Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The world's greatest mac and cheese

Well, this is now official, the macaroni and cheese my wife found out in a Rose Elliot book is really the greatest macaroni and cheese in the whole world. Well, I am exaggerating, what I mean is that we made it during the Christmas holidays to my family and they loved it. It was strange, because we didn't do it so well on that occasion. But it impressed my parents enough to try it for themselves. We had given them the recipe, which you can find on this post. My mum used Cracker Barrel cheese on top. Anyway, for no better reason that it now crossed the Atlantic and it was a roaring success in the family, I am plugging it again, with a picture my father took of their version. This is, in my opinion, the world's greatest mac and cheese.

Les neiges saguenéennes

Mon père m'a envoyé des photos de l'hiver au Saguenay. J'ai décidé de les partager, à commencer par celle-ci. Je sais que je n'y suis pour rien, mais j'ai quand même un sentiment de fierté quand je vois une photo pareille. J'ai quand même grandi avec des hivers comme celui-ci.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Longing for long train journeys

This picture was taken on the steamed train line between Dartmouth and Paignton. It was not nearly as nice as the other steamed train line we traveled on, because we went through it we barely saw Dartmouth which seemed lovely and Paignton is one of the tackiest, tasteless towns I ever saw in my life, but anyway, it illustrates this post's topic. And it allows me to publish another photo of my holidays.

So yes, as it happens sometimes, I am longing for long train journeys. I commute daily in trains, but a twenty minutes commute to go to work, while pleasant enough as it is quick, is hardly a way to truly appreciate the train as a mean of transport. I want to travel by train and to travel for leisure. I have some holidays coming in the next few months, so I might get my wish. We'll see. What I love with train travels, when they are comfortable, is that the journey in itself is an experience. I don't think any other mean of transport, except maybe the boat, can provide such feeling.

Je manque la tempête du siècle

Je parle bien entendu de la tempête qui frappe le Nord-Est américain. Bon je sais, jusqu'ici ça ne frappe pas Montréal et j'ai regardé les prévisions et il semblerait que mon village sera épargné. Tout de même, je n'ai pas eu mon quota de neige cette année et j'aimerais bien avoir une tempête de neige à vivre.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mysterious basements

Fellow blogger Jaz from October Farm has recently blogged a series of posts about her "ugly" basement and all the stuff that is in it. This made me think of the basements I experienced in my life: mainly the one of my grandmother's house, which I blogged about extensively here and the one of my parents' house, where was/is my bedroom.  The basement in many houses is basically a clutter room, but at home it was and is big enough to be a floor of its own (and i know in architecture technically the basement is not a "floor" but there you go). We had many rooms in it, including the living room where the TV was, the table where we played D&Dr, by a fairly large library, a computer room, a tool room, my own bedroom and at least two storage rooms: one with a freezer and a wine cellar, another one, the "cold room", divided into two sub-rooms, one for other food (during Christmastime especially) and drinks and one mainly for logs for the fireplaces.

The basement in my parents' place is much bigger than the basement in my grandmother's house was, but it was not as mysterious: there was no "secret passage" in it. Nevertheless, it had/has its fair share of mystery: the cold room which we did not have the right to spend time in as children because it had to stay cold all year long and we could not keep the door open had all the mystery of forbidden places, the fireplace was made of rough stones and looked primitive, as if it belonged to another age (in our make belief games it was often the entry of a dragon's cave, or a castle) and well, there were plenty of old stuff, old books and memorabilia to feed our imagination We spent many rainy days, cold days, heatwave days in the basement without being bored. So I have a fondness for basements and what we can discover in them.

Boire au Second Cup

Cette photo date de notre dernier séjour à Montréal. Ma femme et moi avons pris un café (mocha ou cappucino pour elle) et un chocolat chaud (pour moi, car je déteste le café) sur le Second Cup sur Mont-Royal, celui près du métro. Le passage au Second Cup est un arrêt obligé lorsque nous séjournons à Montréal. Et je me demande à chaque fois si c'est pas quétaine un peu. J'en ferai peut-être une question existentielle (en passant il n'y a pas de réponse aux deux dernières). Cela dit, quétaine ou pas, le Second Cup est un élément assez typique du paysage urbain montréalais, alors il faut bien que je lui rende un peu hommage rien que pour ça. Boire au Second Cup est toujours une expérience plaisante, malgré toute sa réputation de café quétaine bon pour les anglos. Et puis leurs chocolats chauds sont quand mêmes bien décadents.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Piano Man

It is Saturday night and I thought about uploading a song. This one came to my mind easily: it was about Saturday nights, drinking and it has a lovely melancholic feel. I am talking of course about Piano Man by Billy Joel. It may be the only song by Billy Joel I genuinely love. I first listened to it sung by a rep in a musical summer camp when I was a child. Loved it then, love it now. I am actually surprised it took me that long to have it here on this blog.

Question existentielle (252)

Une question existentielle que je tenais à poser avant la fin du mois:

-Que représente le mois de janvier pour vous?

Crowthorne (!)

Crowthorne is the name of a village and civil parish in Berkshire. I have never been there, however my wife and I drove through it a couple of times. The name struck me and I have developed a sort of obsession about the village. I never stopped in Crowthorne, but I want to go there one day, if only for one afternoon. The name mixes two things with sinister overtone: a crow and a thorn. It is the name of a place that belongs to a horror story, or a village in a Dungeons & Dragons setting. reading through its Wikipedia entry, the village seems to have little history. All the same, it deserves one, if imaginary. So I am very tempted to stop in Crowthorne to have a proper feel of the place and its atmosphere.

Relire L'ostie d'chat

Parfois, c'est bien de relire des bouquins qu'on avait déjà lus. C'est mon cas ces temps-ci: je relis L'ostie d'chat, pour la énième fois. Bon, je ne le relis pas au complet: je passe les bouts qu'y m'accrochent moins et je me concentre sur mes épisodes préférés. Je crois que les circonstances se prêtent à une relecture pour deux raisons: 1)je l'ai découvert vraiment il y a un an et 2)quand je m'ennuie de Montréal, ça me remet un peu du mal du pays. Je trouve le dessin et l'atmosphère authentiques: la bédé incarne vraiment bien Montréal. Oh et petit bonus: j'ai vu qu'il y avait des "Easter eggs" cachés dans les archives, des épisodes indépendants hommages, enfin des fanfics, créés par d'autres artistes. Enfin bref, je termine ce billet avec un dessin de mon alter ego Jean-Seb. Qui me ressemble beaucoup sur cette image.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Bagels: the pride of Montreal


I know I blogged about bagels very recently, but I had to do it again, as Montreal received recently an homage from comic book artist Stephan Pastis in his Pearls Before Swine comic strip: we make the best bagels in the world. Well, I knew that already. Better than New York even? Well, of course. Hands down. Eat your heart out, Big Apple. Apparently, Pastis went to St-Viateur Bagel. This is where I first discovered bagels. I mean I had some before, but this was a revelation to me.I could not believe eating something this simple yet this good. I said it very often on this blog: the bagels saved me from starvation back in the days when I was studying there, and then in the years I spent working and living in what remains my favourite city. Bagels are the best Montreal offered to the gastronomical world. Not because it is originally from Montreal, I read Pearls Before Swine sometimes in the train going to work, because Metro publishes it. I always thought he was funny, but it was just something I read for a quick laugh. I will now read it far more eagerly. Obviously, Pastis is a man of taste. And to finish this post, I invite you to watch this video, about the homage the owners of St-Viateur did to the homage they received.

Le petit monsieur pas de cou

C'est vendredi, alors je passe pour célébrer un peu d'humour, la chanson humoriste absurde doublée d'un numéro comique de Bruno Blanchet à La fin du monde est à 7 jeures. Tout le monde de ma génération reconnaîtra, je crois, le pauvre petit monsieur pas de cou.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Don't go to Madagascar

The things we learn during conversation at work sometimes... Yesterday, we were talking about exotic places to visit on holiday and for some reason one of my colleagues mentioned that Madagascar was now considered such a dangerous place that it was strongly advised not to travel there. I checked on the Foreign Office website and it is indeed terrifying: political instability still rampant after a coup d'état in 2009, widespread crime, explosions due to civil unrest, even some foreigners set on fire. I used to think it was a quiet little tropical paradise, I even remember meeting people from there in my first year studying in England. Nice, pleasant people. But no, it looks like heaven, but it is pretty much hell. So here it is, don't go to Madagascar.

La Joufflue (microbrasserie Archibald)

J'ai expliqué récemment que j'allais essayer des bière de la microbrasserie Archibald, notamment parce que c'est le nom de famille du côté de ma mère, aussi parce que bon, c'est une mcirobrasserie québécoise. J'ai commencé par la Joufflue, une bière blanche de type belge. Notamment parce que je suis moins amateur de bières blanches de type belge, j'ai pensé essayer celle qui m'intéressait le moins au départ. Ma femme trouvais que la bière avait l'air d'un jus de fruit. Elle n'a pas tort. Je l'ai prise à l'apéritif et en effet, c'est une bière d'apéritif. Elle se boit facilement, sans doute plus facilement encore l'été, mais elle ne m'a pas laissé un souvenir impérissable. Je pense que côté bières de type belge, je préfère encore les produits Unibroue, mais ça a peut-être plus à voir avec la nostalgie.

Un mot avant de terminer sur la canette: tant l'illustration de la fille aux joues prohéminentes, la typographie que le contenant lui-même font très rétro. Disons années 50-60. Je me trompe? Étrange, parce qu'on ne buvait pas de bières belges à l'époque au Québec. Ou, je le soupçonne, dans beaucoup d'autres pays que la Belgique. Et la fille ressemble assez à certaines Belges que j'ai rencontrées dans ma vie, mais peut-être que c'est mon imagination qui travaille trop. Cela dit, quel nom pour une microbrasserie!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tesco calls them bagels...

This weekend, my wife and I went to shop in Tesco. In the bakery section, there were these so-called bagels. I could not believe it. They looked so surreal, I had to take a picture. My wife said I was embarrassing. I replied: "They are embarrassing to sell them." This is, I think, a great unknown line. Then, I published the picture on Facebook, because such travesty has to be named and shamed. I wrote: "Tesco calls them bagels. I call them cardboard doughnuts." This deserves to be another great unknown line. Anyway, as a guy from Montreal, who survived starvation thanks to quality bagels, these are a crime against gastronomy.

À la lumière de la chandelle

C'est devenu une sorte de rituel le soir: ma femme et moi on allume une chandelle. Ces temps-ci, c'est souvent une chandelle de Yankee Candle. C'est tant pour l'odeur de la flamme et et de la cire qui fond que pour l'effet relaxant de la flamme. Pour l'odeur, cela dit, je ne suis pas certain d'être fan des parfums des produits Yankee Candle. Ca fait un peu quétaine. Mais bon, c'est quand même bien plaisant. Je faisais souvent brûler une chandelle dans ma chambre durant mes années au cégep et à l'université. Je renoue donc avec une vieille tradition.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cat's warmth

You want to know about a sweet bit of news that will make you go: "aaawww"? It did make me feel all fuzzy inside and gave me back some faith in... well, not in mankind, but in the world as a whole. It is of course about my favorite species of the animal kingdom: the cat. Not these two. The two on the picture are Fiyero and Bustopher, they are the cats of the friends of my wife, who live in Derbyshire. But they make for a great visual companion for this post. And it is also an excuse to upload another picture of cats.

So what is that bit of news? You may have read/heard of it already, but here it is: a stray cat has saved an abandoned baby from freezing in Russia. In Russia. Which means, during Russian winter. Not as nasty of where I come from, Russian winters, but they don't have the same heating system in Russia. It is a rough place. A cruel place too. And a cat saved a baby from freezing to death. This bit of news remind me why I never think of cats as cold and distant creatures: they are caring, sometimes far more than our fellow primates. This one could certainly gives lessons of empathy. Cats are superior creatures, intellectually and now I am tempted to think morally as well. Anyway, it is a sweet bit of news.

À moitié inspiré...

Il y a pire que de ne pas être inspiré pour bloguer, lorsqu'on écrit un blogue bilingue, comme celui-ci: c'est être à moitié inspiré. Je veux dire que j'ai l'idée d'un billet en anglais mais pas en français. C'est pire dans ce cas-là, parce que j'écris toujours le billet en français en premier. Je vous imagine dire: "mais écris le billet en français et tu publieras autre chose"... sauf que ça ne fonctionne pas comme ça: certains sujets me viennent plus facilement en tête en anglais, d'autres en français. Parfois ce sont pour des raisons culturelles: mon récent billet sur Samedi-Jeunes par exemple, puisque ça parle d'un épisode de l'histoire télévisuelle québécoise. D'autres fois ce sont pour des raisons plus arbitraires. Mais enfin bref, je me trouve souvent en manque d'inspiration pour un billet plutôt que deux. Alors voilà, j'ai songé en faire un billet. Mise en abyme. Avouez que je suis habile.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Tragedy at work

Well, I am exaggerating of course. I hope nobody worried reading this title. It was not exactly a tragedy, but it certainly makes a day more difficult, more painful as well, as I need my cuppa tea and I need it quickly. Tea is an essential part of my mornings at work, it is the fuel my body works on, it is essential to my survival and well being. I have Earl Grey because it is supposed to give energy. Hence, I need boiling water ready to pour. But that day, the boiler was out of order. So I had to do it the slow way, using the kettle that you do not see on the picture. It is slow, boiling water with a kettle. It is certainly not ideal when you are about to have your quick tea fix.

Mafalda et la croyance

C'est lundi, afin de nous faire oublier la grisaille du premier jour de la semaine, je publie ici un gag de Mafalda. Un gag qui nous rappelle que ça pourrait être pire pour beaucoup d'entre nous: on pourrait être encore élève à la petite école. Je trouve que Quino se moque d'ailleurs souvent du monde de l'éducation par le biais de son héroïne. Je me trompe? Les enseignants sont tous un brin bêtes, le programme semble être un ramassi de clichés, ça me rappelle un peu beaucoup l'école de mon enfance. Surtout que nous étions pas mal croyants. Et je me trompe peut-être, mais je crois que ce gag est une critique voilée de la foi en général et la foi catholique en particulier.