Sunday, May 4, 2014

Screens And Salivation ...

In paragraph 42, alinea b of our mission statement, it is set out - for reasons unknown to me, but there it is in black on white - "Eat out more often". Let it never be said that we do not respect to the letter our contractual obligations, so when Margo got back from Nantes the other day we did in fact go out for dinner. Also, I couldn't be arsed cooking ...

Cédric had given us the name of a restaurant at Fabrézan, just down the road, where - he assured us - "the desserts are to die for" and so we headed off to Les Calicots to see what we would find. Skip the entrée, for I took foie gras because it's a given that if that happens to be on the menu I will take it, and get on to the main course. Margo opted for the agneau de sept heures which is, as its name suggests, lamb that has been very slowly braised for about seven hours, although I doubt anyone actually bothers to time it, and I went for the cuisse de canard confite - on the grounds that a cassoulet would have been too much.

The lamb was as it should be, meltingly tender if a bit on the sweet side, but personally I remain unconvinced that the combination of a duck's leg simmered in its own fat for four hours and a sauce aux cèpes is a particularly happy one. In fact, I'm sure that you could do better things with both, but pairing them is not a Good Idea. But the beignet de courgette on the side was perfect, hot and crisp and totally unsoggy.

Madame found her tiramisu a bit on the stodgy side, but my crème brulée aux fleurs de lavande was wonderful, a subtle hint of lavender under a thin crisp of sugar. Be warned: they serve wine by the glass, the glasses are large, and they have a generous hand when filling them. Just saying. Luckily it's not too far from here,  on the back roads yet.

Anyway, if I was a happy man last weekend, what with my book turning up and all, imagine my pleasure when the Chronopost person turned up at the door with my new laser printer all to myself and that I do not have to share, and the ViewSonic 27" screen I'd ordered just because. Of reasons. Like, because a 21" screen just doesn't hack it these days, and I was bored. Of course the HDMI cable I'd ordered to connect the aforesaid screen to the PC did not turn up at the same time ... what can one expect?

Truth to tell, I'm not sure I actually like it that much. It's 16:9, like most screens these days, which is fine if you're watching TV or whatever: the thing is, I spend most of my time coding - when not watching cute kitty porn - and I want to see what I'm doing in context. And because coding involves lots and lots of lines (of code, fairly obviously, and snide, obscure, or obscene comments - actually COBOL was rather good, because you could write a line like PERFORM [sex act of choice] UNTIL [appropriate organ condition]), most of which max out at about 130 characters (for purely historical reasons, involving the width of line printer drums), I could care more about the width of a screen.

No, what I want is one onto which I can fit as many lines as possible, and by that criterion a modern screen is a retrograde step because I've lost about 200 pixels in height, let's call it 15 lines. Never mind, I can live with it - and I went off and bought another because let's face it, it is good for watching TV.

So now I have three unused LCD/LED whatever screens sitting around, and add to that the set of Altec speakers from the living-room because of course the ViewSonic has built-in speakers which just work when you're connected over HDMI so that avoids faffing about with yet another cable to plug in. (Although I am keeping my Altec pots, they're heavy on the bass which makes them great for my sort of music. Which is what they get used for.) And speaking of cables, I have a whole box full of them. Some of them are sufficiently weird that I cannot think what bit of gear it could originally have been for, nor why I still have it, come to that. I think there's still an ancient SCSI-I cable in there somewhere ...

And I can see that I shall have to get another box, just for the power cables. Which are at least, for the most part, still bagged in their original packaging, so their little part of the box does not resemble a mass of writhing vicious snakes. This is always a relief, and makes a pleasant change from going off to look for a USB extension cable or maybe a bit of CAT-5, because contrary to common belief I do not actually enjoy packing a Glock in order to defend myself if attacked.

Be that as it may, in France Thursday was the 1st of May - maybe it was the same for you, I don't know - which is la fête du travail in these here furrin parts. Normal people (insofar as we can qualify French-things as normal) celebrate this by going off and getting stinking drunk and not working (and, should it fall on a Thursday, they take the Friday off as well due to being so hungover that it's not really worth their while turning up): unfortunately, the Swiss do not subscribe to this model. They prefer to respect the day by working their arses off, which I personally find rather depressing because that means that I am more or less obliged to do the same.

In other news, let me advise you against buying a house in the south of France. Not because of woodworm, not because of rising damp, not because I really don't want you as a neighbour (although all of the above could well be true), but quite simply because if you don't have a really deep cellar your charcuterie is not going to work out, and then you'd be sad.

I say this because, if you recall, I made saucisson à la Pépin a short while back, and as there was still a faint whiff of mould in the garage (and it is also inhabited by various cats, whom I do not trust) I thought it prudent to hang them up in the attic, in what will - God willing, at some point in time - become our apartment.

Point the first - twelve hours in the brine was quite enough, after eighteen they're just a tad salty. Not bad, but still ... and point two, it's just too damn hot and dry up in the attic. A nice slow drying over five weeks would have been good, rather than the two weeks they eventually took..

Perhaps the next time the garage will be fit for purpose, or just maybe I shall let them slowly dry out on a rack in the fridge.

Also in the "wonderful news, you could probably care more" department, a little old lady at the Carcassonne market sells actual grapefruit as opposed to those gross balloons full of sugar water and snot from Florida. Small, orange-yellow, and acid. Takes me back to my (misspent) youth, when one of the pleasures of going home for a weekend was coming back with a crate of grapefruit from the various trees around the house, and juicing those we couldn't eat. (Remember when grilled grapefruit, spread with honey and ginger and stuck under the grill until it all caramelised nicely, were all the rage in what we thought of as classy restaurants? It dates you, you know.)

And there's still green asparagus - you can't imagine just how bored I'm getting with that - and the first of the apricots and the nectarines have arrived on the stands. Not local - too early for that - but still, just shipped in from across the border with Spain. Which, as you'll recall, is not far from here. So I feel no guilt whatsoever,  no matter what the "sustainable locally-sourced" yoghurt-knitters may say.

Oh, there are also the baby poivrons now in various hues, just crying out to be stuffed with a bit of chèvre such as that which I just happen to have in the fridge, and I reckon they will go down quite nicely alongside a good kilo of barbecued côte de boeuf. Which also, since you mention it, is lurking in there too. (Along with a bit of filet, which I picked up on the same occasion because given the ridiculous price it'd have been criminal not to do so.)

There's also rhubarb: I'd always been at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it until recently (probably sad memories of sour watery puddings, but who knows) but then I came across this and although I cannot honestly say that it changed my life it did at least convince me to give the stuff a try. And it's not all that bad, actually. (And I would just like to point out that it is certifiably local, coming as it does from one of the rough and ready market stands that are run by a couple of elderly people selling the surplus from their garden.)

And the stems always look so pretty, scarlet at the base, fading into green - it was not my fault, the Devil made me do it.

So you can probably guess what I have lined up to do this evening. But first up on the agenda is a walk with STD in the sun - assuming that we can escape the attentions of EBK, who thinks that we are not capable of tottering around the village on our own and require his assistance, so he follows in the usual kitten fashion of dropping back and then running ahead, and generally puts Shaun off when he's trying to concentrate on having a discreet crap - and then I have an  appointment with a tin of WD40 and one of the recalcitrant sliding doors from the verandah out onto the terrace. I had better get on to that. Have fun.

1 comment:

  1. You might also try a pudding involving lotsa rhubarb + apple on the base (with a littlebittasugar if it's particularly tart) topped with a ginger sponge that includes bits of crystallised ginger.
    Go on, you know you want to!