26 April, 2010

Play it again - that song that I can't get off my mind

Last year, I was part of a special production celebrating the musical career of Catherine Harsono, produced by the Bangkok Music Society: Catherine - An enchanted musical journey. I sang in a surprise number prepared just for Catherine based on Gershwin Bros' melody Lady be good.

Every Sunday evening the radio channel France Musiques broadcasts a show called Le jazz dans la peau (Jazz under my skin). Every show is built around a jazz standard. As the show started tonight, I was thinking how Lady be good would be a good theme for this show; it's been popular with lots of jazz artists. And lo behold! the theme tonight was Lady be good.

If you're feeling blue, listen to this great show built around this and other famous Gershwin standards: swing, blues, ragtime, ballad, scat, fiddle, guitar, saxophone, double bass, ukelele, piano, Ella... I'm sure you'll feel cheerier afterwards.
Next week, there'll be another jazzy theme and variations on this show.

Play it again
The Eyeliners, Sealed with a kiss, Lookout

Photo: © Michael Carter and Bangkok Music Society

21 April, 2010

Behold the sea!

This week end I went to visit my grand-aunts Odette and Yvette in their family beach bungalow in Mimizan-Plage in the Landes region of Southwest France. Their house is located below the great sand dune, a gentle five-minute stroll up to the view above.

I had a very restful week end of sunbathing, jogging along the beach and a few extremely quick dips in the water; it was still very cold.

Aunties Yvette and Odette are the only family members I have left of my grandparents' generation. They are the ones who got my generation used to the long hearty family meals of traditional French food, which I still cook for myself when I have guests today. They are the origin of most of the recipes I keep in my cooking repertoire. When in France I will call them if I need an urgent cooking tip.

Most striking for me was how the local meat cuts they got from their butcher this week end made the lamb shank and the pork roast tasted very different from what I usually prepare in Paris, although I use the same recipe that came from them through my mother. It was further evidence for me that quality of food is clearly linked to its origin. For more information on food quality linked to origin, click here.

Symphony no. 1 "A sea symphony"
Ralph Vaughan Williams
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult, EMI classics

20 April, 2010

Let us drink and be merry

Having come back to Paris, I am slowly forming my network of friends again. Last Thursday evening I had the great pleasure to get back together with two university class mates after four or perhaps even six years since I last saw them.

It was wonderful to be with Thibault and Benjamin again. Thib took us to a meat restaurant next to Les Halles where all the staff are dressed as butchers and there is meat being roasted on vertical skewers where you would usually expect a display of alcohol bottles to be: behind the bar. This place is not for vegetarians! The place is called Le louchebem. The name is French butcher's slang for "The butcher".

Great meat cuts, fine desserts, lots lots lots of wine. Thib finished the meal with a "baba au rhum", a pear-shaped sponge cake cut in half and doused in rhum. The house gave him a bottle of rhum to pour over the cake, but most of the bottle was poured into our glasses and drunk.

I was very happy riding home on my bicycle that night.

Photo: © Thibault Viremouneix and the anonymous butcher-waiter who took it.

Let us drink and be merry
George Berg
See p.4 of http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/images/8/8f/Drinking.pdf

04 April, 2010

I'm gonna chow down my vegetables

I'm experimenting this year by only buying produce that is in season and locally produced.

During the week, I eat a big lunch at the canteen so I only have soup, salad, cheese and a fruit for dinner. I eat a more diverse menu during the week end, but as I still live alone, the shopping basket stays small. See this week's shopping in the photo.

I go to a nearby organic market every Saturday morning and try to buy fruits and vegetable that are in season. I'm not a fundamentalist though: I do not limit myself to the 100-mile circumference that some localists advocate. Instead, I buy anything that's produced in France.

Still, the range is rather limited in early spring. The hardest is doing without tomatoes and bell peppers which are usually staple vegetable for me. I'll have to wait a bit. They're still imported from Spain or Italy now.

Vega- Tables
Smile, Brian Wilson, Nonesuch Variete

03 April, 2010


After one whole month, France Telecom has finally managed to get my Internet connection to work at home! I was also relieved to see that the 1st April connection was not a joke.

I sometimes take a break from Internet by going on an unconnected holiday for a week. However, in this day and age when moving into a large modern city entails so much administrative hassle, not having easy Internet access is really frustrating. One good thing though: I got to catch up on my novel reading last month.

Happy Easter!

Hallelujah chorus
Georg Friedrich Haendel. Messiah.
Les musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski, Archiv.