Sprawl On Tour: Two Days To Go.
Updated: May 2, 2019
This is the first instalment of our (time permitting) weekly blog, which will document all things Sprawl Kitchen, as we take a blind step into the unknown of rural Southern France.
At the time of writing this entry we are two days from flying to start our journey in the South of France. Abi has just let me know that she has filled two of our three suitcases and may need to put some more of her stuff in my case.
We have been handed a massive opportunity to take on the kitchen operation at the fantastic Brasserie Du Quercorb’s brew tap in Puivert for six months, starting on May 3rd. This is by far our most prominent challenge to date, as we will be running a daily food offering for the first time in our short existence. This is coupled with the fact that we possess (very) limited French! Although I am sure this will be incredibly challenging, we are spurred on by the amazing beer range BDQ has to offer, the fantastic local produce that sits on the doorstep of the taproom and the gorgeous view of the Pyrenees mountains as you step out of the kitchen. This will be amazing and I am certain that we will return to Liverpool better than when we left.
We were told about this opportunity by the lovely folks at Neptune Brewery, who are good friends with the owners of BDQ. When Abi had received the message, we were a little taken aback and we didn’t seriously consider it as feasible, in all honesty. We figured it would be worth having a conversation with BDQ at the very least and see what they had to say. An hour and a half conversation with Jayne (co-owner of BDQ) followed. I was sold. Jayne had told me about the pork that is reared on the spent grain from the brewery, the chilli farm a few miles down the road, the local cheeses and that despite being so close to vineyards in the Languedoc wine region their beers are making waves.
Jayne and Paul are from the UK (Jayne grew up in Maghull - it’s a small world!) and started their brewery about ten years ago and have since moved from strength to strength. Their clientele ranges from local shops, bars and pubs to Michelin starred restaurants (no pressure...).
They arranged for us to fly out to get a feel for Chalabre, where they have recently moved to a bigger brewery site and Puivert, where the taproom is located. Chalabre, on first impression, is really quiet - a little daunting (I am talking Wicker Man, Hot Fuzz... a little too quiet!). After our excursion to a local coffee shop and chatting to some of the locals and surprisingly lots of fellow brits, our worries were put to bed. Shop keepers humoured us, despite the language barrier. One particular cheese monger seemed incredibly amused by my mime for a cheese that melted well.
Andre, a Dutch man, was our host for the three days and he couldn’t have done more for us if he tried - even inviting us round for tea that first evening. He dished up a lovely courgette tagliatelle, after local cured sausage and olives, washed down with plenty of red wine! Graham, a brewer at BDQ, had given us a tour of the new brewery earlier in the day, before we sat and chatted on the terrace of the old converted Renault garage that the brewery now sits in. We had our first taste of Brasserie Du Quercorb beer (easily the best saison I have tried) and soaked up some sun. If we weren’t already sold on this move, we were now.
The BDQ Taproom is essentially a culmination of one of Abi’s Pinterest boards. Like the brewery, the taproom is another converted Renault garage. Its original roller shutter is still intact, opening up to a view of the Pyrenees. I still cannot believe that our food is going to be served there, with beer that good, in under 2 weeks. But I am so excited to take Sprawl Kitchen to France for the next six months and I cannot wait to get started!
The next blog post will arrive once we have arrived!
We hope you enjoy following our journey!