Near Hyères and Toulon, there is a semi-island named Giens. Not far from my house, a hill is crowded with a lot of houses and swimming-pools arranged like a puzzle to protect privacy. My wife had told me : “where we go is a surprise”. It’s less than 3 minutes by car. The car stops on the hill in a private property. The house is still under construction. A woman comes to welcome us and I shake hand and give my name to present myself, wondering why my wife knows these people and not me. The house seems huge and well designed. I enter the place, and it appears not so private as many people sit at tables with an atmosphere of restaurant more than of a private party, as no one comes to say me “hello”. In fact the place is a “table d’hôtes”, which is not a restaurant, as the owner of the place does what he wants to do.
We are welcomed by a man, two metres high, the shoulders as broad as a rugby stadium and a bright smile. His arms could take a red wood, he would frighten a fighting bull. I learned some minutes later that he belonged to the French national team of rugby. The place is so nice that we wander around. The view is fantastic on the bay and on the semi-island, the terrace covers 36 x 5.5 metres, in our room there is a swimming pool along which is our table. The giant sits with us at our table to explain what will happen. I was wondering how my wife could know the place and I heard that it was a man having an antiquity shop who had told her : “you should go there”.
Immediately I see that the place does not care too much for wine. I ask if they have champagne, and among the names that he mentions, there is Cuvée Grand Siècle Laurent Perrier that I order immediately. It will not change much from what we drink at home.
On the table, come some tiny baby-fish grilled, some “rougets” (red fish ?) and with the champagne, it goes marvellously. The quality of the small fishes is great. The giant comes with an enormous fish in his hands, with impressive cutting teeth, and he proposes that we eat that fish. We say yes. Then he comes with a big basket full of lobsters wrapped in newspapers and lets us choose the ones we want.
We order a second Cuvée Grand Siècle and I notice that the two champagnes taste better than the same ones we have at home. Is it the atmosphere or the wine made one year before? We receive full plates of the tiny red fish extremely delicious.
Then come plates with ‘calamars’ and ‘seiches’ with a preparation which is probably the best that I have had. The taste is fantastic. We try one of the few reds that are available a Château les Valentines, Côtes de Provence 2004. This wine does not pretend to impress the planet, and is gently drinkable. Not complicated, but sufficiently drinkable. With the black ink of this octopus, it is brilliant.
Then, the lobsters, which were living on our table when we chose them, arrive, with a meat of an incredible whiteness. They were grilled with such a precision of time that the meat is fantastic. Extremely enjoyable. As the owner smells that we could like wine, he comes with a Domaine de l’Eglise 1998 Pomerol and tells us that someone offered it to him, and seeing that we would appreciate, he proposed it. We learned later that he offered us the bottle. This wine is rather modern. And I am a man who is not so fond of modern wines. But in this case, I found that all the work was intelligent. The fact that it is a 1998, successful year for Pomerol helped to love it. And as I have developed an interest for white fish and Pomerol, I was on a nice cloud of happiness while drinking this intelligent wine with the big tasty fish that I found anyway a little dry, as it is difficult when fishes are so big to keep an impression of lightness.
We were in a marvellous atmosphere with our children. The joy of life of this great sportsman is pleasant to share. The way he cooks fishes deserves applauses, and as his supply of fishes is of the ultimate quality (does he frighten the fishermen to have the best?), we have spent a marvellous dinner in a wonderful surrounding.
Some signs could indicate that I could come back with my wines.
We will see !!!