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June 02, 2013

SEADREAMING THROUGH ST TROPEZ – WINE NOT

 

David Ellis

with

Frank Linn

 

HE'S like some modern-day Pied Piper, except that it's not children he's leading through the town square, but adults – 60-something of us mesmerised by the promises of what he says lays ahead…

 

It's a Sunday morning and we're in St Tropez on the French Riviera, playground of jetsetters, millionaires, movie and catwalk hopefuls.  Where Brigitte Bardot was a pioneer of topless sunbathing on the local beach… and where she later shot to stardom in the 1956 movie And God Created Woman, leading a million men into premature-gibbering, and in more-severe cases, blindness.

 

But we're not heading to the beach. Our Pied Piper – in reality Tomasz Kozlowski, executive chef aboard the boutique mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II that's sailing 7-nights from Nice to Barcelona – is leading us to a little town square where he's organised a tasting of local Rosé wines, cheeses, nuts and olives, breads and biscuits, and what turns out to be a ripper traditional St Tropez onion tart.

 

A few days earlier we'd done a market tour with Chef Tomasz at another port, some 25 of SeaDream's  81 guests enjoying the spectacle of him gesticulating with traders over produce he's buying for that night's evening cocktail gathering, and giving us tastings of their local fruits and other market produce.

 

So popular was it, that today in St Tropez it's not 25 guests have decided to come along, but well over 60. And we're well-rewarded: after passing through what we think is just an alleyway of a few small food stores, we emerge into a picturesque village-like square.

 

And Tomasz leads our conga line to an open-fronted wine shop at which the owner has set up trestle tables to which others in the square have brought samples of their produce for us to try alongside his wines.

 

It's only just after 10 o'clock and there are fewer than a dozen local Tropeziens already out for Sunday shopping: they appear both bemused and delighted at the presence of our group from 14 nations who've crowded into their square, some enquiring as to where we are from, others asking our impressions of their town…

 

And the various traders who've brought their produce over for us to try, speak enthusiastically about their offerings. But it's Chef Tomasz who is the star: arms constantly flaying – "I talk with my hands!" he says – he describes in minute detail the food items we are tasting, and the Rosé wines that are made from not only grapes, but from peaches as well…

 

We're offered one, and wonder if at this early hour it's a good idea – but seeing our fellow guests getting stuck into theirs, and smacking their lips in satisfaction, we decide that it may be ten a.m. in St Tropez, but it's got to be already "wine o'clock" somewhere else in the world.

 

And our hosts don't skimp: glasses are filled and re-filled with the different Rosés, empty plates whisked away to be replenished with fresh offerings,… and while Chef Tomasz has said that our tasting will "be about an hour," we are there for nearly double that, relishing every moment, every mouthful.

 

And when we are told that all good things must reluctantly come to an end, we say fond thanks and sad farewells to our wonderful Tropezien hosts – while Tomasz and several of his staff whom he's brought from SeaDream II load up bags and boxes with all manner of the produce we've sampled… and which he'll feature in that night's regular pre-dinner Cocktails aboard SeaDream II.

 

On the way back to our mega-motor cruiser Chef Tomasz tells us how he's always loved food and cooking, learning much from his mother whom he idolised for her culinary skills, and which led him to go into cooking school as a teenager. After stints in shore-side restaurants after graduation, he worked on several large ships catering to 2000 to 3000 guests each, but quickly decided that that wasn't for him.

 

So he joined SeaDream Yacht Club in 2002 – and with a maximum of just 112-guests, is just as enthusiastic today as he was when he joined eleven years ago.

 

For information about sailing aboard the boutique SeaDream II and twin-sister SeaDream I, see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com

 

(Frank Linn was a guest of SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream II)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

 

[] CHEF Tomasz enthusiastically describes a local St Tropez rosé wine. (David Ellis)

[] OUT come the cheeses as well for SeaDream II's guests to taste. (David Ellis)

[] "I TALK with my hands!" Tomasz jokes. (David Ellis)

[] BRIGITTE Bardot in the 1956 film that shot her to stardom, And God Created Woman. (DrMacro.com)

[] THE French star was discovered on St Tropez beach when she was a pioneer of topless sunbathing. (DrMacro.com)

[] STILL doing her stuff, if more modestly in 1965. (Wikimedia)

[] SEADREAM II in Nice on her way to St Tropez. (John Treacy)


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