Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beaujolais Nouveau 2014





In our post on Miss Suzannah James, over on Venus Observations, we talked a little about Beaujolais Nouveau and the Beaujolais Run.  Although popular in the US and, especially, Japan (the biggest foreign market for the stuff - they buy about 25% of the annual output), the tradition of drinking it on or shortly after Beaujolais Nouveau Day (the third Thursday in November) has rather lapsed in the UK compared with the eighties and nineties when Triple P and his friends endured the (largely) tooth enamel destroying stuff. 

However, yesterday we spotted some in Waitrose and as it was from the usually reliable (if controversial - the company was fined in 2006 for mixing grapes from other regions into their Beaujolais) Georges Duboeuf we picked up a bottle to take to our particular friend A's, yesterday. Having been in decline since the end of the eighties (1985 saw the peak production of 67 million bottles - the annual total is less than half that today with the French drinking over 50% of the total output)) there are signs of something of a comeback for the wine.  The Beaujolais region has been trying to improve the quality of the wine over the last decade and has reduced the number of vineyards producing it by over a third to help in this. 

Anyway, this year's vintage was much better than all of the ones I remember from the past; much more full bodied and fruity but with that typical gamay whiff. In fact it pretty much tasted like a completely different wine, compared with the stuff from twenty or thirty years ago,  The mouth-puckering acidity had gone and so had the nail polish smell. Not bad at all! Probably not worth £7.99 a bottle though!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Go Mylene!


 Beauty and the beast


While channel hopping last night I caught Britain's ugliest and most ineffectual politician, "leader" of the opposition Ed Miliband, getting savaged on a TV show by someone who looked a lot like Mylene Klass (rhymes with "arse").  It must be some political activist or local politician, I thought,  But no!  It actually was former reality show pop band member and bikini model Mylene, pointing out the flaws in Miliband's proposed mansion tax policy.


Mylene is her more usual setting


Way to go Mylene! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Betsy Blue English




Now our Saturday evening guilty pleasure is Strictly Come Dancing and frankly we want nothing to do with the most manipulated "reality" competition on TV, the evil mastermind Simon Cowell's X Factor.  However, the other week we were flicking through the channels after Strictly and watched a bit of X Factor featuring a teen group called Only the Young who seemed as anodyne as semolina.  Last night we saw them in one of the highlights sequences in the show and in the interim since we first saw them the producers have taken the blonde girl member of the group and sexed her up to the max. She is now quite a slinky little piece. 




A little research has shown that she rejoices in the name of Betsy-Blue (her real name, it seems) English.  She doesn't seem to the the brightest spark and it is noticeable that she never gets interviewed on any of the X Factor programmes (partly because of her particularly mangled version of Estuary English, we suspect). 





She can't really sing but that hasn't been a requirement for female singers in the pop industry for some years.  Looking nice is paramount, singing can be sorted using technology.  It also turns out she is just eighteen.  Now Triple P much prefers women to girls but she is nicely packed (especially from behind) with potential.  In fact that 1940s song by Merle Travis So round, so firm, so fully packed, comes to mind. It will be interesting to see how many more of her clothes the producers get her to dispense with next week.  As young people would say today: "Fit"!  A nice Saturday evening distraction!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thunderbirds are Go...again!







Agent Triple P's all time favourite TV programme when he was little was Gerry Anderson's seminal Thunderbirds; quite simply the best children's TV series ever!
We had models of all the Thunderbirds craft, an International Rescue hat and got TV21 magazine every week to enjoy further adventures of the Tracy family, as brilliantly drawn by the peerless Frank Bellamy.  So the recent announcement of a new series fills us both with excitement and dread.


Thunderbirds 2004


The 2004 film Thunderbirds was a ghastly travesty and the barrenness of the production was exemplified by the dreadful and needlessly fussy updating of the Thunderbirds craft.


Thunderbirds 1965


The original Thunderbirds craft are design classics (with, perhaps, the exception of the space station Thunderbird 5 which Anderson was never happy with) and were the work of Derek Meddings who would go on to be an Oscar winning special effects designer (special award for Superman in 1978).  


Thunderbirds 2015


Four things, however, give us hope for the new series which is scheduled for 2015; a rather depressing fifty years after the originals were released.  Firstly, the updated Thunderbird 1 (above) is a much more subtle update of the original than in the 2004 film.  Secondly, David Graham, the original; voice of Parker will be voicing that character once again, half a century later.  Thirdly, although it is a CGI series they are using models for the craft.  These always look better than pure CGI as was shown by Peter Jackson in his original Lord of the Rings trilogy (c.f. The Hobbit).  Fourthly, Rosamund Pike will be providing the voice of Lady Penelope which indicates that the producers have a decent budget.


Tracy Island 1965


Tracy Island 2015


Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ola Jordan pops out...






...too a nightclub this week but she seems to be having trouble controlling her top!

Splendid!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The return of Strictly Come Dancing for 2014




Lott


Triple P has been away for a time but is now back and looking forward to the return of Strictly.  Not a very stellar cast this year and seemingly aimed more at the age group for the X-Factor with which it is going directly up against in the schedules.


Flack


Three pieces of rent-a-totty this year should engage our interest over the coming weeks.  Firstly, toy-boy snatcher Caroline Flack who will be hoping for a ratings defeat of X-Factor after Simon Cowell kicked her out of her Xtra-Factor presenting job.   Top bet to have a fling with her dance partner (but see below).


Bridge


Secondly, girl group The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge who is already looking like a great little mover.  We can't say we know or could name even one song from The Saturdays (unlike Girls Aloud) so they really are a triumph of image over music.

Finally, slightly more famous singer Pixie Lott (top) who Triple P sat on the next table to once while having afternoon tea in The May Fair hotel.  She impressed us then with her toned thighs in a very short skirt so we hope she will remain in for some time.




So Rachel Riley, from last year's show, has owned up to what was completely obvious to everyone else: that she is having a fling with her professional dance partner Pasha Kovalev.  Flack is Kovalev's partner this year so that could be interesting.  Expect Riley to turn up on the live shows to keep an eye on him!




Ola is back but has been told off by the BBC for criticising the show so we don't think she will come back next year.  It all depends on the ratings!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tour de France Food and Drink stages 13-16





Over half way there now but this year's route continues to be a culinary challenge.  One dish we had to make was the very first thing Triple P learnt to cook: Coq au Vin.  Perhaps more typically associated with the Burgundy region, in fact it is pretty ubiquitous in France, where you just bung in the local wine and call it Coq au whatever the locals drink.  This was an ideal solution for Stage 13 which cut just south of the Beaujolais region and clipped the top of the Rhone.  

We first cooked this delicious concoction of chicken, bacon, onions, wine and mushrooms about forty five years ago, under the supervision of Triple P's father and a famous chef and it has been a regular ever since.  Although it is not exactly a delicate dish it has always been a hit with young ladies.


Stage 13


We used the recipe from one of our favourite cookbooks, Great Dishes of the World;  not that we really need to refer to the recipe.  This is not our original copy ,which disintegrated a few years ago.  Fortunately, we managed to get a pristine copy in the RNLI charity shop in Yarmouth two years ago.




The orange enamel casserole Triple P cooked it in was the original one we first used in 1969, which Triple P's father had bought in a shop in Perigueux for the then staggering price of £5.  Worth every penny, of course!





Anyway, the accompanying wine really had to come from the Northern Rhone.  The closest wine town to the route was Condrieu but as a very aromatic white this wouldn't really have gone with a dish cooked in red wine so we went just a little way south of the route for a St Joseph, which worked perfectly.  




Stage 14 saw us in the only full day in the Alps, in a sadly wine free region.  We looked about 25 miles north, however, and alighted on the town of Chambéry, home of our favourite vermouth, as we find the French one more delicate than the Italian versions.  They are also, these days, made in a rather less industrial way than their Italian cousins, using real herbs from the mountains rather than just flavourings.  Nice just with ice, it's also my preferred vermouth for Martinis.  In France you can also get Chamberryzette, a version deliciously infused with strawberries.  Girls like it.


Stage 14


After a heavy dinner the night before we just had some light Abondance cheese from Haut-Savoie which is actually closer to Stage 11 than Stage 14. This was the nicest cheese of the Tour so far.




Stage 15 was a quick whiz through Northern Provence with plenty of wine options on the way.  However, as the stage finished in the splendid Roman city (Nemausus) of Nimes (home of denim too, of course) then it had to be a Costières de Nîmes.  The vineyards here have been producing wine here for over two thousand years and the region was settled by many veterans of Caesar's campaigns in Egypt, which explains the symbol of a crocodile chained to a palm tree on  the local coat of arms.




Time for another lighter meal so just some typical Provencal tapenade and some picholine olives (no more cornichons for a while!).  Olive and anchovy tapenade was, appropriately, recorded in Roman times as olivarum conditurae.  Some nice crunchy picholine olives added another local touch.  These are, also, particularly good as the olive in a Martini.

Next time it's another big casserole!