Sunday, September 11, 2016

Eating Fish ...

So after an impromptu and totally not-my-fault meal with Rick and Mary the other night (so I had a bit too much beef fillet. Go sue me) we organised ourselves for a Tuesday's goofing off, a day at the beach.

Don't know how it happened, but we got to Narbonne and onto the road to Gruissan, and then somehow we got lost. Or geographically disadvantaged, whatever.

But once we'd worked out that we didn't actually know where we were it turned out to be pretty easy to get where we really wanted to be, by following the roads through the lines of little ticky-tacky boxes (and giving way at each intersection, which is so not fun) and wound up once again at la Perle Gruissanaise for a seafood lunch.

And no, we did not take the dogs. Some people do, but they have well-behaved dogs. Sad to say, we do not. Okay, Indra and Jara would - eventually - have calmed down and sat quietly at our feet whilst we munched our prawns and bread and salad and sipped/slurped the excellent local white (La Clape, try it if you get a chance) but Piddling Emma would definitely have let the side down if you ask me.

Then once we had eaten, and drunk, we clambered our way across the breakwater and down to the little beach at that end of the port, and collected sand in various orifices and laid back in the sun and watched the water come lazily in before retreating, clawing back the shells and interesting stones and bits of driftwood and the odd condom into the sea, to turn up eventually on another beach, to give other people somewhere else something to look at. Maybe Tokyo Bay is the human condition writ small, all I know is that I really hate getting sand in my jandals.

Also, we had inexplicably forgotten to take glasses and another half-litre of cool white wine with us, which is always a bummer when contemplating metaphysical questions.

Because such things are usually fueled by alcohol, and under the sun on a day as summer draws to a close, white wine is the best there is. (Although Rick prefers rosé, but then he is not really a serious thinker.)

As part of our on-going effort here at The Shamblings™ to improve the human condition, I will shortly be patenting the Device And Method For Keeping Spaniels' Ears Clean During The Act Of Ingestion. (I realise that, like Leonard da Quirm, the Naming Of Things is not one of my strong points, and I'd appreciate it if anyone could suggest something slightly snappier. It's so important for commercialisation, of which I have great hopes.)

The invention consists of two studs (A and B) of surgical-quality titanium which shall each have on the upper portion a vertical axis on which a neodymium magnet may freely rotate in such a manner that the N/S faces are parallel to the axis (see Fig. 1). Each stud is implanted at the end of an ear (assuming a standard two-eared dog) with the aforementioned axis on the upper side of the ear. When feeding time arrives the studs may be brought together in such a manner (thanks to the freely rotating axes) that the magnets M1 and M2 are attracted sufficiently to hold the tips of the two ears over the head, rather in the fashion of a bonnet (see Fig. 2), so that they may not fall into the dish of food.

When eating is completed it suffices to slide the flat surfaces of the two magnets in an opposed direction (see Fig. 3): they are thus disjoined and the ears may once again fall freely. Is this a Great Idea, or should I start taking the medication again?

In other news, I took little Suzy off a few weeks ago - whilst she was still insured - along the wibbly-wobbly rough goat-tracks that pass for roads around here and into the vineyards to - umm, acquire -  a certain number of souches de vigne. Which are now lurking in the garage, and from time to time as the need arrives, I go down with the sabre saw and slice them into bits, and then they go onto one of the barbecues - which one depends on how many of us are going to be eating.

They're at least 50 years old by the time they're untimely ripp'd from the earth, and so as dense as The Donald - consequently absolutely ideal for this porpoise: the only problem, if such it is, is that they just keep on going. So once the flames had burnt down one evening I slapped on the spatchcocked chicken and about 45 minutes later that was ready and we ate it: it's just that once we'd eaten and I went out to inspect the funeral pyre I could not help but notice that it was just ready for, as it might be, a nice côte de boeuf. And then, maybe, some toasted marshmallows.

Come to that, I re-offended last night when Martin and Angela (and Manon the puppy) and Rick and Mary came around. Rick brought a huge 2-litre bottle of tonic, saying he'd just have one little gin and then he was on to something rather better for his liver: I note that the bottle is still lying, untouched, in the fridge.

I also seem to recall that he and Martin between them finished off the bottle of Gran Riservo Ambrato vermouth that was lurking there, as being the best I could find for making dry martinis (because proper Martini Sec cannot be found for love nor money in these benighted parts, and Noilly Prat is not the same) so I shall have to make a trip to the one supermarket of which I know that stocks the stuff, and so replenish my supply.

(In all honesty, not entirely his fault. We'd run out of wine in bottles, had already finished off the Tanqueray in the freezer and the sherry had not yet been stuck in the fridge, so when he called imperiously for something to drink that "would surprise me" I had precious little choice. And when Martin asked for "that is so excellent, a bit of the same?" I knew the bottle was doomed.)

Whatever, two large côtes de boeuf and a half-dozen sardines went to their maker over the coals, along with the last few cobs of corn I could obtain (at, admittedly, eye-watering prices, thanks to the general drought in these here parts), and then ... Do you recall, back in the seventies when burnt oranges and browns were considered good colour choices for wallpaper, that really classy dessert made by dunking gingernut biscuits in sherry and then sandwiching them together with whipped cream? And flummery?

Thought you might. And as Martin had brought back a couple of bottles of sherry and a few packets of gingernuts from the UK, as part-payment for our looking after little Manon for the week, it seemed to be the only reasonable thing to do.

Anyway, the vendange has started around these parts, and there is a great clattering of tractors and a general air of cautiously optimistic morosity. The grapes are exceedingly small, and on a lot of bunches there's maybe 30% that haven't even developed past the tiny green marble stage, but those that have are very ripe and massively full of sugar.

Godnose what they're going to do with that: I am not a vigneron, but even I can guess that the quantity will be way down, and depending on how it's vinified it could be overloaded with tannin and absolutely ghastly, or just right and - unusually for these parts - turn into a decent vin de garde. Not really my problem, I just drink the stuff.

But right now I guess I'd better go see how many puddles of piddle there are to be cleaned up in the verandah, then carry on working on my sun-tan. Mind how you go, now.

1 comment:

  1. We really enjoy reading your babblings - so much so that we have decided to come and visit you next June!