Posts Tagged ‘food’

The Man In Black


Yesterday I bored/puzzled/annoyed my facebook friends and twitter followers by emitting regular tweets containing the tittle of Johnny Cash songs translated into French. What kind of a barmy notion is that? You ask. Why would anyone want to do that? My reasoning was that that evening I was going to the fantastic Au Camioneur to eat with two good friends and then watch Wanted Man – A tribute to Johnny Cash.

Growing up I had only been aware of the novelty songs by Johnny Cash, songs like ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and ‘One Piece At A Time’. That was until I saw the film Walk the Line, when my attitude changed as I learnt the  large body of good work produced by Johnny Cash.

The food, as usual, was very good, the conversation was good and the Riesling provided a trinity of goodness. Then at 21:30 the band warmed up before the entrance of the ‘Wanted Man’. The band were tight and the ‘Wanted Man’ had a voice that sounded similar to Johnny Cash. They played all the well-known songs and a few lesser known ones and were so appreciated that they were called back for an encore three times. They were worthy of the encores and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. At the final encore I called for ‘The Man In Black’ and it was played and I filmed it. See it:



Eric the Half a Bee went the Monty Python song that some of my colleagues at school took great delight in walking around the school singing. During the last week I received a notice on facebook that there was an open day at a Honey producer in south Strasbourg.

So, after she had finished her Sunday morning observances JTO and I headed to the southern end of the tram network I have written about before. There was then a walk, the direction both of us had but didn’t quite know exactly. However, between us we managed to walk in the right direction and we came upon a street closure which then led to the street containing the honey producer. On our left was a someone providing rides upon Shetland Ponies, we were faced with the Strasbourg society of small animal keepers, and you knew they weren’t keeping them as pets and to our right were a number of other stalls down the street in front of the honey producer’s factory.

One of the first thing that happened was that we were caught by a couple of children (second picture) seeking for us to pay €5 towards the tombola. The winners won a pot of honey every week for a year, which was an attractive prospect, but more importantly, contributed towards the cost of training Frédéric, a student from Ziguinchor in “the luxuriant delta of the Casamance”.

We walked around the stalls which included everything from clothes made in Venezuela to artisanal soaps and cosmetics, where JTO bought some soap. We watched some people being shown a working hive and then walked into the yard of the factory and were asked if we wanted a tour, which we did. A very nice man then explained the process they go through to make the honey, the importance of pollination to the agricultural economy and showed us the equipment they use to take hives out into various places around Alsace which pollinate different plants for the farmers but also results in the company getting honey from the exercise. The hives have to be moved at night when all the bees have returned. If they are moved in the daytime, those who are out of the hive will not find their way back, even if the distance moved is very small.

After the tour we got a tasting, which went down very well with a group of children with us at the time. It wasn’t so bad for those of us slightly older either, getting a taste of honey that was being produced in front of us.

After the tasting we bought some honey and headed home. An instructive day about the importance of bees to the economy, and in the process to make honey. Here’s the song in full…..

Vote early, vote often


One of the things I like Twitter for is that it allows people to share things that are interesting, challenging or just a laugh. In the past I wrote about my accumulated Management wisdom, which amounts to:

  • Do it now,
  • Get it right first time,
  • When something’s not right it’s wrong.

This blog has had a manifesto since it started but it doesn’t have a mission statement, I don’t really think it needs one. If it did then one way to get one is the ISMS Mission Statement Generator©. I don’t know who pointed me towards it but it has created a mission statement for this blog:

We will strive to sponsor iconic e-business with internal impact for the benefit of our organisation and other public services.

Then this week I was pointed to the web economy bullshit generator. In the past I have studied management theory and other similar subjects and this would have been invaluable. So, we need to “…enhance sexy e-commerce, streamline real-time e-services and aggregate bricks-and-clicks ROI.”

The weather for the past couple of weeks has been beautiful here, as many places. The first picture is of the cathedral taken from rue d’Austerlitz, next to the Au Canon restaurant earlier this week. The blue sky shows what a beautiful afternoon it was, in the high twenties as it seems to have been forever. However, at the same time the trees have started changing as can be seen from the second picture where a brown leaf made it into our hall.

As I wrote about just over a month ago, I am a Germanophile, and my study of the language included taking part in an exchange with a pupil from a school in Osnabrück. It was on these two trips that I discovered the pictured biscuits which are a couple of plain ‘rich tea‘ type biscuit as a sandwich with a chocolate cream between them. They were not regularly available in the UK at the time. The times I have been to Germany since I would often buy a packet of the biscuits. One of the things I noticed on moving here was that the biscuits were available in my local co-op. I have been very restrained and have not bought them regularly as when I do I tend to eat a number each time which would not be good for my weight. Thursday I did buy a packet. I have never had a poll on this blog before. The first one is on the subject being talked of up and down the country. Vote, vote, vote. Oh, by the way it is set up that you cannot vote often.

Happy Easter


Pancake Day but not as we know it Jim


Yesterday being Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day it was necessary to eat pancakes so we went to a nearby crêperie called La Crêpe Gourmande (pictured in the heart of the old city, reviews) but it wasn’t pancakes like we previously had in the UK which were on the menu.  Rather than pancakes with a bit of sugar and lemon, or if you’re really extravagant syrup or jam, these were stuffed with food as a main course.  First I had to have cidre brut which came in a jug and was drunk out of a large cup as I had done in Normandy when there last Easter.(You can see the cup mentions the Rance which is the river on whose estuary St Malo sits.) The crêperie is not very large inside with tables close to each other: health and safety would have been very unhappy to see one table placed in front of the emergency exit but it didn’t feel too much like my space was being encroached upon.  There were also plenty of English voices to be heard; people also out to get their Shrove Tuesday fix.For the first course I had galette paysanne which was a buckwheat pancake stuffed with onion and ham with an egg on the top.  This was really a local version of the galette as onion and ham are the toppings of the local speciality of tarte flambeFor dessert I had a crêpe salidou which was a more white pancake like crêpe compared to the galette made with buckwheat (pictured) which was a dark brown and had the look of a rougher texture although that wasn’t the taste.  The crêpe salidou contained saltwater caramel sauce which is a speciality of Brittany an is delicious in a pancake and is a delicious flavour for ice-cream.

This week is not one for homebodies as it started with the return of fencing on Monday night and after the crêperie last night I am celebrating my birthday at fabulous looking Le Buerehiesel tonight in the middle of the parc de l’Orangerie which  puts it close to the bowling alley where I will be joining friends after eating.  Thursday is the sole night in before eating out at the house of friends on Friday when appropriately for lent it will be fish on the menu. Saturday sees me join colleagues from the play I was in at the end o January to celebrate a fellow cast members birthday.

Remember, remember….


Being English in another country helps you realise a lot of things about your country that you may not previously have thought about before.  It certainly makes you think about your identity.  One part of identity is about celebrations or communal comings together as a people.  One of the things I have realised was that as an Englishman we do not have many times when we come together as English people to celebrate as a community.  The Scots have Burns night, the Irish St Patricks Day, although the later has become more of an excuse for a global piss up.

The English Speaking Community of Alsace has three major events in the year.  A Burns Supper is one and another is an annual Bonfire Night celebration.  The celebration of democracy and the defeat of terrorism, to look at the night in a very current way, that is also appropriate for the place that is the guradian of Europe’s Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law and home to the European Court of Human Rights.  I must admit, rather to my shame, that as an Englishman this was my first Bonfire Night in Alsace whereas I have been to the Burns Night three times already.

The first three pictures show the bonfire with the Guy intact at the top, disintegrating in the fire next and the fire at its peak in the third photo.  Why is it that fires are so sexy?

One of the nice things about the evening was that it was a family event and there was a wide range of people present with a lot of families.  There was soup and baked potatoes available and at one stage there was some concern that the drinks might run out although that didn’t happen before I left.  Fortunately the rain also held off until the very end and even then it wasn’t too bad on our twenty minute return cycle trip to the airport, where we caught the train home.

I was also reminded that for quite a long time my consumption of bonfire night was at large local council type events and it was nice to get together with a goup of families in someone’s back garden for a more intimate evening.

Au Camionneur


Is a restaurant/bar near the station I have now been to a couple of times in the last month as I will be taking part in a play there at the end of January.  Last night after the rehersal we all piled down for the Karoaké, but Karaoké with a difference (And not just the accent over the last e) as there is not a karaoké machine but a live band, the Meteors, named after the local beer.

We sat on a raised area looking across the restaurant at the stage and it wasn’t long before the waiter bought our first beer.  For me it was my loss of Picon virginity as for the first time after three and a half years here, as a result of a misunderstanding, I was served a Picon beer and drank it.  It’s OK and I’ll probably have it again although I wonder if it is more of a Summer thing.

There is a wide range of food from a tapas of four items like calamari, falafel etc through the ubiquitous tarte flambée to a full menu like steak frites.  I had a very nice tarte flambée and we settled down to chat with my colleagues and listen to the singing.

The first thing I’ll say is that I was impressed by the quality of the singing which is much better than I expected – vindicating a decision not to take part on my part which would have brought down the standard.  If there was one criticism it would be that there seem to be a number of regulars who get chosen first.  One of our group put their name down when we arrived to be told after the first set there were still 18 people before them.  Here’s the band at work:


Men don your frilly lacy pants for manhood.


As someone whose work involves the English language, in a number of forms, making explicit the fact there are a number of different forms of English and that the difference amounts to more than just vocabulary is quite important.  For example I spent the afternoon and evening of Patti Smith events with an American friend and it struck me how much of British English is formed in the negative sense, even giving approval or permission – not half, I don’t mind etc, which doesn’t happen in American English, certainly not the mid-west version of my friend.

You do see quite a lot of adverts featuring English, more than I expected.  The advert has to have the French equivalent displayed on it, though on this one it seems to be in very little letters up the side – they’re too small for me to read to make sure.  This is part of a campaign launched by Dockers and will fall foul of the teaching of British English.  A ‘Call to Manhood and asks “Wear the  Pants”‘, or as the poster puts it, ‘Calling all men, its time to wear the pants’

American British English

Pants                       Trousers

Knickers                  Pants

So the call would be met by the answer, which ones?  The Frilly lacy ones, the thong, the big pants or the white y-fronts?

I also saw this poster of ‘A spectacle from the heart of Ireland’and I must say the Irish friends I have don’t tend to dress like that or break out in dances like that.  One friend I worked with this Summer didn’t do any of this at all.  What are we being sold?

Whilst out in the city I saw the van photographed from a local ‘Fromager’, M Tourrette.  I know the syndrome (wiki) is not spelt like this but with one ‘r’, however, an online medical dictionary spells it differently.(Check the URL rather than on the page – whoever did the coding was the person with the spelling problem.)  It did make me wonder what a cheese with tourettes would be like and that even for France, where as De Gaulle famously said with more cheeses than days of the year, a cheese with tourettes would be a novel concept.

Finally, a friend has introduced me to a dubbed version of the wonderful Flashing Blade that gave this blog its name.  Here’s one in funny supposed Lancashire accents:

Weekend World part 2 – Bristol


It was just getting dark as we arrived at Bristol Airport and got onto the bus that took us the twenty minute/half hour ride into the centre of the city.  We booked into our hotel then walked through a park next to a roofless church, over the river and a left turn took us to a curry house.  It was not anything special but we had a proper British curry, a chat and a beer and nearby where there were a group of people who work together obviously out for the night in the city, drinking and talking nonsense.  On our return we had both an i-Mac, with a large number of television channels on it, and free wifi in our hotel room so we entertained ourselves before going to sleep.

The next day after a great breakfast in the hotel we walked for a bit before stopping for a coffee and a read of the paper in the Retreat Cafe.  Then we went into the city for some shopping.  There was a festival of the bike taking place  with people in fancy dress riding bikes and performers of various quality at various stages round the city.  It was busy and seemed quite thriving.  The picture on the left shows two cyclists off their bikes and dancing to one of the performers whose power is supplied by the dynamos attached to the other bikes.  They are waving lances having clearly been jousting on bike.  After a walk up Christmas Steps we had a great lunch of Wild Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Penne at the Colston Yard, somewhere I had last been when it was a micro breweries as part of the Smiles chain.  I stayed reading the newspaper whilst JTO had a haircut before returning to the hotel where we had a meal in their restaurant.

The next morning we took it easy, JTO trying out a local church, before. on a recommendation of a native we are friendly with, going to the riverstation for brunch where I had a very nice scrambled eggs and salmon on toast.  It doesn’t look great shakes in the picture but this former station for the river police had great views over the docks.  After a leisurely time were headed back to the railway station to catch the bus back to the airport and return to France.

In the Country


Yesterday, with JTO, I went for lunch with some friends who live at a village called DorlisheimLike many villages in Alsace it is easy to get to by train in just half an hour from Strasbourg and, after a short walk, we were sat in a wonderful garden talking eating and imbibing the occasional drink.  Tomorrow the village has a fete de Mirabelle and our walk from the station took us past the yard of the house next door where this float was being made out of dahlias for the parade the following day, today.  We spent a nice afternoon together then went to a nearby village to look around, Rosheim.  From the 14th to 17th centuries, Rosheim was an Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire, and founded the Décapole confederation with nine other Alsatian Imperial Cities in 1354.  Like the other Decapolitan cities, it was awarded to France by the Peace of Westphalia and finally lost its independence under the Treaties of Nijmegen.  ONe of the first things we saw after stopping was the oldest boulangerie in France, more than 400 years old, as seen in the picture on the right.  It had some very nice cake in the window.(I don’t know who the chap is looking at the camera on the right.)  We then went inside the marvellous Romanesque church, St Peter and Paul, built by the Hohenstaufen dynasty between 1132 and 1190.  The external decorations are striking, in particular the Southern side portal, the decoration of the apse of which the central window is framed by the symbols of the four evangelists and on the corners of the main façade, four lions devouring a man.  The beasts represent sin attacking man and above them on the highest corner of the roof is an Eagle representing salvation.(Which can be seen clearer in the picture below)  The inside is very sober which I think gives it more power than if every inch was decorated as in say an orthodox church.  This also meant that the coloured light from the stained glass windows was displayed on the walls.  Also displayed on the walls of the church was the work of Aymery and Nathalie Rolland-Huckel.  Paintings by Aymery and jewellery,  sculptures and wall-hangings in lacquer and china with the theme “song of songs”.  The sober inside is softened by the alternation of square pillars and columns.  The sacristy from the beginning of the 12th Century was built on top of the choir of the former church which was burnt down.  Nearer the front of the church the pillar featured a carving of more than 20 faces, each with a different expression, said to be the monks who worshipped at the church at the time it was being built.  We looked into the building next to the church, slap bang in the centre of the village which was not only empty but was in some parts derelict and had trees growing inside it.  It surprised us that in such a central position, such an imposing and large building had been allowed to fall into wrack and ruin.    Rosheim was fortified for the first time in the 12th century  and refortified in the fifteenth century.  Of these walls three fortified gates remain.  On the main square stands the 18th century town hall, the Zittgloeckelturm (clock tower) and a very beautiful renaissance well.  The clock tower, which is also one of the gates, and the well can be seen on the left.  Just out through the gate there is a 12th century mason païenne (pagan house) which is the oldest residential building in Alsace.  We drove past it but didn’t have time to stop and look at it as time was getting on and we had to get back to Strasbourg to do our shopping for the weekend. (The shops being shut on Sunday it is necessary to make sure you have everything you need for the weekend before they close on Saturday.  This is something that was a culture shock on moving from Brixton where we did things just in time, buying the food etc. for the Sunday meal on the day itself.)  On the way out in the train I had been trying to post a video to Facebook to celebrate out visit but failed to do so.  Its posted here instead.  The janggly guitars of the 80’s pop sounds of the The Farmers Boys doing a cover of Sir Cliff and the Shads. ‘In the Country’.  Enjoy, I’m off for my Sunday Cremant:

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