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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

Voici, a freshly bottled Slurp! full of glorious spring sunshine, a victory at the most important wine competition in France and a cheap as chips 'adresse' for divine dining.

Allez, on y va!

In this Slurp!
Le printemps est arrivé!
Silver medals at the Vinalies
Vin du Patron

Le Printemps est arrivé!


The hut is looking well. While April kicked off with a chilly opening move, we have since been spoiled with days of heartwarming sunshine.


Here and there the thought of a bit of a lick of paint raises its head, but hey, as they put it so well in France: 'Ça presse pas...'


The vineyard awakens from her hibernation. Jubilant with desire the vines stretch out and reach their budding leaves up to the heavens.


If you look closely you can already spot the flower buds. Towards the end of May the vines will bloom and these buds will transform into tiny bunches of baby grapes.


All day long the birds of the castle park sing their hearts out, as if air didn't cost nothing. Down below them the daisies turn their joyful faces toward the sun. "Noisy show-offs", you can almost hear them think.


In his free range pen the winegrower-mobile is pawing the ground, rearing to go. Next month he will again ride out to battle; six brand spanking fresh episodes of 'Gort à la Carte' are dying to be recorded!

Silver at the most important wine competition of France


Wine competitions happen throughout the year. In France alone there are dozens of them. Beside the French festivals the ambitious winemaker can send in his love children to Belgian, German, British, American or Chinese wine contests.


Well, we don't bother with that. We send our wines to only three wine competitions a year. The Vinalies is, in our eyes, the most important one among them because it is judged by prominent French oenologists (winemakers).


While we'd of course rather win gold, in this case we are not too upset about the silver medal we received for our 2012, (now for sale at Sainsbury's).
Cliquez ici.

Vin du Patron


The experienced France-trotter will instantly recognize it, one of those hidden locations where lovers of French cuisine can gorge themselves for next to nothing: what is known as an 'Adresse'.


In this case 'tant mieux', as we are dealing with an emergency situation: it has been ten minutes since the clock struck twelve! The winegrower's lover, tormented by the subterranean rumbling coming from her stomach, abruptly does a u-turn.


This is looking promising: only the clientele of the establishment is allowed to be stationed here. Clearly they don't need to be told twice. The car park is crammed full.


Not a cent went to waste on the exterior. A good sign because that means the profits go to the kitchen and not to paint and concrete.


The stairs to the washrooms too evidence that typical robust lifestyle we so appreciate.


Inside the atmosphere is buzzing. A more than life size TV-screen allows the gormandizing guests to follow the preparation of their order in the kitchen via live minute-to- minute coverage.


Unfortunately there is no more room in the hardcore area; the winegrower and his lover are ushered into the 'Salle'. While here too the waiting staff rush back and forth, laden with cornucopial plates, but the atmosphere is somehow, how shall I put this, 'different'.

Not exactly a wild salacious orgy, but that is understandable: every inch of focus is being summoned for the ingestion of the meal. This is eating for professionals, that much is clear.


The furniture is built for hefty guests and the table setting is sober. Nonetheless booking ahead is advised.


As the tables are positioned with surgical precision, the view is rather limited.


But gladly one can enjoy the rich natural panoramic views trough the window.


In these kinds of establishments 'Le Buffet' more often than not doesn't amount to much: a couple of tubs of greasy sludge and a blob of rancid whatchamacallit and that'd be it. Not here!


Over at La Bascule one can load up one's plate to the max with salade Piedmontaise, fresh red cabbage, olives both black and green, Italian tomato salad and more. Even 'bulots', sea snails blanched in stock, are there for the taking.


But then it all falls apart. With total disregard for the preference of the customer, all tables are equipped with a single kind of wine: a uniform jug containing unidentified 'Vin du Patron'. Consumption of this however is in triple contradiction of lesson 1 of the Wine survival guide, written by the Winegrower himself: 'Drink jaimais the Vin du Patron'.


Filled with desperation the wine hero looks about him. When the waitress shakes her head in denial in answer to his request for 'La carte des Vins', a tear spatters on the paper damask with a gentle splash.


But any winegrower worth his salt knows how to push his boundaries when times are tough. Valiantly he dries his tears and voilà, his trembling hand is already reaching for the forbidden liquid.


The heavily insured nose disappears into the glass... The tension is palpable. The winegrower's cheeks puff up. With sounds that are reminiscent of a newly unblocked sewage system, the well-trained wine connoisseur swishes the red juices around the jowls.
All of a sudden his weather-beaten countenance takes on a surprised expression.
'This is delicious!' he praises. 'Juicy! Fruity!' The famed master oenologist then announces his verdict: 'Beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is a Beaujolais. And a good one at that!'


With uncharacteristic vigour, the expert slurper jumps up from his chair: 'Madame, s'ils vous plaît', he stops the alarmed handmaiden in her tracks. 'What kind of wine is this?'
'It is red wine, monsieur.'
But the obnoxious grape pusher doesn't let up. 'What kind of wine? Is it Beaujolais?'
Uncomprehending, the heavily underpaid employee looks up at the grape whisperer. 'I don't know what you mean...'


She hesitates briefly. 'All right then', she lets out an exasperated sigh, 'follow me down to the basement for a moment. You can see for yourself.'
In the vaults underneath the restaurant she points to a pile of cardboard boxes.
'That's the wine there'. She gestures toward a machine that is unfamiliar to the winegrower: 'Those boxes, we empty them in that, and then it's all mixed together...'


'...And then we fill the boxes again and connect them to this thingamajig.'


'But what KIND of wine is it?' the studious grape grandee insists again.
Doubtfully the little waitress fondles one of the anonymous cardboard boxes.
'Erm...' She is silent for a moment. Before she continues brightly: 'Either way these hoses take it upstairs and then...come and have a look!'


'Look, when I pull this lever voilà, there is our Vin du Patron! Isn't it nifty?'


After the 'Entrée du buffet' follows the 'Poisson avec des legumes'.


The poisson reveals itself as a 'Saumon farci', salmon stuffed with trout and herbs in a soft and creamy sauce. Delicious.
But the accompanying 'legumes' spark off some debate.


'In France they class chips as a vegetable, you see!' the winegrower's lover coos enthusiastically and starts avidly spearing the chips with her fork.
But then the winegrower intervenes.


After a tough-as-nails negotiation where both the winegrower and his lover are committed to a zero tolerance policy, the heated lovebirds reach a compromise: five chips. And not a single crumb more.


The enterprising proprietor offers his guests a special additional service. Because judgments on his cuisine lead not infrequently to argument, he takes the hassle away from his consumers and looks after his own restaurant reviews by way of the sugar stick.


Every day at twelve pm sharp France falls silent; 66 million French sit down to lunch.
And exactly two hours later those same 66 million French want to pay their bill.
This does not sit well with the wine grower. Joining the back of the queue! Waiting! Impatiently the grape peddler elbows his way through the crowds and stabs his plastic money sword at the cashier.


But he is not impressed. 'Ho ho, mister winegrower, that's not how we roll. All those people ahead of you still have to write their cheques.'


The regulars at the zinc observe the antics of the ill-tempered Dutchman with bemusement. 'Ils sont fous, les Hollandais', you can hear them think.


When the umpteenth guest takes out a medieval looking chequebook from his handbag and embarks on the complicated filling out procedures that are involved, the winegrower gets his teeth stuck into the culinary stunts of the chef.


Two hours and € 27,60 later and the winegrower-vehicle is entirely encased. But the winegrower's lover knows just how to handle a situation like this: her hands in front of her face she gently squeezes the vehicle out from among the hordes, guided only by the sounds of scraping, scratching and bashing.



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

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