Thursday, December 31, 2009

Huîtres Stendhaliennes.

Traditionally, for New Year, a lot of French folks do an oyster feast. It's easy to prepare* , a bit luxurious, and delicious with champagne, so what's not to like? Since we tend to eat oysters a couple times a week,** the question was, how to make it a bit different for the reveillon?

Inspiration struck at the market after a visit to the bookstore. I'd just cleaned up on used copies of books by Stendhal, and the Frenchie, who could easily lecture on the guy, found cancales***.

"Oh, we're having cancales for dinner tonight. Absolutely. They're perfect."

Never having heard of these before and not knowing what the heck reference he was making, I asked why.

"They're Stendhalian oysters, of course! In Lucien Leeuwen he references going to Le Rocher de Cancale**** to eat oysters. I absolutely want oysters like Stendhal would have eaten himself in Paris."

So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight: oysters like our favorite writer would have had over on rue Montorgeuil back in the day and a nice, dry Crémant from the Loire Valley to wash them down with.

I can only hope for as good for all my friends; can't imagine better. Happy New Year.


* fishmongers will put together all sorts of plates with everything from oysters to crabs to langoustines and shrimps from all over the world, so no work at all if you want to pay.

** No, we're not high rollers; the Frenchie's Old School. He shucks them himself. I'm not nearly as good as he is, but can hold my own. With a bit more practice, am sure I could get a job somewhere opening oysters.

This in mind, biweekly plates of oysters are much more doable; the ones I like go for roughly 5-6€/dozen.

*** Cancales are like Belons - round and flat with toast colored shells. They are to Paris as Duxburies are to Boston.

**** As of last year, anyway, this restaurant still exists.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pavel's on day three of cleaning out the kitchen; I just completed one of the bedrooms. Really, really strange. I'm not depressed over anything personal, just how the situation devolved so. It appears as though I've got the affairs of not one, but three people to take care of now.

Oh, the rosaries, too. Have found at least two dozen, probably more. Those and lots of mass books, both in Polish and English.

Yesterday, the Zen cleaning wave that I'm pretty sure most Polish females of strong body and sound enough mind can generally catch a ride on when they need to was broken with a sinister laugh from the kitchen:

"Come and Bake with us, Joanie. Come and Bake with us forever...and ever...and ever..."

My Mother was obsessed with him. Why? He was cute, I guess. She had a tee shirt that further explained that he smiled a lot and was "rolling in dough."

The refrigerator was full of packaged cookie dough and dinner rolls; the cupboard had six or seven different cake/baked good mixes. Kept the dry mixes, but had to toss the refrigerated stuff as it was starting to sprout.

Oh, and the collectors items: ornaments, wallpaper borders, kitchen linens, a cookie jar to name a few. I think there's something like three crates full of knicknacks. Most all of it's smoke damaged, so it's not like one could flog any of it on e-Bay, either.

Wish I could just toss it. Doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to, though. The thought of doing that makes me incredibly sad.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of my big, long-gone crushes turned 450 today.

(Pictures from my pilgrimage to his home this Summer are here.)


Bonne Anniversaire. (Rock on.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Getting/I've Got This Year's Hit:

A blast from the past, ca. 2002. Don't think that much of this is happening in Iceland nowadays.

Eg = ich (ego)
kaupi/th/i = kaufe
ploetu = plat/plate/disk
arsins = jahr/year, sins/dieses = this


Neither Pavel nor I speak Icelandic. He seems to think that Kau/pi/thi is the imperative and that the title's exhorting us to buy the record. Have no idea. Fun to lazily conjecture after a good, warm meal on a cold night, though.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."

-Elizabeth Zimmermann
Got plenty to read, too. I want to knit, but if I can't keep track of the stitches or I'm not allowed to bring my needles on board (happened the last trip back from France), I'll read.

Finished the Tuchman book on the 14th Century and Audubon's collected writings. Didn't know which to follow up with first (The Tuchman was a great followup to the Amy Kelly book in Eleanor of Aquitaine - thought I might go back to what I'd read in college to hang onto the framework that both these books gave.). Decided on reading around Audubon, as the first contemporary who came to mind was another Frenchman doing pretty well both as a writer and a bureaucrat under Napoleon's reign: Stendhal. (Why not? It was either going to be him or Tocqueville.) Got my spanking new copy of Le Rouge et le Noir (lost the old one. Have 85 different copies of his treatise on Love, but don't much feel like that right now. Need some drama, some sharp wit, some biting social commentary. When I get tired of Stendhal, I have some Twain short stories to lift my spirits and some essays by Jeanne Kirkpatrick to bring me down (not that I'll be needing any of that this weekend).

Mostly, though, I hope to knit.
Loose Ends.

Weaving in a lot of them lately; guess the end of the year's got me in make-up mode:

Angry Cowl I

That's Pavel, also known as the "Plaid Bomber," modeling a really ingenious little cowl that knitted up quickly, but took forever for me to seam. Got that off in the mail today for my friend with the perpetual air conditioner on the neck problem.

Graduation Present Swing Coat

Since, at about the time when I got my diploma, I had very little in the way of mad grad money, decided to knit myself a present. Unfortunately, in the time it took me to (ahem) finish it, I lost *a lot* of weight (we're talking like 20 lbs). Don't look anywhere near as sophisticated as the model on the pattern does; actually feel kind of frumpy in it. Still, it's warm, very warm, and is kind of growing on me emotionally. Heck, I made it for me! (Also blew 10 balls of Wool Ease out of my stash. Hooray!)


The Frenchie needed a gift for his organisation's annual swap, so decided on a handmade filet with a pot of feral grape jelly. The pattern's called "Grrlfriend," so since mine's green and destined for France, am calling it "Grrenouille." (Really love this pattern; knits up quickly and makes a very sturdy, expansive pouch for whatever. Love the satchel strap styling, too. Really need to make one of these for myself one of these days.)

Dopey Bear II

The pieces for this little guy (comprised mainly of some rope-gauge acrylic that Hal found in/at/around a dumpster years ago) languished in my project bag for *months* before I finally got it together fill him with rags and put him together. Don't think I could ever give away this little misfit; I identify too much with him. (Got the pattern from Debbie Bliss. Love her stuff; don't really like making a lot of these toys, though. Too much fiddling around with a sewing needle. Oh well.)

A friend of mine asked if he was a pickpocket and if he liked oysters and periwinkles. I figured that I wasn't sure on either account. Decided to name him Olivier, just in case.


So that's what's done now. Have a lot more left to finish before the year's out. For the trip to Buffalo, am bringing along two lace projects: Hemlock Ring (am just about finished with the center bloom. Kind of slow going with the three last lace rows before one goes to feather and fan.), and my beautiful stork's nest lace scarf.

If I can get these two things done by the time I get back from Buffalo (leaving tonight, returning on Monday night), will be very happy.