mac phoenix …

My Mac Mini is back in action … the doctors could not revive the dead hard drive so it was back to square one for my WordPress blog – an experience almost as painful as the chronic abdominal cramps of recent nights from my errant gall-stone(s). They say Revenge is a dish best served cold, and before I am through stuffing it with new chores (e.g. Asterisk PBX, CCTV, Media Streamer etc), my Mini will be wishing it had been reborn as sushi.

Navigation to the fixed menu pages is still a known problem, as are categories … but please bear with me. Torture is only pleasurable when there is no prospect of surrender 😉

Advertisements

le beaujolais est arrivé …

Which my very delayed Eurostar train to Paris wasn’t doing, and I also didn’t buy the explanation that we had been diverted to an alternative route to France. Sorry, but when exactly did they dig a 2nd tunnel under the English Channel …

So, the first wines of 2005, led by the (infamous) Beaujolais Nouveau are here … and tasting surprisingly well, helped to a small extent by the additional sunshine in September, and thus negated the need for chaptalisation – the dubious practice of topping up an otherwise insipid and/or unbalanced wine with sugar. Traditionally the 3rd Thursday in November is the day when the first AOC wines of Beaujolais can be sold as ‘Nouveau’, sometimes called ‘Primeur’. The purpose of my long week-end in Paris was to shadow my friend David (also closet wine buff), for tutored tastings around the capital, and ultimately to be persuaded that this region is capable of producing serious wines. I suppose if success is to be measured in bottled purchases, then my laden rucksack on the return journey is witness to my conversion.

My adventure began at Caves Taillevent (an annex to the chic restaurant located on 199 rue du Fauboug Saint-Honoré) where we tasted a Beaujolais Nouveau by Jean-Charles Pivot, a reputable producer and brother of cultural TV personality Bernard Pivot. While the wine was nothing to write home about, we were otherwise amused when one of the staff hid David’s Lavinia (a competitor) bag from view of other customers! Dinner afterwards at the Bistro Quatre Saison across the road was surprisingly tasty – my marcassin (young wild boar) was juicy and tender as expected and carried the subtlest hint of gaminess that is such a welcoming flavour this time of year when the weather outside is chilling to the bone. When we reached Mélac’s some minutes after midnight, the revellers had already spewed out on to the street. Once again, the wine (a generic Henry Fessy) was barely noteworthy but we observed with some amusement the glass-littered pavement where others had not quite mastered the skill of balancing bottles and glasses on the top of the poubelles (bins) provided. We closed that evening’s celebrations at La Muse Vin, tasting a Touraine Nouveau (also made from the Gamay grape) which also did not leave a lasting impression. The music however was very boogie-able, and naturally we took advantage of the cheese selection included in the droit d’entrée.

Friday’s highlights included a late morning shop at the Popincourt Market in the 11e arrondissement to buy cheeses from the Beaujolais region to accompany David’s dégustation ensemble on Saturday evening, lunch at Casa Joe’s near Bastille (we ate cheap but agreeable pasta from cardboard cartons!) and finally a visit to the caviste Bossetti where we tasted our first Cru wines of Beaujolais – a Morgon, from the Domaine des Nugues. For me, this was the defining moment of transformation – just like a larva that has metamorphosised into something more refined and beautiful, the Cru wines of Beaujolais bear little or no resemblance to the generic B.N. despite sharing the same genetic code of the Gamay grape. David has written a very informative piece on the wines of Beaujolais, and I shall be seeking his permission to have it published here in the near future. Later that evening, we visited a péniche (sort of a floating gastronomic fair) hosted on one of the Maxim’s boats on the river Seine. Here, I discovered a sparkling chardonnay from the Domaine Dupeuble, simply labeled as mousseux because under the draconian appelation laws, it cannot be called Cremant de Beajolais because the latter is already an AOC. This wine allegedly beat Veuve Clicquot in a blind tasting, but with hindsight perhaps that’s not such a great achievement 😉

On Saturday, we headed for the Charonne Market for some last minute purchases and stopped over at Mélac’s for a delicious lunch. With our stomachs lined, we embarked on our public tastings for the afternoon, dropping first into Lavinia to perform the mis en bouteille (see photo) of another BN from Domaine Cambon with help from the very likable Jean-Claude Chanudet. Afterwards we revisited Bossetti where I made my greatest discovery of the week-end, and confirmed by the tasting at David’s apartment later that evening: La Roche, a Moulin-à-Vent (one of the 10 Crus of the region) from Château des Jacques by Louis Jadot, the négociant from Beaune. David describes the wines from Château des Jacques as the Romanée-Conti of Beaujolais, and I totally agree. At less than 20 Euro a bottle, this is an absolute steal and will give a Burgundy from a respectable producer costing three times the price, a good run for the money. Really. But it wasn’t until David swapped business cards that we realised we were in the presence of the very modest Baron Guillaume de Curières de Castelnau himself … in the flesh! And like the gregarious Monsieur Chanudet, he too was generous enough to invite us to visit his chateaux at our convenience.

With time, my passion for French wines has evolved beyond sensual appreciation into a deep respect for people like Jean-Claude and Baron Guillaume, whose understanding of terroir and patience to impart their knowledge of the black art of viticulture to Joe Public continue to egg on enthusiasts like David and me to delve into the secrets that lie beyond the label on the bottle. Because every bottle of wine has a story – not least of all, the humble Beaujolais.

Update: David has kindly allowed me to publish his write up on Beaujolais – you lucky people can now access it from here (in PDF format).

thematic attraction …

It’s official – sexual blogging (henceforth to be referred to as ‘slogging’ – Copyright (C) 2005 by pip) is en vogue. And infectious too. A few days after bumping into Sash’s blog, my virtual promiscuity carried me into the contrived continuum of Sarong Party Girl – yet another lurid den of inequity where the literary kimono is thrown wide open to such explicit extremities as to leave nothing to the imagination … down to the bit when vaginal blood was drawn, one assumes from rough and excessive humping.

It is perhaps a little churlish of me to comment on the motives of those who ‘slog’ – afterall, ‘Kiss & Tell’ is an extremely saleable genre at the moment, as the book ratings for Diary of a Manhatten Call Girl self-testify. Plus it would be far too hypocritical (even for me) to deny that I derive no pleasure from reading about the bedtime pursuits of the sexually emancipated female. And at this point, I should also like to declare a discernable sway towards works that carry off ‘chick wit’, rather than the multitude of hormone-busting tomes that carry on the hackneyed form of ‘chick lit’. But I digress …

Anyway, the new blogging currency is traffic … people are mad for it, many crave it for their blogs, and some I daresay, even venture into the land of fiction to secure the statistical nirvana of the most links, the highest number of referrals and the most unsolicited comments. If you have not already discovered Blogshares, then I’m sorry to have popped your virginal naivety by alerting you to its existence. However, remember that the dodo became extinct because it was functionally inept to deal with the predators introduced by early travelers – so if you want your blog to survive globalisation, find yourself a scoop … or the very least, give your blog a theme. And if slogging is your thang, then Amen.

So, a new theme for this blog? Well, actually… no. I’m afraid I going to stick to writing about what I know best … and that’s me. And why ‘banana blogging’, some of you loyal fans have enquired? Well, riddle me this … What is yellow on the outside and white inside???

dead mini …

Sorry fans, but as an emergency measure, I have reverted to this out-of-date blog following the recent demise of my Mac Mini … which until last night, was hosting my most recent blog on WordPress.

It’s off to the doctors today with a suspected disk ailment, so until it is returned (hopefully fixed) sometime in the future, you and I will have the to put up with the pleasure of blogspot.

Update: Ok, I’ve backfilled previous posts from cached copies lurking on other PCs around the house, so we should be up to date now …

oriental discoveries …

I’m not really understanding why Sash’s blog (a Babe in Toyland) attracts such vitriolic comments, especially when she writes with such wit and lucidity about her insatiable appetite for cock. Now I don’t know Sash from Adam, colloquially nor in the biblical sense, but find her carnal adventures in her recently adopted home of Hong Kong … well, rather uplifting shall we say F*** it, I’m going to link to her from my blog anyway … even when as a relative noobie, I must confess I don’t really dig this curious practice of blogrolling. When I add a link, I do so to mark *my* approval of the blogger’s written contribution, across a range of loosely subjective criteria … literary style, contextual attraction, humour, artistic inclination, yada, yada. I do *not* blogroll to stoke the paranoia of stalkerphobics or the narcissism of Id-worshiping Freudians, and frankly if I really felt the need to pry into someone’s life, I would rather deploy a number of clandestine technical measures, made easier by the promiscuity of today’s Internet user … we all live in an increasingly dangerous interconnected world. So Sash, if you do come across this link, no malevolence was ever intended. On the contrary, I would have liked to have stared dreamily into your eyes and imagined a future with a harried tai tai with kids in tow, but alas for me that fate has already matured – 2 offspring, a potentially vindictive wife who knows a good divorce lawyer and a general bout of mid-life malaise (read: old spent git) says I will never realise this fantasy. Perhaps, I should put you in touch with my friend WaiMan instead – a like minded hedonist with comparable sexual drive, and currently residing (rather conveniently) in HK.

While trawling in the vicinity of SE Asia, I also stumbled upon Celeste K’s blog and her relentless quest to diss her brother’s new girlfriend, Cipap. Now this one requires an appreciation of local humour, which I’ve yet to find elsewhere. Let me expand on my definition of locale … I’ve been berated recently about my casual use of language and would rather not face a barrage of ill-feeling from people I don’t know. For many Malaysians, being associated with imported things whether they be fashion brands and/or ideology carries the usual rewards of recognition and distinction – an assertion/generalisation that I’m sure will generate some comeback, but one that is not immutably incorrect (bloody hell, three negatives in a row – must be a personal record!). So labeling something as local can often be construed as a health warning to others for something staid, not very it and generally to be avoided, whereas nothing can be further from the truth. If I harbour a regret about my childhood in the Far East, it would be that I left Malaysia before I really got to know the people, their culture and ways of working. Sash called this her Faustian sacrifice but I’m not posh enough to quote contextually apt literature, and besides my personal circumstances were a little more utilitarian – my sisters and I were dispatched to Blighty to become knowledge mules. But I do still yearn for that local living that I feel cheated of, which is why I never miss the opportunity to mingle when I’m back in the country … and also sadly why, without exception, I’ve always stood out like the proverbial digit in these situations … like when I was last at Zeta’s in the KL Hilton after Shirley’s wedding. Ok, admitedly I was in a pin stripe wool suit and feeling severely jet-lagged but in my defence, I had set off from London on a cold January morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

So, two great finds in blogosphere … and hopefully, plenty more to discover. Who said blogging was a one-sided indulgence?!