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A meal worthy of my elegant dress sense

Published 24 May 2009
News Review
827th article



Michael with, from left, Natalie, Laurent, Marguerite and Patric Mario at Le Cheiron in Greolieres GERALDINE LYNTON-EDWARDS

I drove north of the Mediterranean behind Nice.

"You told us that the other week," I hear someone say. Shut up.

"The hills are alive with the sound of my convertible Mini/ A sound they have heard for a thousand years ..." "It doesn't even scan," you scream. Who cares? In fact they were so high they weren't hills, it was, "Climb every mountain/ Search high and low/ Follow every byway until you reach Le Cheiron in Gréolières."

"You're off your rocker, Winner," bemused readers mutter. Yeah, well, that's one of my few good points.

Le Cheiron is a family-run restaurant in a lovely medieval village. I chucked another log on the fire. A Frenchman at the adjacent table clapped quietly. Attractive walls of exposed stone, bright flowers on the tables. It's owned and run by Marguerite Mario and hubby, Patric. They previously had a restaurant in Nice. Daughter Natalie and son Laurent help out.

Marguerite serves wearing high-heels. Unusual that. Must be very agile. Most waitresses wear flat shoes.

Displayed behind the lavatory is a photo of a woman with an enormous bosom. Sadly, not another family member. She's advertising a bra called Aubade.

I ordered frog's legs and scallops. A roast duck went by left to right, looked incredible. The sauce with the scallops was so great I scooped the remains up with bread. My starter had the visual impact of a decapitated frog with legs sticking out the back. Tasted a bit like chicken.

The main course was lamb with gravy, jacket potato, mushrooms, broad beans, lots of vegetables. French lamb isn't as tasty as the lamb from my butcher, HG Walter. On the other hand the French take the sinews out of liver. HG doesn't, so it's inedible unless you de-sinew it yourself. I finished with historic lemon tart made from local lemons.

Geraldine told me off for wearing pyjamas. You sent 28 rude letters about that last week. "They're not pyjamas," I explained. "They're cotton trousers made for me by Turnbull & Asser. Prince Charles goes there. And you created them."

"Only to be worn in the house," explained Geraldine.

"Well, they've had more outings than Paris Hilton," I responded. Meal very good. Ambience superb. My pyjama bottoms elegant beyond belief. I wore them when I was with the prime minister recently. He invited me to a meal at Downing Street. More than he did for you.



  • I was offered two tables for lunch at the River Cafe. I chose one, Geraldine another.

    "There were children near your choice," she observed. My views on children in restaurants are known. Next to us came art gallery owner Tim Jeffries with recent wife and five-month-old baby girl, Coco. Beautiful in both behaviour and to look at. That's Coco and me. I knew it was too good to last.

    In the evening, at the National theatre's brilliant production of War Horse, behind me sat a woman with three children. She spent the whole first act telling them what was going on. Thus insulting actors, playwright and audience.

    At the interval I said politely, "I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop talking to your children during the play."

    "They're writing a review for The Times," was the smart-arse reply. "They asked me what was happening."

    In the bar the company manager, Charles Evans, offered us a drink.

    "No thanks," I said. "But try getting that awful woman behind me to stop yapping."

    "I saw you were having trouble," said Charles. "I'll talk to her."

    On the way back I asked, "How did you do?" "I'm not sure," replied Charles.

    "You're right, she's a monster," I observed. I don't know whether it was Charles, me, or our joint efforts, but the silly moo shut up during Act II. Unbelievable what I go through.



  • Bumped into Hymie Pockle, Moishe Pippick and Abe Schwonz at the washing powder area of Tesco the other day. Moishe was outraged at my story of how Selina Scott sued channel Five for ageism when they chose another candidate for a job she went up for. "What do you expect?" said Hymie. "She's a shicksa bimbo." Shicksa, in case you' ve forgotten, is a derogatory word Jews use to describe or any non-Jewess, particularly one their son is taking out.

    "Please, Hymie," I cautioned, "Madame Scott is very litigious. She could sue you."

    At that point Hymie, Moishe and Abe started dancing round the Tesco shelves singing, "Sue me, sue me, what can you do me?" from the musical Guys and Dolls. It was one of the most ghastly sights of all time. Teach me to gossip with deadbeats when I should be buying baked beans. o Took the current and best-ever manager of Sandy Lane, Robert Logan, to Le Caprice last week. I had griddled foie gras and fishcakes with extra sauce. A delight. The doughnuts were good, too. Much gossip about the hotel and what's going on. All confidential. I'll reveal everything. Eventually.



    Michael's missives

    You've done the nation a service by advising MPs they can buy 20 sandwiches at M& S for £10. Mr Speaker can now send a taxi (on expenses) to buy lunch for all of 'em for about £50. Then they can claim £50 each. Thus saving us a fortune from their usual Gordon Ramsay five-course.
    Tim Burton, Berkshire

    Why did you kiss Gordon but not Jacqui Smith? I assume she understandably spurned you. A girl does have her reputation to think of. Ian Lineker, Worcestershire Regarding your two kisses with Gordon Brown. I hope there were no tongues involved!
    Nic Peeling, Worcestershire

    I know it's often colder up north than down south, but wearing pyjamas is one thing, adorned in your duvet with the prime minister is another.
    Rochelle Lindsay, Leeds

    I went to Le Florian in Bouyon. Never had a better meal for such a low price. The Lorenzo family were a delight. Four other tables were occupied by your followers.
    David Arnold, Middlesex

    I agree with reader G Connolly. I took my mother to Claridge's. It was disgusting. The terrine seemed to have just left the fridge, it was watering on the plate! What has Gordon Ramsay done to this once wonderful restaurant?
    Stella Brown, Isle of Wight

    Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or e-mail michael.winner@sunday-times.co.uk