Starting the meals with an aperitif of a selection of tapenade and a glass of kir, I usually stumble through my meals with a lingering silhouette of alcohol induced stupor. This is the initial phase of a voyage through a French gastronomical indulgence. I always believe that if the beginning is good, the whole duration of the experience is unforgettable, down to the last crumb of the dessert. And I am usually right.
Let's base it on experience, with my growing waistline speaking. Just a few days of French living and here I am struggling to close the last button of my pants giving me less liberty to move freely. I'm sure you know how uncomfortable it is to go through the feeling of the peril of ripping pants or popping buttons while on vacation. I should learn to be smarter sometimes and take the ones with the elastic waists.
Now that you know that my pants are already way too tight, let's speak about the cocktail drink which is the beginning of everything. KIR. It's a classic French cocktail drink mixed with Creme de Cassis (black currant liqueur) and Bourgogne Aligote' white wine originally but nowadays, any dry white wine would do and with a variation of liqueurs. There is also the Kir Royal which uses champagne instead of white wine.
My friend, on the other hand made me try the one with Sirop de Rose (rose syrup) which had a delicate flavor of flower petals. I had to agree that she has a reason to love it.
To get a bottle of the Sirop de Rose at La Grupie was one of the reasons why we went to the 814 meter high hilltop town Mons in the Var, at the Provence - Alpes - Cote d'Azur. The shop has a selection of artisanal Provencal gastronomic products that will leave you fascinated with every single product. I left the shop with many kilos more and I would have bought more if only I didn't have a limit to my luggage weight. I limited my purchases to Sirop de Violette (violette syrup), Sirop de Rose (rose sryup), a selection of tapenade and an assortment of macarons.
A few meters from the shop is a treasure of a restaurant called Chez Barbaroux of Pacome and Eve Pialet, which, from aperitif to dessert was an unforgettable experience. It has a very cozy and friendly ambiance nestled in an alley in between residential houses. Pacome cooks everything with perfection and it was a delight to my palate (and to all the other patrons around me) to try all the flavors that he put together from the tapenade down to the fondant au chocolat with vanilla ice cream. I would tell you all the names of the other dishes if only I can remember anything in French. My French is an embarrassment, unfortunately.
The town of Mons is very small. It can be seen on foot in about half an hour. We did less because we were sizzling under the heat of the sun. In fact, we were the only ones in the alleys braving the heat. From the parking lot, you can cross the wide grassy area that overlooks the valley. The view from that part of the town is breathtaking.
If you find yourself in the area, make a little side trip to this quiet little old village and indulge yourself in Chez Barbaroux's excellent dishes and La Grupie's gastronomical surprises to take home.
Makes 1 glass
- 9 parts (90 ml.) white wine
- 1 part (10 ml.) Creme de Cassis
- Splash the Creme de Cassis in the wine glass then pour the white wine on top.
- There are different ratios of white wine and Creme de Cassis used. This recipe was adapted from the International Bartendender's Association's ratio. My best advice is to just mix it based on your personal taste.