deep red wine made from Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, it tastes like you're having a bath in a tub of blueberries.
And then for something to eat...


'Risotto de noix de Saint-Jacques, tomates confites et jus de pistoe'.


'Noisette d'agneau farci au jus de sarriete, légumes de saison' (a bit of a shame though that the kitchen porter slipped with the bottle of Fairy liquid).


To finish we dealt a final blow to our blood sugar levels with a 'Truffé de chocolat à la mandarine, riz soufflé et tuile de cacao' and a 'Sablé de fraise, mousseline vanille, sorbet thym citron & fruits rouges'.


At daybreak the next morning we did, sated and slaked, our usual hundred laps.


After a festive breakfast we say our goodbyes to the three brothers. And board the winegrower's vehicle. As they are expecting guests from Germany, a matching dog has been selected from the Bastide-kennel. With a tail wagging 'Auf Wienerschnitzel' Blondi sees us out.

Bastide Magdeleine. 40 avenue du 2eme Cuirassier - 13420 Gémenos. Téléphone : 04 42 32 20 16



You can find Château la Tulipe de la Garde Bordeaux Superieur exclusively at Sainsbury's supermarkets.
Cliquez ici for more information.

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