Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mm Mm Mmmmmmmmm

It started off with a sublime performance of Madama Butterfly at the Four Seasons Centre and the wonderful duo of Yannick Muriel Noah and Brian Hymel as the doomed pair. I was awash in the most satisfying tears. I can never get over Act II, which is like a never-ending aria for the soprano, and Noah is heart-breaking. Then I floated home and lay about listening to Elvis Presley sing one of my favourite songs of all time, in my favourite rendition. This might seem an odd combination, but it works for me. I feel completely soaked in heady, neurotic, heart-aching pleasure.

Are You Lonesome Tonight?
(Music by Lou Handman and lyrics by Roy Turk, pub. 1926)

Are you lonesome tonight?
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray
To a bright summer day?
When I kissed you and called you Sweetheart?

Do the chairs in your parlor
Seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep
And picture me there?

Is your heart filled with pain?
Shall I come back again?
Tell me, Dear,
Are you lonesome tonight?

(Elvis speaks this next part:)
I wonder if you're lonesome tonight.
You know, someone said that the world's a stage,
And each must play a part
Fate had me playing in love, with you as my sweetheart;

Act one was when we met.
I loved you at first glance.
You read your lines so cleverly,
And never missed a cue

Then came act two.
You seemed to change;
You acted strange,
And why I'll never know.
Honey, you lied when you said you loved me,
And I had no cause to doubt you.
But I'd rather go on hearing your lies
Than to go on living without you.

Now the stage is bare,
And I'm standing there
With emptiness all around,
And if you won't come back to me,
Then they can bring the curtain down

Is your heart filled with pain?
Shall I come back again?
Tell me, Dear,
Are you lonesome tonight?

Which reminds me of how much I love satellite radio, and how I'm torn continually between the Met Radio station and Elvis Radio (live from Graceland and hosted by someone called "Big Jim").

(Note to self: Take a lint brush to Bruce)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beautiful Coincidence

I still haven't got back into regular blogging yet, but last week's excuse was my birthday (45). If that wasn't pleasing enough, imagine the delicious frisson that overtook me as I learned that I share my birthday with that of the Guinness brewery in Dublin. It was on September 24, 1759 that Arthur Guinness signed his 9,000-year lease.

And I had no idea as I started the celebrations with a tall glass of the black stuff.

Quote of the Day

"Dispensing with the endless instructions for lettuce salads in cookbooks she says that “It seems to me that there are only three absolutely essential rules to be observed: the lettuce must be very fresh; the vinegar in the dressing must be reduced to the absolute minimum; the dressing must be mixed with the lettuce only at the moment of serving”. An admirably concise and succinct description of a much mangled task. Her friend Sybille Bedford noticed that “she always mixed salad with her hands, saying that this was the only way that every leaf was properly covered with dressing”. As for dressings; “however mild the vinegar, I prefer lemon juice, and very little of it”. Elizabeth next makes a swingeing attack, concluding with a typically tart finale: “The grotesque prudishness and archness with which garlic is treated in this country has led to the superstition that rubbing the bowl with it before putting the salad in gives sufficient flavour. It rather depends whether you are going to eat the bowl or the salad.”

From Elizabeth David, the superb biography by Lisa Chaney

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

“A handsome white round dish, quite flat, entirely covered with pale rose slices of Parma ham, cut so thin as to be almost transparent, with edgings of opaque silky white fat; in the centre a little pyramid of purple figs fresh from the tree, their honey-sweet flesh bursting here and there through their skins; a glass of fresh, cool white wine.”

Elizabeth David describes her idea of the perfect starter. (I was trying to write hors d'oeuvres but I can never remember how to spell those two words and I always have to look them up and they never look right to me anyway, the buggers.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"As time goes on you accumulate your personal gadgets, things which graft themselves on to your life; an ancient thin-pronged fork for the testing of meat, a broken knife for scraping mussels, a battered little copper saucepan in which your sauces have always turned out well, an oyster knife which you can no longer afford to use for its intended purpose but which turns out to be just the thing for breaking off hunks of Parmesan cheese... an earthenware bean-pot of such charm that nothing cooked in it could possibly go wrong."

From French Country Cooking by Elizabeth David

At the cottage two weeks ago I found myself without a rolling pin and a box of ripe Ontario peaches. A heavy, unopened bottle of wine filled in nicely.

This is the One

Several years and experiments later, I have found my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, courtesy of Ontario's own Anna Olson, host of the Food Network's "Sugar" and "Fresh".

They're chewy and delicious. Apparently it's the cornstarch that keeps them chewy inside. I use mini Callebaut 70% chocolate chips and am very careful not to overcook as that seems to be an easy thing to do.

Anna Olson's Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks (n0t me, see note above)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks. (BPG: I'd put the kettle on at this point). Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges.


It be a grand day for celebratin' and droppin' our "g"s, and unlike last year, when we was escapin' foreign waters, Dreade Pirate Bruce the Bat and myself are in our home bay. The wee matey has bin enjoyin' some precious swag in the form of Marmite-flavoured breadsticks, fetched from across the dreade Atlantic waters by this blog's favourite newly-wed couple. We be brandishin' said breadsticks while gnashin' our teeth and dippin' them in some soft-boiled eggs (it be hard to admit that dreade pirates like us like coddled egg brekkies).

Bruce also be growin' his own dreade pirate pet, booty given the wee matey by his friend Dreade Pirate Capitano Martino.

Tonight we be celebratin' alone, the wee bat and meself, with some gold-wrapped chocolate doubloons, some ill-gotten Guinness, an' some fine cinema.