Do I go?

Or not?

Do I go?

Or not?

After a very enjoyable breakfast, I sat on the canapé (to give it a try) in my room. It is as uncomfortable as it looks. I was researching on my phone about the information Maurice had given me, about Pêches de Vignes and Crème de Cassis and my ‘devil’s advocate’ had me tantalizingly close to where he wanted me: on the canapé with a bottle of crème de Cassis. But, bought in the local supermarket.

I pulled my socks up and decided to go to the source, a place that makes these liqueurs. This is, after all, supposed to be a working holiday. Not only to eat and drink but also to explore, discover and speak with suppliers.

Maurice, back at the restaurant, had quietly slipped me a good address for an excellent Crème de Cassis. The name is almost unpronounceable, ‘liquoristerie’ not far from Nuits Saint Georges, so about 40 km from the hotel. It was time to introduce the town to my Pink Lady. A brief “salut” to Arnaud and Hélène, and off I drove.

I passed Beaune and took the Route De Dijon northwards. The landscape was flat as a table, with vineyards to the left and right as far as my eyes could travel. Tiny villages with huge names and even bigger reputations.

OMG, I thought, exploring Burgundy in such detail must be exhausting. Travel slowly, see a lot, and eat and drink more than is humanly possible. It’s a difficult life! Imagine the holidays here. Poor me!

I arrived at my destination. The three signs confirmed that I was right there. But, a small place, nothing grand, a real understatement. A small, modestly handwritten sign on the fence proved that I was about to experience good quality.

I parked my Pink Lady in the courtyard and walked to what I thought could be the production building. Gingerly, I tiptoed to the door and poked my head around. I was in luck, two young ladies spotted me before I noticed them.

I put on my best big smile and said “Hello”.

“Bonjour,” one of them said.

“Am I disturbing you?” I asked.

“Not really, we are just filling some bottles here. Can we help you?”

“Well, yes, maybe…..I’m looking for some Crème de Cassis.”

“Well, we have plenty here. How many cartons would you like to take?” asked the other one, smiling.

Spurred on by their sense of humour, I said, “Well, that depends…”

“Really? On what?”

“Well, I am in the trade. I have a catering business in the south, near Perpignan.”

“Oh, well, we also have other products.”

“Liqueurs or fruit?”

“Fruit? It’s spring.”

Shall we sit down, and would you like to try some liqueurs, some jams, some coulis and some nectars?

“All? Now?” I asked.

“It’s time for a little break from work,“ said one of the sisters.

“I’m Elise” said one of them, “and this is my mother, Viviane.”

“And I’m Vicky, “Enchantée.”

“Let’s go to the salesroom.” said Elise, “I’ll lead the way.”

“Is that your car? It’s gorgeous.”

“You are not French, are you? asked Viviane.

“No, I’m actually from England, but I have lived in France for donkey’s years. It’s my home now.”

“Can I do my presentation in English?” asked Elise.

“Oohhh, I replied, you can, but I don’t know if my English is good enough any more.” I said, smiling.

“I can help with the translation, maybe.” said Viviane.

“We have two strengths of Crèmes de Cassis, 16% volume and 20% volume. The Black Currants are the Noir de Bourgogne variety and are locally grown. The yield is less than other varieties but the aroma in incomparable. The 16% vol is sweeter and the 20% vol is more concentrated and has more alcohol.”

Two glasses were placed in front of me, each containing a small amount of Cassis.

“You can drink it pure as a digestive, or, as you know, with wine or sparkling wine. Or, if you want, with red wine, a Communard.”

“That’s new.” I said. Minus points for Maurice, for not recommending this to me.

“And, if you have a sweet tooth, just add it to sorbets, fruit salads, etc or simply with a little water.”

“Delightful,” I replied, impatient to get on with the important stuff. “Can I try it with some red wine, please? That is new for me. What sort of red wine should I use?”

“It really depends. Here in Burgundy, we use a Pinot Noir. But elsewhere, a Beaujolais, a Bordeaux too. But they have to be on the light side. A heavy red wouldn’t work.”

Viviane poured some Crème de Cassis and then followed it with the red wine. It was 10.30 am, and I was going to drink myself silly. It’s a difficult life here. After my communard, Elise offered me a kir, the stronger Cassis and a dash of white wine. We ended up talking about everything and nothing.

I looked at my watch, goodness, it was lunchtime.

“Have you reserved a table for lunch somewhere?” Viviane asked.

“No.” I replied, “I thought there would be somewhere here in the village. Can you recommend somewhere?”

“Oh, sorry, there is no restaurant here in the village. There are few in the vicinity, but nothing here.”

Elise came to the rescue, “We ordered a takeaway because of our bottling. Why don’t you simply join us?”

“That’s very kind of you, but I don’t want to impose on your lunch.” I replied.

“Don’t be silly”, said Viviane, “you have had quite a Crème de Cassis tasting, so we can’t send you away with your lovely car, on an empty stomach. So, stay, and we will share the meal with you.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes, of course” both replied, speaking together.

It seemed they had done this before. It was normal in such agricultural communities to have a spare plate for emergencies. And I seemed to be an emergency. I was not going to put up any more resistance.

After what seemed like an age, I left after lunch, but not without placing a handsome order to be shipped to Brida and a bottle for my hosts in the hotel.

The two of them did mention the museum dedicated to Crème de Cassis over in Nuit Saint Georges. But I was not in the mood for such an atmosphere after such a pleasant, more natural encounter with my two new acquaintances.

Feeling fortified with an excellent meal, a few glasses of Cassis, not to mention the occasional glass of wine and a few espressos, I slowly made my way back to the hotel. My head was swimming with ideas, impressions, and thoughts for when I would get back home.

But home felt very, very, very, far away.

I stopped in the middle of nowhere and inhaled the fresh air, my eyes followed the budding vines as leaves were beginning to grow larger. I walked slowly and let my senses absorb the atmosphere, the visual feast of the beautiful landscape, the sound of nature with the birds singing, the wind rustling through the vines, the vignerons tending their vines and the smell of earth and of nature. Feeling invigorated again, I walked back to the Pink Lady and drove to the hotel. I was still feeling tipsy and the last thing I wanted to have to happen was for Arnaud and Hélène to see me a little floaty.

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