Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting For The Doctor ...

Woke up this morning to find yet more snow drifting down and the paddock all covered in white stuff: humbug. This means a complete and utter bordel at Chambery, as for one thing the buses take the first opportunity they can to stop running, and for another there are cars in all sorts of unlikely places as they've slid more or less gently across the road to wind up in a ditch or on the pavement.

This is not alleviated by the municipality's being seemingly reluctant to risk their shiny snow-ploughs in such dangerous conditions ...

Funny how Malyon and Jeremy seem to regress when they're back together. First off, for some strange reason they speak in French together, god knows why. It all starts out fine, nattering away in English, and then when there are finer points to be discussed, such as how she really wants to remove both his eyeballs with a blunt spoon, it morphs into Frog.

I suppose there are some things better said in that language. Mind you, she does the same with her Parisian cousins, so I suppose we shouldn't take it personally.

Whatever, I made clafouti for dessert. Two clafoutis in fact, one with cherries as God and the Auvergnats intended, and one with apricots, as the Bimler family prefers. You really would think that two of the suckers, for four, would be enough to ensure some left-overs, wouldn't you? Wrong, I'm afraid. Jerry needed a midnight feast, Malyon didn't want to miss out ...

So anyway, Friday was a lovely day, bright and sunny, and I had really high hopes, honestly ... so of course on Saturday it started pissing down, and as Mal and I went round the market the best thing I can say was that it wasn't actually sleeting on us. But it was cold, and wet, and dismal: which made a quick trip to the warmth of Le Refuge kind of attractive.

Unfortunately the execrable Pierre seems to have read Beckham's rough drafts because he appeared to have no desire to either sleep with, nor offer free wine, to anyone younger than his rather shoddy boots: a population which appears to include both Mal and I. Damn.

And Beckham was up in Paris, which meant that she couldn't even bat her eyelashes at him (yeah, I know, there's probably an app for that if you have the right sort of phone, but apparently I don't) and melt a little spot in his flinty bartender heart. Assuming him to have one, of course. (Of course he has a heart. Pickled, in a jar on a shelf behind the bar.)

But things got better eventually - as they tend to, after a glass or two - and as we headed off to Geneva to pick up Tony the sky started to clear ... of course there was a mad jam at the airport, but being Swiss everyone was respecting the five-minute pickup rule so we blithely swiped a parking space and waited until les douanes decided that a sporran was probably not an offensive weapon.

So what with the whisky Saturday evening just seemed to drift away and to hell with the rain - and I have to say that this Christmas day was one of the most beautiful I can remember. Marred only by a hard frost, but that had vanished by the time I got around to dragging the barbecue out from its lurking-place in the cellar and chopping a bit of wood.

Yeah, I butterflied the leg of lamb and that went on the barbecue (I really do think that'll be the last of the year, mind you) whilst the potatoes crisped in the duck fat in the oven and the ratatouille simmered and the pita bread warmed up before getting chopped tomato and mint and goat cheese ladled all over: luckily, for we were kind of hungry by this time, our mad friend Karen had brought nibbles.

This being France, this often - and in our specific case, definitely - means a pain surprise, which is an enormous loaf of bread cut open, the mie removed and turned into sandwiches, which are then stuffed back inside and the lid put back on. Quality is variable, and to my mind it still doesn't beat a decent mess of club sandwiches, but we're slowly educating the poor things.

Now Karen also does a pretty mean caviar dip, which is just philly cream cheese beaten up with sour cream and chopped hard-boiled eggs and lump-fish roe and had also, in a fit of doubtless misguided enthusiasm, made some gougères (which are, to be honest, nowt more than cheese puffs). Do you know how good those suckers are when stuffed with caviar dip? Thought not.

By the time we got to that point Bryan turned up bearing bottles, just as well as we would otherwise have had to go on to the reserve tanks of wine in the cellar, the white having more or less run out. Not as though we were in grave danger of dying of thirst, but still ... can never be too careful.

Should probably point out that this was, despite us all being anglophones, a French Christmas lunch: we start getting serious around 14:00. Anything earlier and you're just toying with your food. Mind you, there's plenty to be toyed with, if you're that way inclined.

I'd just like to mention that we were remarkably restrained. No snails, no smoked salmon, no oysters, no foie gras, and no pestilential poulet de Bresse swimming in its own fat.

Come to that, we even passed on the bloody buche de Noel, that splendidly multi-coloured ice-cream log. Although Jeremy insisted on having marrons glacés, which are basically large lumps of vaguely chestnut-flavoured sugar. And there was pavlova.

Made a pleasant change, truth to tell, from the usual Christmas masses of food, with tables groaning and the sideboard buckling under the weight. I really cannot handle that any more. I know I say that every year, but it's true. I'd much rather something lightweight these days.

Still, although we ate with - for us - great moderation, I have to admit that come the evening we were still more or less grazing, and there was no great enthusiasm for dinner. Hardly a surprise, really.

I know it's wrong of me, and I'm sure to be disappointed, soon enough, but I really do find it difficult to believe that Spring is not just around the corner. The shortest day of the year has been and gone, the sky is blue and brilliant and not only is it warm enough for the barbecue, it's warm enough to be out there tending to it in a t-shirt. (Well, provided you stay in the sun, anyway.)

It's great for us - keeps the heating bills down, a good thing given the price of fuel oil these days - but it must be pretty bad up in the ski stations. The Dutch and the Parisians have descended upon us bu they're going to have to find something else to do with their time, because I'm not sure that the skiing will be all that good.

Oh yeah, there was a good fall last weekend - heavy enough that you could not, in fact, go skiing - but there can't be that much left. Or if there is, it'll be stuff from the snow cannons, and that's not really the same.

So we're slowly winding down, munching on left-over canapés and about all I can face this evening is perhaps a little blackberry and apple strudel. Still have to get in training for New Year, mind you - but I think that too will be a quiet affair, especially as I have to drop Mal and Tony off at Geneva at some unearthly hour.

And right now, I am still waiting for all those pestilential freetards to get off the intartoobz so that I can download the latest Doctor Who Christmas special.

Anyway, a late Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year to the lot of you.

1 comment:

  1. this often [...] means a pain surprise
    The story of my life.

    so that I can download the latest Doctor Who Christmas special.
    The Doktorling has dibs on that.