Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where's me fockin' haggis, man ...

Well, that really was rather a good barbecue, even if I do say so myself (with all the modesty for which I'm so well-known). About fifty of us, counting kids, and at the end of the day, no losses that we could spot. Exceptionally, people started turning up more or less at the hour we'd specified - damn all those punctual Anglo-Saxons! - when I'd just got the barbecue going, so we were more or less condemned to drink and nibble on goat cheese and tomato bruschetta for an hour or so before settling down to some rather serious eating.

As usual around here it was a fairly heterogeneous lot: the usual mix of French-only and bi-lingual folks. A surprising number of the kids were chatting away in English, so we must be doing something right. Although a couple of the bystanding adults were a teensy bit surprised, to judge by the way wine was spurting from their nostrils.

Monumental heaps of salads, steaming mounds of merguez, chicken parts and pork chops ... if anyone actually went hungry it was only because they really wanted to. And I'm absolutely certain that no-one died of thirst. Especially after Stéphane authorised the littlies (and not so littlies) to have a water fight.

Whatever, it was a beautiful day, and a good time was, as they say, had by all. Those that were actually awake, that is - there was an awful lot of Olympic-class napping going on. Enough, in fact, that you could be forgiven for thinking that we were spectators at a cricket match. Which, come to think of it, is not such a bad idea: maybe next year we'll organise the 2011 Traditional End-of-Year Barbecue and Cricket Match. Played, evidently, to PNCC Rules, which  - from memory - mainly involve the circumstances in which a player may be obliged to get up off his or her chilly bin.

The less resilient guests started to drift away about 20:00, but we didn't manage to get rid of the last torpid stragglers until after midnight. And to my eternal surprise, we were left with only four chipolatas and half a smoked chicken on our hands, which is much better than it could have been. (I'm not counting the salads, of which there were gallons. Don't know why, either people make far too much salad or there's something about  a barbecue that turns otherwise normal persons into carnivores who sneer at greenery. Or perhaps the phenomenon of miraculous multiplication is especially active around tabbouleh and rice salad. Haven't yet worked that one out.)

I'm ashamed to confess that I got rather lamentably cut - something to do with the way people kept filling up my glass, given that I myself didn't really have the time to occupy myself with such minor details, what with scooping bucketsfull of chipolatas and things onto the grill and then trying to turn them so as to brown but not burn without removing all the hair on my body ... not an easy job, especially when generously lubricated. And in any case, I was not the only one - not that I'm going to point the finger of shame or anything.

And I managed to pick up Malyon from Geneva on Tuesday. Not that it's any great problem getting there, and as she'd actually taken the trouble to send me a mail the day before to remind me that it needed doing there was no actual organisational problem either. Of course she'd come with only hand baggage so as there was no way they could make her wait for hours around the baggage carousel they decided to delay disembarkment by half an hour or so. Bloody typical.

Then, of course, we found out that an articulated lorry had jack-knifed on the voie rapide at Chambery so that was down to one lane, and after getting off that so as to arrive home at a reasonable hour we discovered that everyone else had had the same bright idea. Quel bummer, Bruce. Still, at least we made it - eventually - in time for her to hook up with friends and organise the train down to Grenoble to spend quality time with them. You know you've done your parenting properly when the first thing your children do on their (rare) visits is to go somewhere else. (Actually, the very first things they do are eat and sleep, not necessarily in that order. Then they bugger off.)

The eating part is understandable. Mal has explained that none of her Scots friends seem to actually like food. It's a bit like petrol really, you put it in the car because if not the car will not in fact be much bloody use, but you don't bother putting truffle shavings with it or try to make it look appetising. So, she said, she has a hard time trying to explain a) that food is a glorious, sometimes many-splendoured thing which is to be enjoyed for itself, and b) why we tend to invite people over for a meal rather than out to go clubbing. OK, I can understand that the idea of the barbecue is totally alien to the Scottish zeitgeist (I mean, who wants to stand around in a light drizzle burning chunks of meat over smoking peat), but that's hardly a reason to basically dismiss civilisation out of hand. Whatever, when she comes over she sort of dives into the smelly cheeses and will do tricks for a decent curry.

(Just as a matter of interest, did you realise that I actually had to go and edit the HTML to do the underlined text up there? Something to do with it's being rarely used, 'cos easily mistaken for a hyperlink or some such lame excuse. Does that interest you? Doubtless not. And another thing - sometimes, for its own inscrutable reasons, the text edit box will double my line breaks. And I can't stop it. And placing photos can be a bit of  a hit or miss affair too. Perhaps I should learn HTML.)

Where was I? Oh yes, getting rid of Mal. We also get rid of Jerry on Sunday: he starts his month-long stage in the kitchens of a hotel-restaurant in Aix-Les-Bains. As it's cooking, he'll be much pleased. They had a big meeting at the lycée today to talk about this, and about the choice of specialité (choice of cuisine or service) for the next two years - typically enough, what needed to be said could have been said in ten minutes, which is probably why the meeting dragged on for an hour.

I suppose it's something to do with the economic climate, but more and more people seem to be spending their holidays at home these days. Or if not exactly "at home", then driving around annoying right-minded people in their own country. I know this because just about every day I take the D1006 (which used to be the N6, until the state decided it didn't want to pay for the maintenance any more and handed it over to the département to look after) from Saint-Pierre to Montmelian where, like any other normal person, I take the autoroute. Whatever, there's a car or two ahead of me, we're all doing a comfortable 95 kph and then, about a km ahead, there's a side road off to the right. There is no-one on the side road, and even if there were, they have a "Give Way" sign. (Which does work, even in France.) So, the people ahead, cunningly waiting until I cannot overtake, slow down. To about 70. Why? I can only assume that they are looking at the side road, that it is interesting. Which I suppose it might be, to keen (and slightly retarded) students of tarmac. But for gods sake, it's not as though some coke-fuelled maniac in a Maserati is going to burst out of it at 160 and prang into your frikkin' Twingo. So why do they go out of their way to annoy me?

As a parting shot, may I direct your attention to this article? The first paragraph says it all, really -

"In a development whose importance it would be difficult to exaggerate, scientists have produced research answering one of the great questions facing humanity in the 21st century: what happens if you get snails hopped up on crystal meth and poke them with sticks?"

Thank you for your time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Diet Of Crow ...

Or if I'm not actually sitting down to a hearty meal of cooked corvidae, I'm at least contemplating munching on some sparrow tailfeathers ...

And all this because, to my surprise, Margo's sparkly little red Samsung arrived yesterday and despite rebooting itself about 73 times during the two hours or so it took to go through the Windows initialisation process and the installation of the Samsung crudware (which disappeared rather rapidly once I could get my hands on the keyboard), it all went swimmingly and - gasp - in English! Yes folks, the install package was the full multi-lingual one.

So I nuked MS Office Home & Student, the McAfee nagware, the gormless games and other such crap, downloaded AVG and Open Office and Firefox and set all that up - gotta set up her email accounts and such but that can wait until tonight. Then there'll be all her files to transfer over from the ancient Compaq that serves as her desktop machine, and then it can go back to being a boat anchor. (Unless you know of anyone that actually wants a '98-vintage Compaq Deskpro, fully kitted out with 512Mb of RAM and a - gasp - Celeron PIII clocked at 500MHz. If they're willing to pay postage I'll chuck in the power cord and a licensed copy of Windows 3.1 for free.)

And before you ask, I've decided against installing Linux on the Samsung, at least for now.  For one thing I'm not sure that Margo will let me play with it, because it's shiny and it's HERS, and she won't take off the plastic film on the lid for fear of scratches spontaneously appearing. (A bit like the evil bacteria that lurk in fridges, waiting for the use-by date on the yoghurt to come up so that they can turn it green and slimy overnight. Which might, now that I come to think of it, be an improvement in some cases.) For another, Windows 7 doesn't seem as bad as I'd feared - not bad enough, at least, to make me really itch to get rid of it - and if Margo can get used to it I'm not going out of my way to look for extra things to do just to keep me occupied. Sorry if that disappoints you, but I'm just not that masochistic.

I was, on the other hand, sufficiently so to head down to the garden on Tuesday night and give it a short back and sides. Despite their usual track record the met offices' assurances that it would get finer over the week, promise really we mean it this time, turned out to be true so I thought I'd better get the grass a bit below thigh-high before the barbecue on Sunday. Don't want to lose too many kids, some of them have loving parents.

Lunch with Sophie again on Saturday, and this time we'd decided we wanted something really simple involving absolutely no slaving over anything in the kitchen. At which point she had an absolutely brilliant idea. Ever had really fresh sardines, with just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, dusted with gros sel and thyme and then grilled on the barbecue? If you have I probably don't have to wax all lyrical about it, but if not you really ought to rush out and try it. Because it is, quite simply, bloody marvellous.

Of course, the little buggers are full of bones, but they're so fine all you really have to worry about is whipping out the backbone and slinging it at the cat or something. And the other advantage is that they're small enough that you can easily eat at least three, which suits me just fine.

And naturally enough, they're much better accompanied by a nicely chilled-out rosé. Now back in the day, unless you were willing to pay vast sums of money for a Tavel, you'd probably have had to go for a cabernet d'Anjou or a Touraine. Or if you liked gargling low-grade industrial alcohol, you could have got ratshit Provençal rosé, which had the advantage of being cheaper than water and you could also use it to clean the floors.

Which, after a party spent guzzling the stuff, you would probably have to do. For a long time I did not drink rosé, because I personally find the Anjou stuff too sweet and there's no way I'm going to swill drain-cleaner: there are some things even I won't stoop to. Unless, of course, there's absolutely nothing else to drink except pastis. (Which, personally, I wouldn't even use to clean floors. Too much risk of removing the top layer of cement.)

Fortunately, things have changed a lot in the years we've been here: the Anjou wines are still too sweet, but the Côte du Rhône wines, which used to be a synonym for something concocted in a cement vat by someone who was more at home behind a cow, have undergone a complete transformation and now represent, in my admittedly humble opinion, some of the best value for money you'll come across in French wine. Which is rather a lengthy parenthetical aside, the point of which is simply that my favourite rosé is a beautifully dry Costières de Nîmes at all of 2.50€ the bottle. A bit more expensive than water, but not much.

That's all very well, but I was kind of forgetting that you're currently enjoying winter, aren't you? Such a shame. You may want to try this another time - say, in about six months. You really, really should.

And while we're on the subject of fish, aren't these beautiful? Rouget-barbet, which have the advantage of having no gall bladder and therefore require none of the messy business of gutting and cleaning. Which makes them a great pleasure to work with. And they taste good.

Anyway, people are going to start arriving soon so I suppose I'd better go get my glad rags on and open a few bottles. Or probably rather more than a few. I just need to fling a match onto the barbecue, there are vast quantities of meat in a chilly bin sitting in the stream (I just hope like hell it doesn't float away down to the Isère, I'd look a right prat if it did), Jerry's done his manly duty and washed down the garden furniture ... I think we're all ready. I just hope we don't wind up living on left-overs for the next week or so.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why the correct filing of food is essential ...

Well, by the time I get around to posting this Margo should be well on her way to being the owner of the first certifiably new computer she's ever had. Yep, I've just ordered her a spanking new Samsung N150 netbook, in bright red (if that interests anyone). What she wants is a little computer that she can take with her to shows and salons and such-like, and it should fit the bill quite nicely. Enough grunt to do what she wants, and small enough to shove in her handbag (I admit, she has a large handbag) and go with it. I will, of course, have to spend some time setting the little sod up: it comes with Windows 7 starter - in Frog, yet - which is apparently a complete and utter pile of dog turds, so that'll have to go. So I shall have to install some Linux distro or another on it - luckily there's any number of how-to guides on the intartoobs on how to do that - and set up OpenOffice so it's fit for purpose, but I think I should be able to handle that. Apparently the Ubuntu remix Just Works, out of the box - I hope that I'll be pleasantly surprised and find out that that turns out to be the case. Stranger things have happened at sea.

A fairly typical month of May so far: the weather's absolutely foul. Starts out fine in the morning and then turns to thunder and rain around midday, and doesn't let up after that. It's only been four days so far, but I'm still getting exceedingly bored with it. Supposed to continue until the middle of next week too, which fails to thrill me. At least things are supposed to get better around the 20th, which'd be really good as we're planning our big Spring BBQ for the 23rd - bring bottle and bird. If any of you happen to be in the vicinity, feel free to turn up; there'll probably definitely be more than enough booze so just bring bird and whatever meat you feel like eating, and I'll char it for you.

We get Malyon back for a week at the end of the month: she finishes her exams on Monday, makes whoopee and then comes over, cunningly arriving two days too late for the barbecue. Them's the breaks when you look for the cheapest flights, I suppose: maybe I should stick a pork chop in the fridge for her. Whatever, it'll be rather good to see her. (Thank heavens for Skype - if it didn't exist I suppose someone would have to invent it. Makes it so much easier to have hour-long chats with the family diaspora. Although Margo does have the habit of holding the webcam upside-down to bring the mike to her mouth, which I imagine must make it sound pretty funny at the other end. Perhaps Mal has her speakers the wrong way up.)

Today being Thursday it's a public holiday in this here resolutely secular republic: Ascension. And being a Thursday, world+dog will be taking Friday off too, which means a four-day weekend, which means that half the country will be on the road, trying to find somewhere it's not raining. Personally I'm trying to think of things to do instead of some of the work I really should be doing, elevating procrastination to an art form. Been pretty successful so far.

It was even fine enough to incite me to drag the camera out and go for a wander up in the hills behind us. (Well, it wasn't actually foul enough to make the joys of coding and testing SQL stored procedures seem preferable.) I always take the camera with me on such occasions, ever since one time years ago when, about an hour from the house, I came across a pair of salamanders being beastly in the path in front of me. At the time I could probably have gotten away with taking a photo without risking being put inside for possession of lizard porn.

And by the time I got home from that, it was getting on time to think about getting dinner ready, which brings me, in an albeit roundabout manner, to why it is so vitally important to label those otherwise anonymous ice-cream containers of leftovers before sticking them in the freezer to await the day of judgement and the resurrection of the flesh, and also why stumbling around bleary-eyed and bare-footed in the kitchen at some ungodly hour of the morning before having borged the first coffee of the day is perhaps not the best of times to go hunting for something to turn into dinner. For not only does Jeremy, literal-minded lad that he is,  take the ice-cream containers to be full of ice-cream (and consequently, when he finishes the last tub of real ice-cream it doesn't go on the shopping list and we have leftover frozen curry for dessert), but when Mr. Brain is not yet fully-awake just about any leftover looks like bolognaise sauce, at which point your choice for the menu du soir becomes pretty self-evident ie lasagna.

As a result of neglecting these two elementary precautions, we're going to find out what cassoulet lasagna tastes like. I suspect it'll be ... interesting. On the bright side, the dog has no taste buds and will eat anything that's left (despite a tendency to fish out the bits of carrot, and she doesn't like rice) and the most complicated part is making the cheese sauce. Helps if Jerry hasn't finished all the grated cheese, of course.

Another important food hint: don't eat raw slugs. If you do, and happen to be Australian (or are eating raw Australian slugs) you could, apparently, catch rat lungworm disease. If, that is, your slug has been eating rat shit; and of course, that's the sort of question one so often forgets to ask of one's meal before sitting down to a snack. So, children, always either cook or interrogate your slugs before eating them. I'm not an expert on invertebrates, still less on gastropodia, but I'd suggest perhaps a well-seasoned fricassée, served in puff pastry shells  - but then again, if you're the sort of person who eats slugs you probably neither want nor need my advice. Come to that, you may well feel - with some justification - that someone who mixes cassoulet and pasta is hardly qualified to give lessons. Whatever, just saying.

That's all rather disgusting, so I'm off to watch Bones. And should ever a BBC series called "Luther" come your way, do watch it. Not that you'll die if you don't or anything so drastic, but you would regret it. Well, technically, if you didn't watch it you wouldn't regret not having done so, or vice versa, but you get my drift.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh the pitiful screams ...

... "of all them college educated women", as Frank Zappa sang in "The Illinois Enema Bandit". Of which I was reminded today as I bent over and applied vaseline in preparation for a phone call from the SNCF purchasing office, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to screw people for as much money as possible. For some strange reason it's always them who expect me to "make an effort" and lower my price (and trousers), rather than their making an effort and smiling broadly as they pay me more than I asked.

And just to put me in the right mood, it's been persisting down all day - in fact, since Sunday. And chilly enough that the big wood-burner in the kitchen is happily purring to itself as we periodically stick a log in its gaping maw. (Advantage is that I don't have to turn on the enormous oven just to roast a half-shoulder of lamb for the two of us, of course. Plus it keeps the kitchen and living room warm, the kitchen perhaps a bit too warm, to tell the truth.)

In other news, the morille season has opened. Yep, those lovely little tumescent black mushrooms are poking their heads through the leaf-mould again - or so Jacques assures me. I shall have to find time one weekend Real Soon Now to head up and see him, and go a-hunting. Preferably when it's not raining, because wandering through a forest on steep muddy slopes with rain pouring down the back of my neck is not my idea of fun.

And of course, the Poms are getting all sorts of existential angst or whatever over the concept of a hung parliament. Fair enough I suppose, it's been 40 years since they last had one, but it'd be really nice if they could just get over it and just carry on living. Insofar as you can in a country with a climate like the armpit of one of Jeremy's shirts.

Whipped through the market, as is my wont (V-E Day notwithstanding) and to my great pleasure found one of the stalls hocking off 200gm bottes d'asperges at 2€ for three. I have mentioned that Jeremy has decided he likes the stuff? I bought three. Like that, there was one bunch for Sophie and I for lunch, to go with the daurade royale I picked up at Carrefour. (According to my Larousse Dictionary Of All Food In The Known Universe, daurade is better known as sea bream. Which is no great help to me: I don't know what sea bream is either.)

Whatever, it turned out sort of fine - what the Swiss would call "beau temps mitigé" (which passes for a sidesplitting joke there, basically means rain with occasional periods where it's not actually raining as such and maybe the sun comes out between downpours; for some reason the Swiss find this hilarious) so we actually managed to have a civilised drink outside on the terrace, in between hailstorms. Hence the wineglasses, nuzzling up to one another. As they do. Guess which one's mine.*

Then I whipped out this frikkin' great fish and wondered what to do with it, and finally decided to flour it, brown it in a pan and then stick it in the oven with herbs stuck up its bum and white wine sloshed over it so it could regret the errors of its youth for a while. Then get some butter foaming in the pan, add lemon juice and chopped parsley, pour the lot over the fish ... not one of the worst ideas I've ever had.

Rather to my dismay, Lucas and Rémi have also decided that asparagus is A Good Thing. Bit of a bummer, really, but on the bright side, there are no leftovers. And I've rarely seen a fish picked so clean.

Meanwhile, down in the garden, the grass is growing apace, the trees are all covered in leaves, the lilac's flowered and fairly soon it'll smell like a cheap tart's bedroom as the acacia bursts into flower. Not that I know, personally, what a cheap tart's bedroom smells like, but it's definitely what comes to mind when confronted with acacia blossom. If you've got a better simile, let me know.

* Mine's the full one. Always seems to empty itself, have to keep filling it up. Besides, Sophie finished the white.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

This can't be right ...

Something must be seriously wrong, but I can't actually put my finger on it - we've had five or six straight days of absolutely glorious weather, getting up to 26° in the afternoon, and it hasn't actually rained on any of my barbecues. This is pretty unnatural, and I'd be steeling myself for the worst were it not for the fact that it's so nice I just can't be arsed worrying. Apart, that is, from concerns about the way the bottles of rosé in the fridge downstairs keep disappearing. We're just hoping it keeps up until the end of the weekend. (The weather, you fools, not the disappearing rosé.)

Speaking of weekends, the next two are right bummers: the 1st and the 8th of May, both public holidays over here in our little bit of Ole Yurrup, fall on Saturdays. With all the concomitant problems of supermarkets being closed, market not taking place and stuff like that, and on top of it we don't even get a long weekend out of it. There was talk at one time of passing a law to the effect that both days would always fall on either a Tuesday or a Thursday (as the intervening day would, by tradition, be considered a holiday as well - it's called "le pont") but it seems to have fallen by the wayside, sacrificed in the relentless rush to globalisation and increased productivity. That's what you get for electing a workaholic dwarf Hungarian as president.

Which reminds me that the little chap was in our neck of the woods a week or so ago, for the 150th anniversary of the absorption of the Duchy of Savoie by France. (Only it's called "la rattachement", which sounds nicer.) I wouldn't have noticed myself, had it not been for all the major roads being blocked, clumps of CRS goons lurking behind every thicket or spinney, and Mirage jets buzzing around the place as though aviation fuel was still at $10 the barrel.

Oh, and we had the flap about that unpronounceable bloody Swedish volcano spewing crap into the atmosphere - bit of a non-event really except for the Parisians, who got a week's respite from the planes heading in and out from Orly and Roissy. We didn't even get any particularly spectacular sunsets, which'd be the only good reason I can think of for such events occurring.

Well, Friday's rolled around, as it does, and true to form it's started to rain. I'd been thinking idly about a barbecue for tomorrow's lunch, looks like that will have to go by the board. And we might not be having Jocelyn's surprise birthday party outside tomorrow night, either. (You know Jocelyn. Our New York Jewish lawyer friend. Apparently even they have birthdays.)

We were privileged to have Jerry with us for a night this week: got a call from the lycée to say that he was sick and could I please come and remove him from the premises. Arrived to find him with eyes like watery fried eggs and a dripping nose: he really does suffer from hay fever, poor lad. (Like his mother - Margo doesn't dare go down to the paddock at this time of year. It's bad enough, apparently, up at the house.) So he wasn't particularly sociable, but it did give us a chance to observe just how much coffee he's capable of slurping during 24 hours. (Which reminds me that it's always a good idea to put the coffee-pot back in the coffee machine before turning it on. I neglected this simple precaution the other night, and when I came down the next morning for a nice fresh cup, I found it was mainly on the floor. Which kind of screwed up my morning, as I usually spend twenty minutes or so trying to kick-start the metabolism with caffeine rather than mopping floors and benches.)

Saturday now, Labour Day and of course all the supermarkets are closed. The market, luckily enough, was still open for business and consequently even more jammed than usual, despite the rain. Which did, on the other hand seem to rather dampen the spirits of all the kids standing disconsolately around, trying to earn a bit of pocket money on the side by flogging off bunches of muguet. (By long-standing tradition, world + dog may go off and cull lily of the valley wherever they find it, although I'd be a bit dubious about invading someone's garden to get the stuff, then sell it without getting a permit or reserving a place or declaring any income.)

Whatever, being a public holiday all the car parks are free (that's "free" as in "non-paying", not "available". There in fact very few that are available, because everyone has decided to take advantage of the fact that they're free. If you see what I mean.) so rather than whipping through the place like a dose of salts as is my wont I went around at a more leisurely pace, pausing occasionally to smile benignly at small children. Unfortunately it's that time of year when the clementines have finished and it's too early for the summer stone fruit, so we're reduced to apples, pears and bloody bananas, with the occasional strawberry or loquat for variety. Still, mustn't complain, at least the tomatoes are starting to taste like they're supposed to, there are snow peas and asparagus around, and I managed to pick up some Sarde cheese to age in the cellar. (That's an extremely palatable - and much cheaper - alternative to parmesan. I like parmesan, but I do not like paying 24 €/kg for the stuff.)

Then for some strange reason I wound up in a bar on the place du Palais de Justice, sipping a glass of white with Brian and watching the rain piss down on the crowds milling around. (And getting the odd cold drip down the back of my neck from the puddles on the awning overhead, but that's another matter.)

Anyway, this is what chicken looks like when it's gone to heaven. Yeah, I know, yet another Saturday lunch with Sophie. But this is so easy you really should try it - unless of course you're allergic to lemon juice - or rosemary - or chicken, come to that. Take one chicken leg per person (or two per adolescent) and brown them slowly in a decent not-no-stick frying pan in a bit of olive oil - this should take about 15 minutes to get them golden all over. About half-way through that time, fling in a chopped onion and a couple of chopped garlic cloves. If they start to burn, the heat's up too high.

During these 15 minutes, open a bottle of white and make sure it's fit for purpose. You will not need a great deal for the sauce, so feel free to double-check. I used a vin moelleux de pays Landais, which  has a bit of sugar in it after fermentation but still pleasantly acidic and with oodles of fruit: I rather doubt you'll be able to find that so you may have to make do with a chardonnay. Sprinkle the chicken with a tbsp of chopped rosemary, a bit of pepper and a half-glass of the wine; scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get the browned caramelised sucs dissolved into the sauce (this is why you don't want to use a non-stick pan) and let the wine boil off,  then turn the heat down really low and add the juice of 1 lemon. (As quantities go, that's pretty ratshit, I know. What size lemon? How juicy? About 5cl, I reckon.) Then - and this is the good part - you cover it and forget about it! For about 45 minutes. You might have to add a bit of water from time to time, and maybe turn the pieces over once or twice, but otherwise it'll look after itself.

At the end of this time, take the lid off and add the juice of another lemon and maybe some more rosemary - quantity depending on how much you like it. You could add some cayenne as well, if that takes your fancy. Once that's reduced a bit add 10cl of cream and stir it in until it all starts to thicken a bit (should not curdle, if it does you've done it wrong), at which point serving it would be a good idea.

I'm unimaginative, and Sophie was a rabbit in a previous incarnation, so we had it with salad and bread, but sitting in all its glory atop a bed of buttered tagliatelle would also be a fitting end. (It seems, by the way,  that this is an Italian dish. I cannot myself vouch for this, but it is kind of delicious.)