First a big thank you to vizzygoth, closethipster, and jul3z for the wonderful Christmas cards!
We went Christmas shopping in Soho last week. I thought it would be a nightmare, but it turned into the least stressful Christmas shop I've ever experienced. We went straight to the relatively relaxed Carnaby Street and the area, but avoided Oxford Street like the plague. I managed to find something for everyone on my list at Octopus, Muji, Whittard, and Liberty. We stopped in the Soho bakery for a snack and while in Liberty we bought a bar of Dolfin dark chocolate with green anise seed that was damn tasty.
Max's parents invited us to go to France for the day with them on Saturday. For Christmas and our birthdays they bought us stock in P&O ferries, so cross-channel travel to the mainland is much cheaper for us now. However, they said they would pay for our ferry crossing this time anyway, so how could we refuse? We got up at 5am (after I was only able to sleep 2 hours) and drove down to Dover to meet them. We took the Dover to Calais ferry which I've never done before (usually we take the Portsmouth to Cherbourg/Caen/St. Malo runs). It was shit weather, but what can you expect from the middle of winter? We had coffee and croissant during our 1 /12 hour crossing and arrived in Calais at 12pm local time. Knowing that Calais would be overrun by tourists we drove 20 minutes southwest to Boulogne-sur-Mer and found an Auchan to do our shopping.
The main purpose of this trip was for Max's parents to buy all the food they needed for Christmas (we're spending it in Boston with Max's grandfather this year). They bought boxes of oysters, mussels, cheese, proscuitto, extra wine, beer, a few xmas presents, etc. until their cart was full. We bought merguez (North African lamb sausage), cheese (two locally handmade chèvre (goats cheese), one plain and the other with cracked black pepper, and a wheel of Chaussée aux Moines. French supermarkets are required by law to buy from local farms when they can, I wish all countries had that policy), a six pack of Le Bacasse Kriek (only 4 €), and another of Abbaye de St. Landelin, Dannette aux Poire (chocolate pudding with pear), coffee, pork rillette, chicken stock powder (we always buy ours from France because it isn't uneccessarily packed with salt and herbs), lardon, mussels, a bottle of Gros Plant to cook the mussels in, cassoulet de canard, and a baguette.
After we were finished shopping we drove into the centre of Boulogne to look for a place to eat lunch. We were next to the sea so the wind was bitter cold and the rain freezing. We spotted a brasserie that was open so we parked the car and ran to it all the way. We ducked into the busy brasserie, our waiter smiling at our wet and bedragled appearance. He was around 25-years-old with olive skin and a wry smile. Max and his parents all speak fluent French so they were joking with him and translating what I didn't understand. The waiter and Max's mum seemed to especially hit it off, teasing each other and chatting. He was at first slightly baffled by the mixture of nationalities at the table (French, British, French/British, and American), but he said he had 11 different nationalities in his family so he should be used to it. He was a lot of fun and one of the best waiters I've encoutered, very attentive at the right times. My starter was the Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops with mushrooms in a white wine sauce, grilled in the shell with cheese) and my main course the Moules Homardine (mussels with lobster sauce). To finish we all had shots of warming espresso before braving the cold again. The Coquilles Saint-Jacques was beautiful (I was wiping the shell clean with my bread to get every last drop).
We caught the ferry back to Dover just as a storm was rolling in. There were enormous waves on the channel which made the immense ferry shake and roll so much that no one could stand up at times. There was a friendly Malaysian couple sitting next to me and the poor woman giggled nervously until she had to run to the bathroom twice. A little girl on the other side of the room was sick all over her mother. I'm not easily phased by rough waters (I grew up on the water and am fairly used to it) so I caught up on some sleep. :)
The man below was checking for asylum seekers in everyones' trunks (boots). His accent sounded exactly like Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther and when we rolled up the window we couldn't help bursting into laughter.
We arrived back in London at 8pm. We were so full from lunch still that for dinner we only had the pepper goats cheese and Chaussée aux Moines with some baguette and I drank one of my krieks while Max had an abbaye. The goats cheese was soooo fucking good, seriously one of the best. We ate 3/4s of the merguez for lunch yesterday, simply grilled with a baguette and fresh Tunisian harissa. Last night we cooked the mussels moules marinier stylee and tonight we'll use the rest of the merguez to cook a Couscous Royale (with more harissa!)
We also watched Iris Sat. night...
"We all worry about going mad. How would we know, those of us that live in our minds anyway?" - Iris
... and finally got around to watching our dvd of Hana-bi by and starring Takeshi `Beat' Kitano last night. I'm looking forward to Takeshi's upcoming film, Zatoichi
The Japanese title translates into 'Fireworks", but if you look further into the basis of the Japanese character for 'fireworks', you will see that it is composed of two smaller words-- 'fire' and 'flower'. And like the linguistic basis of the title, the story and style of "Hana-Bi" is the synthesis of two opposing images, one being an agent of destruction, and the other a symbol of birth and renewal.
A Day in the life of atlaz and nomi:
"What do you want to to today?"
"I don't know. I'm bore"
"Let's stop by the post office in the morning, go to the thai place for lunch, and drive to France for the afternoon"
"Oh, don't forget to buy some kriek and some mussels. You know how I love writing about them in my LJ and watch Ben gets annoyed"
"Hahaha sounds good. Poor bastard is stuck in Amerikkka"
yes, yours was the first to arrive. thanks so much! :)
I only had time to send cards out to family this xmas, but I think I'll send out some-obscure-holiday-cards to friends to make up for it.
Thank you, hope you have a lovely xmas too!
damn, I spaced that out completely, sorry about that! I'd still love to see the card if you would be willing to send it? I just sent our address to "steve AT gramheavy DOT org DOT uk", not sure if that's the right email address though.