Friday, 12 November 2010

96. Distant snow

11th November 2010. Now that the monsoon of the last 3-4 days appears to have blown itself out, we decided to nip across the border to Irun this morning for some shopping.. On the return journey, I was looking across at the Pyrenees and through a gap in the nearest hills I could see through to some more distant ones. To my surprise, the sun was shining like a spotlight through a break in the cloud onto a snow-covered peak..   

Question du Jour: What's Velcro® known as in French..? (Answer at foot of post) (and no - it's not Velcreau..!)

Cheese - good or bad for you? An article in the New York Times sparked off this report from a US TV channel that attempts to link excessive cheese consumption with obesity and to score a political point in so doing. According to these figures (below), Greece is the top of the heap with France second. Yet strangely enough, contrary to the conclusion that might be drawn from the US report, neither Greece nor France are awash with wobbling blimps. In fact, it's a very rare event to see anyone overweight - let alone obese - waddling through the streets here in France. And - this will get me into trouble but it's true - those I have seen have usually had English accents.
I think obesity is less to do with 'excessive' cheese consumption and everything to do with a sedentary 'couch-potato' lifestyle, over-sized portions, snacking between meals and an excessive intake of processed foods high in additives such as sugars and salt - but then I'm not a doctor.

And so to Woody Allen - here he is with his thoughts on what makes life worth living (from "Manhattan")..
I like the moment in this scene (at 02:23) when the penny finally drops with him.. (been there..)

What would be on your list? Your answers welcomed.

12th November 2010. I found this clip on YouTube of the sea at Biarritz today..
13th November 2010. Last Saturday morning, the river was the lowest I've ever seen it and we had rain showers - just to stop us getting bored..! I usually row on Saturday mornings and Tuesday & Thursday evenings. Last Tuesday, the Pays Basque was being lashed by continuous rain and Thursday was a national holiday (Armistice Day) so today was my first outing for a week. It was the opposite of last Saturday.. it was warm - I'm guessing 16°C - under a burning blue cloudless sky, the river was full to the brim and static - it must have been high tide. We did 13km in a coxless quad sculler. (running total = 321km)

To St Jean de Luz this afternoon - the car was registering 23.5°C (74°F) and it was like a summer's day down there - people on the beach, swimmers, surfers, people messing about in boats, queues for ice creams (!)..

I've been thinking about the Woody Allen question and one item that would definitely make my list of things that make life worth living (apart from my dearly beloved, natch!) is a Vacherin Mont d'Or cheese.. Known as Vacherin Mont d'Or in Switzerland or Mont d'Or in France, it's a seasonal cheese normally only available in the winter months.
A Mont d'Or cheese (the French version)
Baked Vacherin
There are also many recipes for baked Vacherin (I've not tried it baked).. and this one looks interesting.. What to drink with it..? This cheese can take a big wine and, personally, I'd earmark my best bottle of red for this cheese. (Something like a Pessac-Léognan or a Saint-Julien (this is an affordable one - but it would benefit from being laid down for a few years), or, if your taste leans more towards the Rhônes, a Gigondas or a Côte Rôtie) (It's once a year so don't worry about the price - you're a long time dead..) If Madame asks you what you'd like for Christmas, now you know! That is - if you haven't got one of these handy doo-hickeys on the right!

Highlight of the weekend? No question.. England vs Australia at Twickenham..
What a try by Ashton and what a terrific team performance! Roll on the Six Nations..

Answer: Scratch.

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