We have landed (and the holiday is over)
Updated: May 3, 2019
So we promised an update when we arrived and after a week of being here we (hi, it’s Abi) finally got round to it.
So last Friday our alarms went off at a horrific 4am and we peeled ourselves out of bed blurry-eyed and in desperate need of a strong coffee. Fuelled by those early morning espressos we got ourselves ready and headed to Manchester Airport. Bag drop was easy, security was swift, Boots meal deals were consumed and our flight to Toulouse was boarded. Upon arrival we grabbed a quick coffee and went to pick up our hire car. It all went extremely smoothly – too smoothly according to Keenan…
Keenan’s suspicion materialised pretty quickly once we were on the road. Traffic was really bad out of Toulouse. Like really bad. It seems like French drivers love to dart in and out of lanes and the use of indicators is apparently optional. So I spent the first hour of our drive switching between 1st and 2nd gear, trying to manoeuvre out of the way of numerous ambulances and navigating round car crashes. Meanwhile, Keenan tried to find a decent radio station and took pictures out of the window. However, when we finally got onto the smooth sailing of the toll road the rest of the drive south to Rivel was easy.
We pulled up in Rivel, a tiny but picturesque village and met up with Greca and Jamie, a lovely couple from London who we were renting our house from. They led us to a large 3 storey, white-shuttered house and gave us a tour. It was bloody massive. We couldn’t quite believe our luck; this place was just perfect and beautiful and we were made up. Quite a difference from our living situation back in the UK!
For our first few days in France we did a lot of eating, a lot of sitting out on our sunny roof terrace and drank way too much €2 wine. Why not, we’re in France! When we weren’t doing that we explored the local area, had beers by the lake and met some friendly dogs who were also roaming around the village. We also popped into the tap room a few times for a couple of pints and catch ups with Jayne, Paul and Graham from BDQ. So our first week in France started off pretty chill. We got our first bit of sunburn but we had a ball - apologies to those we drunk facetimed!
On Wednesday the tempo went up several notches as we got the kitchen ready for our menu testing that night. We got to the tap around 9am, after a quick trip to neighbouring village Chalabre to pick up some final ingredients – another chance to practice our French. However, because it was a bank holiday some of the things that had been ordered weren’t actually ready to be picked up. What had started as a Frenglish conversation with the friendly shopkeeper ended up involving about 7 other locals who wanted to help the new chef at brasserie - news travels too fast in villages I swear! We managed to come away with almost everything we needed and headed ten minutes up the road to the tap in Puivert.
After a morning of prep we headed outside to have some lunch in the sun. Keenan, forgetting that cars in France drive on the right, looked the wrong way and almost got run over. That would have been a very abrupt end to this little adventure. But he survived so here’s to the next 6 months of instagram spam from us. More prep and then the cook-off started. Kee served up: chips with stout mushroom ketchup & crispy onions; chicken saison broth with celery, asparagus & spring onions; slow cooked pork with haricot beans and green sauce and our signature roasted carrots with parkin, carrot top salsa and Tomme Des Pyrenees (a local cheese). All in all a successful trial run! But god were we knackered – holiday mode was well and truly over. We headed home for beers and the football; 3-0 Barcelona, not ideal.
On Thursday we were up early again and headed back out to Chalabre to pick up the final ingredients that we couldn’t get the day before. Then we were back on the road to pick up some extra bits for Friday’s launch; waiters notebooks, pens, a new brush, more Tupperware. Exciting stuff. To combat this boring shop we wandered into an intermarché and came out with nothing but sweets, chocolates, biscuits, cakes and beer. That was €30 that we definitely didn’t need to spend, especially since we said we would eat more healthily in France but the desire for snacks was just too great. Oh well. Healthy eating starts again next week. The rest of the day was spent making (and swearing at) pork pies. But they made it into the oven and came out looking pretty great. As usual they were well worth Keenan’s pie rage.
So after a lot of anticipation, excitement and a whole lot of nerves it's our launch day tomorrow! Wish us luck and we will update you next week to let you know how it goes!