vendredi, mai 18, 2007

Coulisses du vin and Mind the Gap @ Batofar

After a blissful moment of quiet in the morning, I headed off to work to meet with another IT guy from UofC who was visiting town. Of course, there were unforseen IT emergencies the moment I arrived to the office, but I managed to resolve or postpone most of them in time to still head out for lunch with my guest. On the recommendation of my boss, we passed the usual dining spots and headed to Les Coulisses du Vin, which is a wine shop near our offices.

What's neat about this wine shop is that during the lunch hours, it is also open as a table d'hôte. The phrase "table d'hôte" used to refer to a communal table at a hôtel, where guests would come to eat a meal from a set of prepared dishes. What it means currently (and in this case) is a dining space with communal seating, with a fixed menu that usually involves choosing between a set of pre-prepared dishes (thus, usually stews and the like). In some restaurants, this involves a buffet-style service, or a family-style service, where a waiter brings several items to the table for you to put on your plate, and then passes it on to the next table. In this case, we had a communal table (almost all to ourselves), with a prix fixe menu of items that had been prepared in advance.

However, this place was proof that a table d'hôte can still boast some excellent food, despite it not being entirely made-to-order. We split an appetizer of excellent foie gras (yes, I know, it's cruel yet tasty, and I cried tears of ambivalence about it), then one of us had some salmon in a wine-butter sauce, and another had some veal in a mushroom sauce. Both delicious. The real highlight of the meal, however, was the fact that your wine was picked from his entire wine stock, at the price of the bottle. We tried a really fantastic white wine from the vacqueyras region, that had a very fruity nose, but was rather smooth in the mouth. Not all that dry, actually. Also, towards the end of our meal, the owner made himself a meal and sat down with us to eat, and he gave us a bit of his wine as well, which was this lovely basque white wine. A quick web search tells me that the most common white wine from the Basque region is Txakolí, but I'm sure the one we tries wasn't that variety. There was at least one more "x" and a double-r. But it was similarly unpronounceable.

Once we were done with lunch, we headed back to work for a little while, and then we parted ways while I went to meet some friends of my sister's who were in town for the evening. I took them to Le Relais Gascon (the salade restaurant that I visited once with DJ & Sara, and later with Carla). It was as delicious as last time, although I really struggled to finish my salad. I mean, I had just finished lunch 2 hours before.

As evening fell, I headed back to my place to do some work, answer a fuckton of emails, and plan out my evening. I was going to go to Batofar for the Minibar Mind The Gap event, but I also had to pick up my sister from the airport at 10h00 the next morning. Once I made peace with the fact that I wasn't going to get much sleep, I started getting ready for my night out on the town...

Mind the Gap @ Batofar

0h00-1h30: n'eric

[I didn't get to Batofar until after his set, so I don't have much to say about it. Nonetheless, Anatoly told me that the mixing was sub-par, but the track selection was great.]

1h30-3h00: noé

After taking a bit longer than expected to get to Batofar, I slipped in around 1h30, checked my jacket, and wandered around the club. After a few minutes, I ran into one of Anatoly's friends, who quickly pointed me toward Anatoly. We hung out and listened to Noé's set near the middle of the room (Anatoly had found the room's "sweet spot"), which I found to be less minimal and more tech-house and house.

For some reason, the crowd was sloppier and rowdier and more messed up than usual. Certainly, pretty much any night out clubbing involves some people who are intoxicated and a variable amount of sexual play and pursuit, but this crowd seemed out of proportion with the usual "minimal techno" crowd. If anything, this was a good example of the post/structuralist "limit text," which reveals unreported or underdescribed limits and norms by exceeding them.

For example, there was a girl in front of me who was very, very drunk and dancing rather erratically. She would move her limbs in wide arcs that took up far too much space on the dancefloor and frequently hit people near her, and she would stumble and veer all over the place, constantly colliding with people. When she wasn't dancing like a madwoman, she was alternately flirting and making out with the men around her. Occasionally, she would rebuff a guy who made advances, doing it in a spectacular way that seemed to invite the other men around her to somehow defend her honour. In other words, she was a big histrionic mess.

Yes, there is always "that girl" or "that guy" at every event, who is so out of his/her gourd, that they become a walking PSA for drug use / alcoholism. What was surprising about the crowd tonight was that this woman wasn't alone. She was perhaps the most spectacular, but at the same time there were several other examples of the same thing. One girl was clutching a column, eyes nearly completely shut, barely paying attention to a guy that was alternately trying to convince her to go home (with him) to recover and then trying to feel her up. I lost track of the number of people who collided with me, tripped over me, or nearly put out my eye with their elbows. Thankfully, nobody spilled a drink on me, but that was mostly thanks to my quick moves to avoid it.

Also, correspondingly, there were more guys actively trawling the dance floor for available (e.g. intoxicated and impaired) women and they were generally more aggressive about it. As I had said before, I'm used to a certain amount of all of this when I go out clubbing in Paris, but the quantity and intensity felt excessive.

3h00-??: Cabanne vs. John Thomas


After hanging out in the chill-out are for a while (they have this awesome fish tank, which I had missed on my previous visits) and listening to Anatoly and his friends tell Russian jokes, we headed back out onto the dance floor to hear Cabanne. Cabanne's mixing was great, but his his track selection was uneven, so I was only really enjoying maybe 1 out of 5 tracks. John Thomas, on the other hand, consistently chose tracks that were perhaps minimal in some sense, but too hard-techno to blend well with what Cabanne was putting on. Also, he was clearly proud of his scratching skills, but I can't say that it did a great deal to improve his set.

After about an hour or so of dancing and dodging drunk/high people, Anatoly called it quits. I decided to head home, too, so we could share a cab. In the end, I didn't come out of there with my usual panoply of photos and video and such (partially because the lighting setup was hellaciously difficult to photograph, and party because my camera just wasn't up to it), but I did take a few:

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