Sunday, September 19, 2010

New and useful phrases ...

How's this for a euphemism - from El Reg, of course - "furry front bottom". As in "Lindsay Lohan allegedly tried to smuggle bolivian marching powder into the country in her furry front bottom." Think about it, but please don't hit me, I didn't do it. These are the people who came up with "chesticles", so I suppose you can expect no better.

I see I forgot to mention that we of the street are plotting rebellion - or at least a sternly-worded letter to the council. The mairie has given planning permission for two (admittedly smallish) apartment blocks to be built in the street, and whilst we're not actually nimbys as such there are a few points that we think they might have overlooked in their rush to get their hands on the developer's cash. Like what are they going to do to ensure that we don't have 40 extra cars a day whipping up (and, illegally, down) the street every day, have they thought of all the kids that walk up every day on the road (for there are no footpaths, too narrow), and what in hell do they mean by planning to tear down and not replace the old drystone walls up at the top? So Saturday afternoon we had a little meeting amongst ourselves - much to my surprise with no alcoholic lubrication, and no faffling about. I doubt much will come of it, but at least we'll have had a go.

Finally got around to ordering a new laptop: the old Inspiron is still going strong but is definitely a bit crufty these days, and on top of it the battery gave up on me the other day, so I thought it was about time to bite the bullet. So I managed to find another Dell, with a 17" screen and a decent CPU for €600 all up, which isn't too bad at all. Once I've got everything transferred over and I'm sure that it all works, I'll nuke the old one from orbit and hand it over to Malyon to use as a doorstop or whatever. What did surprise me a bit was the route the new one took to get to me (thanks, UPS tracking services). Left Shanghai, transited by Incheon, then Almaty (yes, that's the capital of Kazakhstan), Warsaw, Köln, Lyon, Annecy and finally here. It'd make a great collection of stamps in your passport. (Having now actually held the thing in my hands, I'd like to point out that it's frikkin' enormous. That 17" screen has to go somewhere.)

Much to my dismay the microwave chose last night (and five months out of guarantee, bloody typical) to give up the ghost. The really annoying thing is that the convection and grill and all still work: just the magnetron's dead and that, of course, is what we use the most. (Not entirely true. the really annoying part was that I wanted to reheat my dinner in it. And I'll thank you to refrain from bad jokes about how that particular prospect caused it to commit suicide ...) But it will piss me off me intensely to chuck it, as it's perfectly functional provided you don't want to reheat a cup of coffee in a hurry. Perhaps I should go get a quote for fixing it - but something tells me it'll be way over the magic 30% threshold  at which you replace rather than repair.

And on top of that, woke up this morning to find it grey, dismal and damp. Not cold, not yet (yay!) but definitely autumn. Leaves are starting to turn gold and drop off: can't even lie in the hammock anymore for fear of suffocating under a heap of the things. A great shame.

Weather which, sadly, finished by putting paid to our picnic. Saturday dawned a bit cloudy, but who cares about a bit of cloud ... then it started to close in and by 11:30 it was, quite frankly, pissing down. And not even I am ready to picnic in that sort of weather. So we ate inside instead, which is not at all the same thing, but needs must ... still, I can tell you that a decent Côtes du Rhône is quite capable of standing up to lemon-marinated chicken.

And although I say so myself, the little tarte aux peches de vigne wasn't half bad either. And the left-over croquettes de porc from Friday night that I took along, knowing full well that Jeremy wouldn't eat them (for some strange reason he doesn't really like them, and on top of that he cordially detests reheated stuff) disappeared in the twinkling of an eye. On the other hand, I should definitely have made more sauce to go with them. It's nothing short of amazing just how much sauce an 18-year old with a wodge of baguette can mop up. Never ceases to surprise me, anyway.

Thanks, by the way, to Julianne for pointing out to me the existence of the Scoop article on the Christchurch Reconstruction And Abrogation of Parliamentary Democracy Omnibus Bill. Nice to see that even if your elected representatives can push through a complete dog's breakfast like that, unanimously (if I got that correctly) and with little or no discussion, you are still - for the time being at least - allowed to take the piss. Anyone else remember that quaint old film, "Sleeping Dogs"?

Whatever, I can hardly criticize: we've chosen to live in an ungovernable country (according to de Gaulle, anyway: something to do with having more cheeses than days in the year) currently reigned presided over by an out-of-touch, hyper-sensitive paranoid dwarf.

So as it dawned bright and sunny I thought I'd go and do something typically French (no, not rioting or demonstrating, no-one does that on a weekend for the simple reasons that no-one else would notice and anyway you wouldn't get paid for it) and go for a Sunday walk. With camera. Hence the photos, just making the point that even if I complain occasionally, the weather's still not too bad. So what's one rained-out picnic?

And in any case, out of sheer spite we decided to have dinner last night, instead. Finding that I still had some phyllo in the fridge I decided to get sort of creative and made some little pastry packets (they'd be called aumonières or mendiants over here, after the little alms-giving purses they're supposed to resemble) stuffed with a round of goat's cheese and - in a stroke of genius - half a date.

Another thing that I have discovered can be done with phyllo is to place three or four layers (suitably cut to size, of course) atop small tartlet moulds  and bake them blind for ten minutes or so, until they go golden and crispy, after which you can press them into service as bowls for serving - let's say - petis pois à la française.

Which go quite well with a pâte feuilleté au saumon (which is kind of like a coulibiac, but a damn sight quicker to prepare and does not involve hunting down dried sturgeon marrow), just as well really as I didn't have enough lettuce to make salad for three. Especially given the vast quantities of the stuff Sophie will put away given a chance.

They still haven't started the vendange around here - god alone knows what they're waiting for - but on the bright side the vines are still covered in great clusters of grapes. So I wandered down the road a bit as dusk (the French say crepuscule. Always sounded like a skin disease to me) fell, trying not to look too conspicuous with scissors poking out of my hip pocket and a bright yellow plastic bag in one hand, to see if I couldn't find some muscat and a bit of chasselas.

Alright, had I headed home with three barrels of grapes I can see that someone might have had a right to be upset, but four measly bunches is hardly going to make a difference. And a tarte frangipane aux raisins is just so bloody delicious, it would've been criminal not to have made it.

And that was the week that was. So what's it like on the other side?

1 comment:

  1. All very well - but where are the actual bluddy recipes then??? Some of us would like to try these things once we've stopped drooling at the descriptions/photos thereof!