16 November 2010

A German Saturday

One of Rheiner's Jeeps

It was heading for another normal Saturday. I’d do a bit in the garden and then about midday, I’d have lunch and then sit down and watch the footie for the rest of the afternoon - but J had other ideas. “We’re off to Rheiner’s – he’s taking us up into the mountains in his jeeps.”

You may recall Rheiner – he’s the ‘partner’ of our friend Wendy and over the last few months we’ve become friends. When we went to his summer BBQ (http://tomsfrenchblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/red-barons-ball-it-wasnt-his-party.html )  he spent quite a bit of time with me showing me his fleet of German military jeeps and told me that he loved nothing more than getting in them and driving up into the mountains – which is exactly what we did on Saturday.

The convoy departed with Rheiner senior driving our jeep and Rheiner junior (his son) driving the second vehicle – both military green, open to the elements and built to withstand a war. And boy, these things were noisy. In the lanes around Tourettes, you could definitely hear them before you saw them.

The Village of Cipieres
Forty minutes later we were in the village of Cipieres, another of those tiny hamlets stuck on the side of a mountain and at 4,500ft, quite high up. With a population of only 350 people, it is small even by Provence standards and it seems that you only go to Cipieres for one thing – the German Restaurant!

It was a gorgeous day and we started off by having drinks outside in the town square before going inside where the menu had only one choice – Choucroute, which is a French version of dressed sauerkraut, dressed meaning that it is a plate piled high with meats, sausages and potatoes, and of course mountains of sauerkraut.

There were ten of us and when Margareta, the owner and chef, brought us a platter of choucroute, I thought it was quite a lot for ten people but that was just one of two platters which ended up on the table – these Germans have big appetites!

A Plate of Choucroute
It was quite delicious and very filling but despite everyone sitting back in their seats when the last sausage had disappeared, they all sat forward again when Margareta brought out a huge, communal bowl of chocolate mousse. Then it was coffees and a huge bottle of home made Myrtle liqueur which tasted more like cough medicine than an alcoholic drink.

Back in the jeeps we headed off down the mountain pausing at an almost impossible, rocky slope to try the jeep’s off-road capabilities. Maybe it was the steepness of the track or maybe it was four bodies full of choucroute but the Jeep just couldn’t manage it much to Rheiner’s disgust.

Not an afternoon I had planned but very enjoyable nonetheless.

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