Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sumer Is A-cumen ...

So, five English-persons (or maybe the same one, five times) looking for "sexy hunk" is understandable, but I really have no idea why someone in Pakistan should be looking for pictures of buttocks (well, that's a foolish lie, I admit, I actually have a damned good idea). I certainly cannot think, on the other hand, what impelled someone in Turkey to go looking for "manufacturers of budgerigar". And why Google should send them here is totally beyond my comprehension ... like so many things these days, alas.

Whatever, we didn't, what with one thing and another, mostly involving car in paddock, get around to eating that asparagus last night so I'm searching back in some of the more archaic neurons in the hindbrain to see what I could do with them. Well, not so much what I could do with the asparagus, I know exactly what's going to happen to them, it's more a question of what else is going on the plate.

I have some nice fat juicy hamburger steaks in the fridge, so I thought perhaps a couple of burgers with asparagus to go: sadly, we seem to be right out of hamburger buns. A decent lasagna would be good, but I also have these bloody gratins left over from last night and I'm pretty sure that potato and pasta would be classed as overdoing the carbohydrates. Which would also rule out pizza.

Which kind of leaves me with a choice between chicken thighs (in lemon juice, with white wine and cream? Please?) or that bit of saddle of lamb, just nicely roasted. Or both, I suppose - not the same night, obviously - there's more than enough asparagus. Decisions, decisions ...

Well, as it happens, it was the chicken that won. And tonight, before those hamburger patties decide to open the fridge door and escape under their own steam, as greenish zombie-steaks, it's going to be decadent luxury-burgers. With a slab of foie gras on each, just for fun, and béarnaise sauce instead of ketchup. It's going to be fun - and probably messy - trying to get them in our mouths, though. Especially with that buttery asparagus on the side. Perhaps I should remove my tie before sitting down to eat, given that it's a reasonably nice one I'm rather fond of.

(Can't remember how I acquired it though. It's not one of the op-shop jobs I still have and love from 30 years ago, and I can't recall actually buying it: I suspect it must have been a present. And from the colours, must have been from Sophie. I think. Hopefully, the topic will never come up in conversation.)

Had you noticed that most TV series downloads are only available as MP4 format these days? Bit of a bugger really as the computer in the TV room is so certifiably ancient as to have a version of Media Player which doesn't understand such things, and as it also has only XP on it there's no point trying to install anything more recent - so anyway, if we want to watch something like that we have to head upstairs and settle down in bed with a warm cocoa and the laptop balanced on my knees.

So last night we were watching "Republic of Doyle" in just such a manner and another thing I had not noticed when I downloaded it was that it was a version with voice-over, presumably for the blind. So WTF are blind people doing watching TV? Wouldn't they be better off just listening to the radio? What's the point of the moving pictures? Cos it is very annoying, in a TV program, to have some bint say "Now Jake is just going over and slaps Des. Des seems hurt and surprised". I mean, I know that, I can bloody see it happening.

It has been drawn to my attention that you have this thing called a "Brownley" or something like that, which pops up from time to time and makes stupid comments along the lines of "pull me finger!" and generally manages to insult Scandinavians, which given the history of the Viking invasions is not genererally considered to be a good idea.

Could you please get rid of him? He seems totally pointless. I mean, not that I'm personally concerned, or anything, just saying. But hey, if he brightens up your day and you don't mind being a laughing-stock, by all means hang on to him. Decent village idiots are hard to find these days, you just can't get the wood.

Just as an aside, could I point out that for some things, French is a remarkably poor language? Replete in all terms erotic, unlike English - to the point where a translator we knew once confided that she could not translate an erotic novel from French to English, as the result was invariably either obscene or off-puttingly clinical - but sadly lacking in other respects.

Take the good old English "toe" for instance. Do you know what the French for that is? Quite right, it is "doigt de pied", or literally, "foot-finger". I ask you. (Actually, that's not entirely fair. There's another word, "orteil" but that seems little-used, doubtless due to the possible confusion with "ortie", which is a nettle. Asking someone if they've cleaned between their nettles might not be appreciated. But "athlete's foot" does translate directly as "foot mushrooms", which is rather gross if you ask me. Oh, and don't get me onto the subject of why the hell it's "une bite" and "le vagin". But "la chatte". Go figure.)

Tomorrow is Stacey's birthday, and she just rang to ask if I would make pizzas for dinner. She would like a bog-standard flammenkuche, and maybe a Hawaiian, so I just looked in the pantry for the redcurrant jelly and some pineapple slices: did you know that there was a tin of apple purée in there with a use-by date of 2006? Neither did I, only noticed because of the black oozy rings under the tin. Note to self: do not even think about eating that one. Mind you, I'm a bit scared about chucking it out, lest it take offence and seek revenge. Best perhaps to leave things as they are.

Been there, done that. A couple of tartes flambées with sour cream, onions, bacon, goat cheese and redcurrant jelly, and two pizzas marocains with poivron and chorizo - and, for Sue's pleasure, pineapple. (Did you know that they apparently call it an "australian"?)

I am going to have to do a bit of work on the dough for the tarte flambée base mind you: cooking on a hot slate tile helps but you still need a really hot oven, the delivery system (sliding it off waxed paper) needs improvement, and above all I'm convinced that I can do better. The traditional recipe is just flour, oil, salt and water, in coyly unspecified proportions: I think that using saindoux (aka pork dripping) as the basis for a pate feuilletée, instead of butter, would work better.

Given the speed at which it all disappeared, regardless of these defects, I rather suspect I'll have the chance to try, and sooner rather than later.

Whatever, the holidays are over and there are only geriatrics and foreigners up in the ski stations, which is why the autoroute was more or less deserted when I headed through to the market this morning, because they tend to be late risers.

Still, they made up for it later: the off-ramp for the péage at the northern end of Chambéry was blocked solid when I went past later on, not particularly helped by the fact that a couple of people had apparently decided that it would be a Good Idea to have an accident just there, and had completely blocked one lane as they filled out the insurance declarations.

Makes you wonder, sometimes, why people bother going off on holiday. Are they really looking for the extra stress, what with the kids already squealing "are we there yet?" and all? I'm pretty sure I'm better off just heading down to the garden with book and bottle: it doesn't take nearly as long to get there, the view's just as good and the food is cheaper - and better.

Unfortunately, as it is yet another fine day (don't worry, supposed to get a dégradation next week, maybe with snow - I told you so) world + dog (and granny, and her frikking trolley) was out at the market and, unpardonably, later on at the bars, soaking up the sun. (Terrace chez Liddy was full, and I had to resort to squatting a fire hydrant at le Modesto. These are truly sad times.)

Despite which it was still a quick trip: a rougette, some tomatoes that are starting to taste like they're supposed to, aubergine and some sanguines, and of course asparagus. Still too early, sad to say, for stone fruit, so as the mandarins are no longer fit to eat and the pears are definitely questionable, Margo's reduced to eating bananas until something better comes along.

Which, in the fullness of time, it will, and we shall gorge ourselves on apricots and nectarines and peaches and plums until we is sick, but it's still a long hard wait. But worth it, if only for the cherries which should start to arrive in a few weeks.

Sadly, as Bryan's plans have advanced at such speed that they open the doors at his new language school end of next week, he was off painting the just-rented offices, and Beckham replied that she was still in her pyjamas and had no particular desire to turn up at a bar dressed like that. A shame, really.

But anyway, even a solitary glass of white at midday is better than none at all, especially under the sun in a blue sky.

While I think of it - in the occasional "Place-Names You Don't Want To Know" department there is Craponne-sur-Arzon. Don't ask.

And tomorrow, off to see our old friend Jacques up in the Maurienne: there's a little salon du gout et du terroir he's got some tickets for, there's a teeny patchwork show at Hermillon that, as we're going to be around, Margo would like to have a look at, and I'm sure we'll squeeze lunch in there somewhere.

Mind how you go, now.


  1. Why can't you have your flammenkuche on baking paper or a silicone sheet (I have 2 of those, they're wonderful) & slide the whole lot onto your very hot slate? I did a pizza for tea last night & it was great & the benefit of the silicone sheet is that you don't have to spend half the evening removing burned-on cheese & tomato from your pizza stone :-)

  2. Oddly enough, that's exactly the solution I came up with - the baking paper, that is. My main problem with that is purely aesthetic, as trying to slide the buggers off the baking paper and onto the stone when cooked so that they look pretty when served is not always as easy as it could be, sometimes ending in tears all round and pizza on the floor.