Day 144: All you can eat…almost!

Now we knew when we were needed for the final few days of vendanging we made the most of our day off by heading over to St Chinian, an area known for its wine. The main premise for the trip was to check out a wine shop which had been recommended by one of GUB’s friends, however as we’d made the 40 minute or so drive over there it seemed silly not to combine this with some bike riding research and a bite to eat!

Before I go on to talk about the epic lunch or wine tasting, I have to quickly mention the drive down which was really pretty stunning. It took us along winding roads that hugged the banks of the River Orb, past vineyards where the leaves were just starting to change colour in the autumn light and through the charming town of Roquebrun where we saw tractor after tractor waiting to drop off their morning grape harvest. I have to say I felt rather smug that it was them not us that had to tackle the grape harvest this morning, however I’m sure that feeling will wear off when my alarm goes off at 6:30am tomorrow!!

Once in the town centre we did a quick recce to find the tourist information office, bike shop and several places to buy wine, before grabbing a bite to eat. We’d already arranged to head out this evening to meet another of GUB’s friends for dinner so planned to grab a quick bite to eat only, however when GUB and Rob’s salads arrived we realised today might turn into an episode of ‘Man vs Food’!! And that’s not even mentioning my steak and chips!

Mains slowly demolished the nice waitress asked if we fancied dessert, before reeling off a list of tasty sounding options. It seemed rude not to try some, as she was very friendly and we’d driven a way to get here, so we order a combination of chocolate pots and fromage blanc (a sort of rich yogurt/cream-cheese mix) served with spiced apples, caramel sauce and a sprinkling of speculoos biscuit crumble!! A quick coffee to wake us up and cleanse our palates and it was onto the wine shop – via tourist information to grab a few mtb route maps for Rob to check out next time we’re over.

The wine shop was like an aladdin’s cave, with row upon row of reds, whites and roses, and GUB was in his element! Having spent eight years living in the Languedoc region he has quite a good idea of what he does and doesn’t like and with a bit of friendly guidance from the sommelier went about selecting a few (*cough*) bottles to try.

Rob and I are a little newer to this wine tasting malarkey; back home we go on the price, the label and the description whilst in France we generally trust the opinions of our now employer who stock a great range of wines at their cellier and are more than happy to both recommend and let you taste. So while GUB was uming and ahing over this bottle or that, we were abusing the sommelier for knowledge, advice and samples.

Having spent the best part of a month grape picking we know a lot more about different grape varieties and have our favourites which make up our wine of choice – Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah – so to begin with we sampled a few drops made up of these varieties and from there the sommelier gave us a few more recommendations. GUB must have been feeling sorry for us, knowing we were soon heading back to the UK to face to the cold, dark winter months and treated us to a selection to help transport us back to a wonderful summer in France. In no particular order we settled on…

We’ll let you know our favourites once we’ve sampled them back home 🙂

With the car feeling a little heavier thanks to our full bellies and bottles of wine we bimbled back to Lamalou ready to psyche ourselves up for yet more food! After a few hours spent reading and relaxing, we made our way down to the restaurant, only to find out at the last minute that our guest couldn’t join us. But with the table booked – and at a restaurant we’ve not eaten at before – we decided to carry on anyway and enjoyed some rather tasty mains before moving onto dessert (well as I mentioned it was a new restaurant for us and we felt we needed to sample both their sweet and savoury options to be able to form a well-rounded opinion!!).

Rob decided on a fresh lemon sorbet to balance out his cheesy pizza, GUB went for an Ardeche inspired chestnut sundae to complement his typically French duck main and I went for the cafe gourmand because, well it allows you to try a taste of a lot of different desserts! All three desserts were lovely and generally just what we wanted, except maybe in my case where even my second dessert stomach failed me and I felt really pretty stuffed.

It seems the combination of me, GUB and Rob is a little deadly for both our waist-lines and livers and I think we’ll all start to feel a lot healthier when Rob and I head back onto the road at the end of the week and GUB can’t be led/lead us astray! Still it was all lovely food and one to add as an option next time we’re in Lamalou…

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