Saturday, July 31, 2010

French Wines

I grew up in South Australia's Wine Country, and have always been impartial to a visit to the wineries in Australia. I have done some wine tasting in California too, but in my trips to france I've not yet arranged any local wine tastings at the wineries (although have enjoyed lovely French wine in the restaraunts of France). So I'm left to try the French wines imported to Australia. So on this, the last weekend of Paris in July, I'm treating myself to some wine from Les Vignobles Francaise. I started last night with a bottle of Paul Mas 2008 Merlot from le Pays D'Oc, in the departement of Languedoc in the south of France.

It was a really nice fruity red with the depth and richness I needed on a cold wintery night home alone. As I sat back to enjoy the wine with my simple meal of steamed home grown veggies, I searched out a little information about Paul Mas. I discovered he is a wine maker I already knew. He makes a very affordable and drinkable range called the Arrogant Frog (or in English here). We have this quite a bit at our French classes - and we just love the label design.
Looking around the Paul Mas websites, I enjoyed the chance to read the french, but even more so, loved the pictures I found. There's something ever so regal about the french wine aristocracy. Don't you just love this Chateau? and it's location is just stunning....
So while I'm not in France, but wishing to enjoy a little bit of la vie Francaise, I'll keep a bottle of Paul Mas close at hand, and dream of the day I can actually visit the wineries of South France.

Next week however, I have to make a presentation to my French class about somewhere I'd like to visit in France, and I will be presenting the Champagne Region and cooking a little Champagne Jelly as presented by Gabriel Gate on the Taste of the Tour for Stage 4 of this years Tour de France. I might share some of my presentation here later next week..

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Fill-ins #187

Picture from Fifi Flowers (Click on picture to see more)
This is the last weekend of Paris in July

1. I'm going down the garden to dig worms. (does anyone know where that saying comes from?)
1. (alternative) I'm going to post something in French this weekend.
2. I would like it very much if people use these words to describe me one day - adventure and daring.
3. Perhaps today you can make it a point to do something special for someone in need.
4. We all have a little of the true adventurer’s spirit. (we just need to find it and let it out)
5. Compassion is Love in action.
6. I have some goals I will pursue - no matter how difficult.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a glass of French wine, tomorrow my plans include morning tea with a girlfriend to talk gardening, and Sunday, I want to find a special place just for me and my writing.

Check out Friday Fill-ins for more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Interpreter of Maladies

Pulitzer Prize winner in 2000, Jhumpa Lahiri is truly a great story teller. I have really enjoyed these short stories of Indian people in different places experiencing life and new cultures.

Other bloggers provide great reviews, like Chasing Bawa, Bookbath, and Anuradha Goyal. And google books has also posted segments of the book here. But for me, my love for these stories stems largely from my love and interest in the Indian people.

I have volunteered in a small school in the south of India a couple of times now, and I just love what I do there. I love working with the girls in the school and teaching them more about the world we live in. I think there's something about these short stories that I can relate to because of my experiences in India.

I enjoyed the story 'When Mr Pirzada came to dine' because, in this story, the author demonstrated the mixed hope for new life in a new place, and the distress and grief of leaving the place where family remains. Mr Pirzada found another immigrant Indian family to visit with and to remain connected with the culture he was most comfortable in. Mr Pirzada played a role in teaching the young girl in the house more about the place where her family came from. In the end, Mr Pirzada's returned to India to be with his family.

I also quite liked the last story ' The third and final continent'. the young man who moves from India, to the UK and then to the US, all the while supporting himself while he gets his education. He develops a connection with his elderly land lady, based on the respect you see in many Indian families for their elders. I think I liked this short story because it seemed like he was motivated for change and new things, but he didn't change all things to become 'American'. He remained Indian in his ways.

I found this a great read, just like I enjoyed Unaccustomed Earth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Paris in July - Week 3 Wrap Up

Wow, time is just flying - we must be having fun! We're now celebrating week 3 of Paris in July, and tonight, as I watch the final stage of the Tour de France coming into the Champs Elysees, I have the job of capturing a glimpse of what's been happening in blogging world this week.

I must say, it's been a blast - visiting all your blogs, and being reminded of great travel memories, being introduced to new travel destinations, being encouraged to read classic and new novels, and being informed about new movies - all based in France or Paris. I'm loving it....

In summary - I've discovered posts in the following broad categories
  1. Book reviews - La Fievre, Celui qui m'accompagnait pas, Mrs Harris goes to Paris, Farewell, The most beautiful book in the world, Parisians - an adventure history of Paris, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and Between Meals - an appetite for Paris.
  2. Movie reviews - 2 days in Paris, and Funny Face, a Little Romance, and An American in Paris
  3. Holiday Memories from Chat Noir, Chasing Bawa, The Literary Stew, The Marmalade Gypsy, and Timeless Romance
  4. Other ideas - Cooking and the Tour de France, and Matisse on Exhibition.
I'd like to make a special mention of My Spring Show - because she has posted a great post on 'things I learnt from Paris in July'. Also the Literary Stew, who actually went to Paris in July and visited some foody places. Timeless Romance has continued to post each week on her trip to France and has taken us all along the journey with her.

And the winner this week (drawn from a hat) is Anni from Almost Insider.
Felicitations Anni!
Next week Karen at Bookbath will be doing the Wrap Up post - so keep up the amazing contributions, and I look forward to what's next!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday Fill-ins #186

1. I feel, somtimes, that the world is moving too fast,
2. and I'm always trying to catch up.
3. Do I keep trying, or find my own pace?
4. After all, I am completely unique.
5. It's hard to know how much effort other people put in,
6. Who else follows suit.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to visiting friends in Canberra, tomorrow my plans include a bike ride and watching the tour de france, and Sunday, I want to shop!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goats Cheese Tart - French Food

Last weekend my friends and I had plans to celebrate (belatedly) Bastille Day with a feast. I was in charge of the champagne, entree and desert, and my friend was in charge of the vin rouge, main meal and after dinner cheese. So I searched of a typically french Bastille recipe. So I decided on these items:
My friend choose to provide
  • A South Australian Silver Label Shiraz (cant remember the Wine Maker, but it was very complimentary)
  • Coq au vin avec legumes - a very rich and deeply flavoursome full meal
  • Blue Costello and Jindi Brie with crackers.
Traditionally in France, Bastille Day is a summer celebration, and often a day time activity. So celebrating in Australia means we need to find food that suits a winter evening meal. I think between us, we were able to achieve a great feast - only outdone by the great company and superb conversation.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coco avant Chanel (DVD)

'When a woman cuts her hair, she's about the change her life'
Wow, this quote will stick in my memory for a while - I don't think Coco wanted the change she got that day (she lost the love of her life), but what followed turned out to be a life to be celebrated.The DVD cover reads
From rags to riches to haute-couture: the incredible story of Coco Chanel. In a remarkable tour de force portrayal, the lovely Audrey Tautou becomes the legendary style icon Coco Chanel. From her humble beginnings at a French country orphanage to the extravagant heights of Parisian society. Chanel's indomitable creative spirit was expressed as a dance hall singer, seamstress, social rebel and fashion icon. Benoit Poelvoorde and Alessandro Nivola portray the men of wealth and elegance infatuated with the multi-faceted Coco Chanel, whose vision and style - inspired by fashion and fueled by passion - paved a daring new way for modern women to look, dress and live their lives
For me, this story was inspiring, challenging and amazing. I actually knew nothing about Coco Chanel before watching this. In fact, I was probably anti Chanel as a big name in fashion, an industry that often counter acts everything I believe in environmentally. But I have learnt something new - Coco Chanel survived to live a dream, achieve amazing heights, because she believed in her self, did not accept the every day rules set out for her, and she made her own rules. This makes her a hero for me.

The movie was also exceptionally made, nothing was amiss, a mon avis, from cinematography, scenery, costumes and the acting. Audrey, encore, performs impeccably and stunningly. I love the way she can say so much, with so few words, just with her eyes.

On my DVD I also have some extra features, of which I really enjoyed the actors and other parts of the movie team talking about the research they had to do to get it all right.

A great movie, and even better if you can watch it in french , sans subtitles. Highly recommended for Paris in July.... Dont forget to visit Karen's blog to see this weeks round up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fill-ins #185

Tour de France in the mountains

1. This is what life does. It lets you gasp at the beauty that surrounds you.
2. What would it take for you to stop to appreciate the moment?
3. Upon reflection, Paris in July is still a good idea. (and not too late to join)
4. Lets hope the new BP oil well cap lasts for quite a long time.
5. Later, you wake up and wonder what just happened?
6. What would lead you to use this in a sentence - to the far and boundless sea.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to him cooking dinner while I blog, tomorrow my plans include a bike ride and gardening and Sunday, I want to celebrate (belatedly) Bastille Day with my French Friends.
Friday Fill-ins

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Gourmet - Muriel Barbey

I read the Elegance of the Hedgehog last year as part of the Lost in Translation Challenge, and I loved it. So when I saw this at the book shop a month ago I knew I had to read it for Paris in July.

For one thing - I love a short book. But beside that, I thoroughly enjoyed this little story. The inside cover says
'France's greatest food critic is dying, after a lifetime in single-minded pursuit of sensual delights. But as Pierre Arthens lies on his deathbed, he is tormented by an inability to recall the most delicious food to ever pass his lips, which he ate long before becoming a critic. Desperate to taste it one more time, he looks back over the year to see if he can pin down the elusive dish.'
I found it interesting that in the early stages of the book it was about searching for the food, however I noticed a change, as the food critic reflected on his life - he was thinking more and more about his life experiences, the relationships he had in his life. I wonder if he was looking for that elusive experience of love. This is an interesting concept for this arrogant and self centred french foodie. His wife was devoted to him, but he couldn't see her as anything but a beautiful piece of art. His children were desperate for his attention, but he had nothing but intolerance toward them. Any wonder he was 'alone' in the end - searching for a flavour..

Despite the lead characters personality, the author did a fabulous job at describing him, his family, and his mission. One particular chapter I loved was that dedicated to bread. The narrator, Pierre Arthens, is recalling childhood memories of days at the beach. These words so eloquently describe my own experiences;
We were breathless; it was time to leave the beach. The day had already seemed both deliciously short and long. The shoreline at this point, a long sandy arc stretching lazily into the distance and devoured by waves, offered us the most heedless of swims, with the maximum of pleasure and the minimum of risk. Since morning, with my cousins, we had been diving over and over into the breakers, or taking flight from their crests, breathless, inebriated from the endless rollers....
Now, tell me you didn't just disappear into your own childhood memories of the beach?
I don't usually eat bread in my daily life, however, his recollection of bread can bust any restricted dieter... I wont quote it here, but I'd highly recommend this little book! It was both a tour through the sensual experiences of eating and tasting, but also a lovely journey into aspects of the vie Parisienne.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Paris in July - Week 1 Review

The River Seine. One of the most romantic rivers in the world.

Following the Seine through Paris is a way of enjoying a thousand different escapades on the river, its bridges and islands. Daytime or night time, Left Bank or Right Bank, you will appreciate the buzz of activity along the quaysides and the lapping of the waves. There are any number of ways to relax – aboard a boat, cycling, walking briskly, sauntering lazily, or working out, dining, dancing on barges, exploring an area between two exhibitions, taking a post-shopping break, or sunbathing in a swimsuit. You never fail to be filled with wonder at these riverbanks, classed as a world heritage site by Unesco.

When I thought about the massive task of reviewing the first week of Paris in July, I just didn't know where to start. But as I was thinking about the magic of Paris, and all the mysteries that lay hidden in her alley ways, tunnels, history and architecture, I thought about the Seine. The river that runs through Paris, and is famed for it's bridges. My job this week has been to wander along a river like the Seine, crossing the bridges between our blogs to discover new and wonderful aspects of Paris and our love of this city. Thank you for being a part of creating this journey.With now over 35 participants, and still gaining, I found some 25 reviews this past week dedicated to the celebration of Paris. Lakeside Musing made reference to a quote that I really quite liked:
There's been so much said and written about Pars that it's daunting to hazard a statement of my own; that city just has something about it. I cant think of another place so idealized, so longed for, so sighed over... (Molly Wisenberg, p161-162)

Regardless of the daunting task - many of us have made a start. Each of us celebrates in a different way, and our posts have been as varied as our walks of life, and our geographic locations. We've had posts on the Tour de France, Tomato Tarts, computers that have turned to speaking french (???), French painters, current affairs in Paris, music we love, and Ladies of the Court of Paris. We've had book reviews, quotes from from classic french authors, fashion reviews, dvd and movie reviews, and my personal favourite - reflections and memories of our own travels to the wonderful city from Amy, Chat Noir, Mrs B, Sabrina, and ds. A highlight for many of us was Dolce Bellezza's post from her mother with memories of Paris.

Books reviewed this past week have included: Cheri by Collette, Murder in the Palais Royal, Monsieur Pain, Therese Raquin by Emile Zola, the French Mistress, French Milk, le Gran Meaulres, Suite Francaise, That Mad Ache, For the Kings, Luncheon of the boating party, le voyage de Barbar, and Le Petit Prince.

DVD's reviewed have included: Priceless, Seraphine, Sabrina and Paris J'taime.

So the Winner this week (drawn from a hat cos it's just too difficult any other way) is......
Sara at Wordy evidence of the fact
Felicitations Sara!

Now for Week 2 - Karen will post a review next weekend and wishing you all a happy Bastille Day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Le Tour de France - Part 1

Cadel Evans - currently overall No 3 in the Tour.

July is le mois de le tour de France..... and in our house, this means one of us stays up to watch (usually him) each stage - which is showing on SBS between 10pm and 2 am. This year we're being treated to a great Australian representation - with 11 Aussies starting the race, and currently 10 still in. We're just so excited that Cadel is up there in the top 3 - this is something we've been dreaming of for a couple of years. Maybe even a win coming up????? It leaves us hoping that an Aussie will be in the front of the race in 2011, when we will be there to watch it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

L'Opera de Paris Garnier

What a wonderful week it's been - everyday I've visited another blog celebrating Paris in July with us, and every day I am reminded of the wonders of this amazing city of lights. I thought I would dedicate this post to L'Opera de Paris - an architectural symbol of the grand old city.

Each time we've visited Paris, we've used this gorgeous site as a meeting point, a reference point for navigating the city. It wasn't until our last visit in 2007 that we actually went inside for a tour - WOW!!! it was amazing.... Gorgeous. I just had to make enough noise to see if it echoed, but it's such a classic building, it seemed wrong to make too much noise. .....Once inside I could really sense the mystery of the famous 'Phantom of the Opera'
A great DVD to get out this weekend!

Paris in July has started with a huge week of blogging activity (which is a small problem given I have to post this weekends summary!). But the activity I've witnessed so far has been fantastic. There are posts about books, DVD's, food, holidays, the Tour de France, women of Paris, perfume, mothers and memories...... the options are endless. I am really looking forward to doing my review this weekend, and finding the first week winner!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sweetness of Paris in July

Paris in July is warm, yummy, and sweet. There's nothing better than a french patisserie to to remind you of the delights of Paris in July.

Here in Australia, it's far from Summer now, but there are opportunities to remember Paris here. I recently had the chance to treat myself to a french cake at our local equivalent to La Laduree, the Euro Patisserie. While not quite the glamour of the Laduree on the Champs Elysees, the cakes are pretty reminiscent of my experiences of Paris.

Welcome to Paris in July, a blogging experience. Share with us how your celebrating Paris in July and you'll be in the running for a prize.... Karen and I are really excited you're joining us on this journey.