Sunday, 17 May 2015

220. La Tantina de la Playa, Bidart

Thursday, 28th May. A few months back I was browsing YouTube looking for Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 2 (2nd Movement) - a well-known piece that was one of my father's favourites - and I stumbled upon Yuja Wang's interpretation of this most lyrical of piano concertos. I'll never complain about China's exports again!

Here she is again with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 3 - a notoriously difficult piece:
For those of you lucky enough to be in Edinburgh for the Festival in summer, she'll be playing at the Queens Hall on 26th August. (Other concert dates here)

Monday, 25th May. Went to see Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" at the Theatre du Midi in Biarritz on Saturday.. The theatre is housed in the magnificent former Gare du Midi that served Biarritz during la Belle Epoque and it seemed to be sold out for the performance.

The former railway station has to be seen to be believed.. Built at a time when Biarritz was the preferred summer watering hole of many of Europe's crowned heads of state, the sheer style, power, originality and grandeur of its architecture is still able to induce involuntary jaw-dropping in all but the most jaded of onlookers. I've not seen another building quite like it anywhere. One hundred years on, we seem to have lost confidence in our ability to express the vitality and spirit of our age -  eg, look here and here - but that's another story.

There were over 400 musicians and choristes on the stage. I was familiar with the opening and closing movements of the piece known as "O Fortuna" but the other elements were all new to me.. I have to say that much of it was wasted on your correspondent.. in fact, I was enjoying a temporary out-of-body experience during it until Madame woke me up with a well-placed nudge..! Listen to the whole thing here and see what you think:

Tuesday, 19th May. Two things I've been meaning to do here.. The first is to post in date order - with the newest entries at the top.. Don't know why it's taken me so long!

The second is something I've also been meaning to mention here for a long time and that is the difference in the rules in France that govern the use of credit cards (like Visa) compared to how they are managed in the UK - and perhaps elsewhere. 

In the UK, the credit card companies would constantly dangle the benefits of gold and platinum cards in front of me. They were marketed there as indicating not only your financial but also your social status. (Question: why is it that this phrase - non modo... sed etiam- is the only fragment of Latin that remains lodged in some dusty recess of my skull some 55 years after it was embedded there?!)    

* not only..  but also..

Anyway, to continue, I also found that these glittering cards would arrive unasked for and that, unlike my salary, my credit limit was constantly evolving upwards - again, unasked for.. There was never any pressure to post a cheque to pay off the outstanding debt at the end of the month - and why should there have been? (as the credit card companies ratchet up their interest rates on outstanding credit balances and I suspect this is where they make their money.)

Here, as in so many other aspects of life, things are different. At the end of the month, my Visa Carte Bleue* automatically extracts the outstanding balance from my bank account - and running over the line into the red is Streng verboten    here. Simple. No more sleepless nights.. Works for me..

* It's a debit card but my bank account is only debited at the end of the month. I find this approach gives me more peace of mind as I'm not tempted (or allowed!) to let any spending carry over into future months.  

Sunday, 17th May. We had a recommendation from a friend a few weeks ago about La Tantina de la Playa - a fish restaurant that overlooks the sea at Bidart..(just to the south of Biarritz). We thought we'd try and find it yesterday and take a look at its menu. It looked promising so we booked a table for lunch today.

This is not somewhere that you'd find by accident, it being approached via a tangle of narrow roads before finishing up with a winding descent of the cliffs - with the sea within touching distance, front and centre.. (the address for your GPS is Rue de la Plage, 64210 Bidart) There was only limited parking space down below as we found today so after dropping off Madame and the dog, I squeezed through the tight press of manoeuvring cars and went back up the steep road and was lucky to find a vacant spot within the same time zone.. In the height of summer, parking must be a real problem.  

I think the restaurant has been repainted since the above photo was taken - but with the stunning views of the ocean outside, I doubt if many diners would be scrutinising the décor. The restaurant is on the upper floor of an admittedly unattractive concrete building (left) that looks out on the pounding surf below. 

I won't bore you with the details of what we had - suffice to say we'll definitely be returning. All I'd say is that if you are ever in the vicinity and are looking for a great seafood restaurant with a stunning west-facing sea view, La Tantina de la Playa will not disappoint. OK, I did say I wouldn't bore you with the details but this is what we had as a starter (minus the baked potato and tomato):
The only slight downside is that there's no set menu, it's all à la carte. Reviews here. As French diners traditionally vote with their feet, we were reassured by the fact that there wasn't an empty table to be seen.   

If you intend to visit with your current loved one (or soon-to-be loved one) for a 'special' dinner in the evening, the thing to do would be to look at the time of sunset at Bidart (try here - the things I do for you!) and try and book a window table for perhaps 45 minutes earlier.. 


Anonymous said...

Been away for a week and come back to find that one doesn't have to scroll alllll the way down to find (if there is ) a new post. Very Good.
Our MasterCard with CreditAg. is purely a debit card and our a/c falls as soon as the merchant files the paperwork. Originally we signed up to some other arrangement that was costing us a small amount, but too much, a month for the priviledge. Banking in France is not cheap. Lesley

Pipérade said...

I should have changed the batting order years ago - glad my global audience of one approves..!
We have an HSBC Carte Bleue - when I buy something with it, my Carte Bleue a/c records the purchase but our total CB purchases for the month are only debited from our current a/c once a month. There's no charge. Might be worth looking at..

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that once you are resident in France - and not a tax payer in UK - that the banks do not want you to open any account with them. We get lots of 'offers' from our Natwide and Halifax but get to the T&Cs and they don't want to know you other than existing a/cs (and reducing the interest paid on the savings a/c). So I would expect HSBC would turn it's nose up at us!

Pipérade said...

I think it depends on where you have resident status. If you are resident in France, I imagine that any French bank would be glad of your custom..