samedi, juin 09, 2007

Rex Trilogy III: Dinner, Urban Athletics, Sleeparchive and Onur Özur

I got home rather late Friday night, so I slept in pretty late and then crawled out of bed. I took to transferring the interview I had recorded the night before and doing a bit of organization, then did a whole lot of catch-up blogging. I had a pass that would get me into the Rex tonight before 1h00 (thanks, Fantô!), so I had plans for a leisurely and somewhat early dinner, a short disco nap, and then off to the party.

However, midway through the evening just as I was getting ready to fetch some groceries, I get a call from an old friend living in Paris. This was the same one that I hung out with only a few days after arriving in Paris last September, who had once stayed with me in Toronto back in the early 2000s. Anyway, she was having a get-together of all the girls that had been in the Ottawa (Canada) program with her back in the day, so she called me to invite to join them for dinner. I was thrilled to get another chance to see my friend before leaving, and I was curious to see what the rest of the girls were up to, so I accepted. The only problem was that we were supposed to meet to start cooking dinner at her place around 20h30.

So I quickly did my grocery run, frantically did as much blogging and correspondence as I could, and then dashed off to her place. As it turns out, she was running late, so by the time I got to her place, she was just getting back from the market. The rest of the group arrived shortly thereafter and we started cooking up dinner. Some of us chopped up chicken breasts into large chunks to pan fry with some herbs, while some of us chopped up onions and red peppers as a base for a tomato and wine sauce. In the meanwhile, we also set a large pot of basmati white rice to cook. The rice took the longest to prepare (the 1.5 litres of water were too much for my friend's little electric plates), but once it was ready we placed a base of rice on each plate, placed some of the chicken on top, and then covered it with sauce.

So dinner was great (mostly thanks to my host and her friends; they did a good job of keeping me out of the kitchen), but we had started late and the rice had taken much longer than we had anticipated. By the time we had finished the main course and had a small cheese course (with the stinkiest cheese I have ever smelled), it was already 0h15. I had 45 minutes to cross Paris, get in the guest line, and make my way through the door if I wanted to get in for free. After having messed up and missed the door last night, I was determined to get there on time. I skipped dessert and said my goodbyes, and bolted out the door and toward the subway stop (which is actually a rather far from her place).

Now, keep in mind that I had just finished a rather heavy rice dish. As you rice-eaters of the world probably know, rice expands in your stomach and makes you feel more full 15-30 minutes after you've stopped eating. So there I was, trying to run (or at least walk briskly) to the subway station, is a belly packed tightly with ever-expanding rice. I made it to the Rome métro stop, caught the next train and transferred to the 4 line at Barbès-Rochechouart, then transferred and caught the 9 at Strasbourg Saint-Denis, getting off one stop later at Bonne Nouvelle.

Through the miracle of good timing and a great deal of running down subway station corridors, I made it into the guest line by 0h51. I had nine minutes to make it past the front door. There was a group of six people near the back of the line who seemed to be both waiting in line but also waiting for another person or people to join them. I took advantage of the ambiguity and stood behind them...then beside them...then in front of them by the time we had reached the front of the line. Mercifully, things were still pretty quiet in the cash lineup, so the guest line moved quickly. At 0h57, with three minutes to spare, I made my way past the front doorman and down into the club.

Correspondant @ Le Rex: Sleeparchive, Onur Özur, Jennifer Cardini

0h00-2h30: Jennifer Cardini

Of course, there's a reason why passes expire at 1h00 and guestlists close at 1h30 here. The place was virtually empty when I arrived. There were barely 50 people in a space that usually holds hundreds. I took advantage of the sparse crowds to check my coat and get a drink, and then wandered around the floor to see if I recognized anybody. I sat down for a bit and waited, and eventually I saw Fantômette come in. Fantô and I chatted, wandered about the room people-watching, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up. S. and D. were supposed to be showing up with a bunch of friends; it was past the deadline for the guestlist and they still hadn't arrived.

S. and D. and their crew eventually showed up around 2h30 (having paid full price at the door), and we hung out at the back of the club and chatted as we waited for Sleeparchive to set up for his set. Jennifer Cardini's set was actually very good (she even dropped that old "helicopter" track by Plastikman!), but I have to admit that it wasn't the main attraction for me. Cardini's sets are always consistently good, but I have rarely been blown away by them, either. I suspect part of this is that I've almost only seen her spin as a warm-up DJ, so I don't know what she would offer as a headliner. Nonetheless, it was a far sight better than most of what I heard last night, so I was pretty happy.

2h30-4h00: Sleeparchive

If Nathan Fake's live set last Thursday was a bit abstract and pointillist, Sleeparchive's set was two steps closer to the dancefloor-oriented minimalism of the Berlin scene. The set was great, with a punchy sound that occasionally departed into distorted or nebulous episodes, but mostly remained throbbing. There was a great deal of forward drive to the whole thing, I felt, which is rather hard to do in a live set. Part of what might have made his set the more coherent one was that it sounded like he was mixing together both individual loops and entire tracks in whatever software he was using (I'm pretty sure it was Ableton Live again). Either way, I really enjoyed the set.

The place was PACKED from the moment his set started, so I had trouble being able to physically enjoy his performance much beyond nodding my head. As it was, I still had a belly full of rice, so I wasn't feeling very nimble. Add to that an overheated, smoky room packed to capacity and squashed near the front, and I just wasn't in the mood. I still really enjoyed the set, but I can't help but feel that I would've had a better time if I had had room to move.

D. and her friends got sick of the press of the crowd and moved off to the side of the room for a breath of fresh air, leaving S. and I to hang out. Fantômette disappeared and reappeared from time to time throughout the set, although she mostly hung out near the stairs and railing the the left of the DJ booth. A little while later, I split off from S. to move to the front and take pictures of the set. Something about the intense red lighting prevented me from taking any good photos, but I managed to get a lot of video.

4h00-6h00: Onur Özur

I had heard a bit of Onur Özur's set at the Watergate in Berlin early in May, but I missed most of his set that time, because I headed off to Berghain / Panorama Bar. I was able to stick around for about half of his set this time (I left just after 5h00), and was really glad I did. The set was a bit less intense than Sleeparchive's, but more danceable. Many of the tracks had a house-y feel, and a lot of his set seemed to traverse the space between minimal techno and minimal house.

The video that I got of him doesn't do the set justice, as it remember it as more dynamic and more spatialized. Of course, this recording is from a simple mono microphone that doesn't pick up anything in the low ranges, so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Also, Onur is clearly not very photogenic; he's actually quite cute in a way that I don't find to be true for very skinny men like him, but none of the photos of took of him came out well. Similarly, every photo I find of him on the net is similarly unflattering, even if it's a professional job.

So, the lesson here is that you should trust my taste in music and men, even when the evidence I provide isn't so compelling...

vendredi, juin 08, 2007

Rex Trilogy II: Interview and Jack de Marseille

After sleeping in a bit to recover from last night, I spent a large part of my day running errands. Perhaps most importantly, I finally dragged those three boxes of books and sweaters of to the nearest post office. Each one of them was a bit over the 7kg limit, so I was carrying somewhere between 23 and 24 kilos in total. I slung them into a combination of hefty bags and then nearly killed myself getting them 1 block down the street. By the second block, I came across a bus stop that was in the direction I was going. I waited for the bus, rode it for only one stop, and then got off right in front of the post office.

I picked the main post office in Les Lilas, technically in the banlieue outside Paris, rather than the post office closer to me at Porte des Lilas, because this was was big and open and generally less miserable-looking. After waiting in line for several minutes, I noticed that everyone in front of me was waiting to cash social security checks, money orders and so on, while a "boutique" selling pre-paid envelopes was also weighing and posting packages. Since my boxes were ready and pre-packaged, I switched to the much shorter boutique line and waited a few more minutes.

Thankfully, I had chosen the right line. Just as I was being served, a man came from some other line and walked up the front and demanded to be served. He was obviously angry about having to wait in another line, but this is how French bureaucracy works, and the post office is in many ways its platonic ideal. When the woman at the desk told him to either wait in line or go speak to a supervisor, he marched off around the corner and starting yelling up a storm at some very unimpressed-looking man with a clipboard. I took the opportunity to commiserate with the woman at the desk, making clichéd comments like, "Some people are just poorly-raised," and "I used to work in retail, I totally empathize." This seemed to have the desired effect, as she was very patient with me as I dropped of three packages, bought three more packages, and also bought three pre-paid envelopes for some other stuff I have to send.

With everything taken care of and three new boxes under my arm, I headed back home. I spent most of the afternoon and evening catching up on blogging and emails (I was almost a week behind on blog entries since Carla's visit). By about 22h00, it was time to head over to my friend S.' new apartment to interview him. He had been kind enough to give me a bit of his time before tonight's outing to Le Rex to let me pick his brains. I headed over to his place and hung out with his roommate, his girlfriend and their friends; after a little while, the rest of them headed off to a nearby bar while S. and I sat down to the interview.

As is often the case with interviews, I came with a set questions that I promptly deemed insufficient and abandoned; nevertheless, it was useful to have a set of general questions that I could fall back on during lulls in conversation. Indeed, the interview turned into a sort of extended conversation, as I would ask him a broad question, he would say something interesting, I would focus on what I found interesting, and then we'd chatter about it for 20 minutes. An additional challenge to this whole endeavour, however, was the fact that we were conducting it in French. My French may be good, but it's hard enough to articulate my thoughts about my project in English; it's a whole other struggle to translate the po-mo jargon and the specially-chosen English terms into French. There were many moments when I had to pause and re-start my train of thought with a new set of terms. If anything, I suppose, it was a good lesson in just how much our thought is shaped by the languages available to us.

Thankfully, I caught all of this on my iPod, so I didn't have to worry about taking notes. I bought the Griffin iTalk a long time ago, which is this little accessory for iPods that records sound through it's own internal microphone or through any mic that you plug into it. I had bought a cheap electret cavalier mic to record the conversation, but when I ran some tests the night before, I discovered that the internal mic actually worked better than the electret mic. I think part of it is that the mic is internal to a rather resonant casing (the accessory is shaped to continue the form of the iPod, so it probably has a lot of empty space). Either way, I only had to take occasional notes that would later serve as guides when I had to transcribe this.

We managed to put in nearly 1.5 hours of conversation before we had to leave to meet the rest of the group at Le Rex. S. now lives close to the Rex, so we headed off on foot; wandering through sidestreets that we hoped would serve as shortcuts. A few blocks away from Le Rex, we got a call from S.'s girlfriend, saying that they were running late and just hopping into a cab right now. S. was feeling rather peckish, so we stopped at a kebab stand for a bit. As it turns out, we took too long to eat; as S. was finishing his fries, he got a call from his girlfriend, asking him where the hell he was. The rest of the group was already at the front of the line, apparently, so S. told them to go inside and we would catch up with them. By the time we were on our way over, I checked the time on my cellphone and realized that it was already 1h30. Aw damn.

So we had to pay our way in that night (13€), which made things all the more bitterly ironic when the music for the first 2/3 of the night was pretty...well...bad.

Automatik vs. Technorama: Slam and Jack de Marseille

1h30?-4h30: Slam

I've been overwhelmed by DJ sets before; at times, such as during Kraft's set last night, I've been underwhelmed; but this time, I was just whelmed. I didn't love Slam's set, but I didn't hate it either. I didn't clap my hands over my ears and run screaming, but I was having a really hard time getting excited about this duo's set. I will acknowledge that they were indeed spinning techno of some sort, and they were indeed capable of mixing records together (or, in this case, mp3's of records run through Final Scratch). But they were missing the hard-to-articulate extra stuff that makes a good set not only functionally danceable and stylistically recognizable, but also fun and exciting.

For one thing, the set felt very flat. There were regularly-spaced moments of climax and breakdown, but they totally failed to entrain me in their movements. Some part of me recognized that, "Oh, now is the time to be excited," but my body just wasn't resonating.

Also, the track selection didn't really surprise or excite me. All the tracks were certainly techno, but of a very generic and and slightly dated sound that made me feel as if they had done all their music shopping in the "Electronica" bins of the Virgin megastore in 2002. Again, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't...well...much of anything.

I'm actually surprised at my own ineloquence at pinpointing what was wrong with the set. It's like I had absentmindedly skimmed a novel for a grade-school literature class, and now I'm trying to improvise a book report on it. I may add on some more commentary in the comments section of this post if I can think of a better way of articulating my (non-)feelings about this set.

Either way, they were a hit with the crowd, although they rarely acknowledged their fans. Much like last night during Kraft's set, we all kept on checking in with each other, curious to see if one of us would start to like it. S. and his girlfriend, D., gave up and left about halfway through, but the rest of us stick it out for all 3 hours of their extended set.

I only managed to get a couple of pictures, but I got three pretty decent videos, including one taken a higher spot in the club, giving a nice view of how the lighting system works at the Rex (see last video).

4h30-6h00: Jack de Marseille

I had never heard of Jack de Marseille, but Fantômette told me that his was the first DJ performance that really surprised her and drew her attention to the genre. His set was great, with very much the sort of sound that I would expect from someone that has been spinning (successfully) for many years. There were a few older and "classic"-sounding tracks, but mostly new stuff that probably fell somewhere between the techno and progressive house streams. I'm usually not a big fan of progressive tracks (they seem to be obsessed with 10-minute-long buildups and little else), but he made it work. It also helped that he sped up the tempo of the music in comparison to Slam. Overall, there was something more intense and driving about his set that I quite enjoyed.

At 5h30, as I was heading out to catch the first métro train, I walked up the steps from the basement-level club toward the exterior door. As I turned a corner between flights of steps, I saw a young woman sitting on the steps and leaning on the railing, looking as if she planned to spend the night there. "I wonder what she's doing over here when the party is still going on downstairs?" At that point, I stepped in a puddle of something warm and chunky.


jeudi, juin 07, 2007

Rex Trilogy I: Aji de Gallina and Nathan Fake

Tonight was the first night of what would become a trilogy of nights out at the Rex. But there was so much going on before the Rex.

Perhaps most importantly, I made aji de gallina for DJ, since he hadn't been in town the past few times I've made it. As soon as I got home, I pulled out the hens from the pressure cooker (I had cooked them last night) and started stripping the carcass and shredding the meat. Although the hens didn't give much flesh (it's a good thing I got two), they certainly rendered a lot of chicken fat, which promised to make a delicious sauce. I poured out the broth into a large bowl and let the fat settle at the top. I fried up the onions and peppers as usual, then threw in the garlic and habañero peppers at the last minute and started spooning in the broth (starting with the chicken fat, of course). I added the cumin and tumeric and the aji amarillo, then set the mixture to reduce. Once everything was cooked through and the broth had reduced a bit, I added the milk-soaked bread to thicken it all to an almost-solid, and then tossed in some walnuts and took a hand blender to it. From there, it was just a matter of adding a bit of creme fraîche (not necessary, but I had it in my fridge) and the hen flesh and mixing thoroughly.

By all accounts, the ají de gallina was a resounding success, as was the batch of basmati rice that I made with the leftover broth from the main dish. DJ and I stuffed ourselves silly with food, drank some wine, and then I dashed off to meet Fantômette at a photo show. The guy who does most of the official photography for Be My Chose and other events connected to them was having an opening tonight of a set of his pictures at a bar called Les Furieux. The plan was to hang out at the bar, check out the photos, and then continue on to Le Rex to see Nathan Fake and Shonky. Fantô was a bit late getting to the bar, so things were winding down as she arrived. We needed to be at the Rex by 1h00 if we were going to get in the guestlist, so we did a quick tour of the display and then zipped off with another friend of Fantô's (who had a car, thankfully). We piled in his car, he drove like a madman to get us there, and he managed to find a parking spot barely a block away from the club. We climbed out and headed to the club to find that the guestlist line was mercifully short. As it turns out, we were short one spot on the guestlist, but some other friends of Fantômette's showed up in time with an extra spot on theirs. Problem solved!

Bubble: Nathan Fake, DJ Shonky, and Guest (Kraft)

0h00-1h30: Shonky

Alas, I have no good pictures of Shonky. When we first got in, the crowd was still too thin for me to surreptitiously take pictures. By the time the next DJ was coming on, things were still a bit too open. Ah well. For the record, he looks cuter in person. Anyway, I was a bit surprised to see Shonky relegated to the warm-up set, but I later found out that he also got the closing set from 4h30-6h00, so it wasn't so bad. Nonetheless, I made a point of complimenting him on his set after he finished, if only to point out that he merited a more central time slot.

We got in, checked our coats, and grabbed drinks. While Shonky's set was good (although Fantô pointed out quite rightly that his sound is a bit static), both of us had eaten rather late dinners, so we just stood around and listened to the music. We amused ourselves by observing and commenting on the people around us. As it turns out, Fantô shares my love of people-watching, so we were well entertained.

1h30-2h30: Kraft

I have to admit, I was pretty underwhelmed by Kraft's set. I've never heard him before, and I later found out that he usually spins hard techno sets, so I'm wondering if he was experimenting with minimal that night. Either way, I tried and tried to get into the set, but to no avail. Most of the rest of the crew with me tonight felt the same way, although with different levels of intensity. Every few minutes, we would check in on each other: "Do you like this yet?" I wasn't particularly inspired to take a lot of pictures and video of the guy, but I've included a few clips of video so that you have some idea of what I'm talking about.

2h30-3h30: Nathan Fake

Nathan Fake's set was great. One of Fantômette's friends complained that it was too deconstructé, too abstract. He has a point; live sets are usually built out of a set of loops and and effects run through a sequencing program of some sort, so the large-scale forms and cohesiveness that are normally provided by the chaining-together of discrete tracks. Rather than the audible flow from one track to another (even when well mixed, you can still trace the shift between tracks, as the sonic elements of each track tend to cohere sonically), in a live set you have the occasional adding or removing of distinct and autonomous elements. For the record, he was using Ableton Live.

In addition to the inherent challenges of listening/dancing to a live set, Fake's set had the odd quality of being minimal, techno-y, mostly danceable, and yet rather distant from a lot of minimal techno. It had the abstract and sparse patterns of bleeps and beeps and scratches common in the more atmospheric, austere and virtually undanceable stream of minimal techno, yet it had the rolling bass, shaped climaxes, and departure-return patterns of the more dancefloor-oriented minimal of the current M_nus crew (Richie Hawtin, Troy Pierce, Magda, Heartthrob, etc.).

Nathan Fake, as it turns out, is rather photogenic in his own gangly way. No doubt, part of this was helped by the fact that the lighting folks were saturating him with an intense blue spotlight. I was able to turn off my flash, turn up the ISO, slow the shutter, and get some great images. Although several of them had to be taken between the arms and heads of taller people, I'm pretty happy with the results.

3h30-6h00?: Shonky (again)

Shonky followed Nathan Fake's set with a more upbeat and house-y minimal set. It sounded really good and I was enjoying it, but I was also getting really tired and my body was telling me that I shouldn't have been dancing on a full stomach. At around 4h00, I got my coat, said my goodbyes and headed out the door. I made it to the night-bus stop on Sebastopol, but I just missed my bus and the electronic display panel (thank goodness for those things!) told me that the next bus would be in 43 minutes.

Well, screw that. I had gotten into Le Rex for free and only bought two drinks, so I felt entitled to be a princess and hail a taxi. The taxi driver chatted with me all the way home about the repairs he needs to do to his car, how expensive repairs are, how unavoidable black-market repair shops are, and so on. Despite my fatigue, I managed to keep up my conversation with bland agreements and inane observations on the obvious.

And then I went to bed.

mercredi, juin 06, 2007

Batofar Closure and Food Shoppin'

So, I spent the greater part of the afternoon/evening running a bunch of food-related errands. I needed some hot peppers, some aji amarillo pepper paste, and two small hens, because I'm making aji de gallina. I also swung by this store near the Moulin Rouge called L'Etoile D'Or, run by a very nearly crazy chocolate-monger, Denise Acabo. Denise has her wood-and-glass-interior store packed to exploding with chocolates and candies (some pics here), but the amazing part about it is the quality of her products. She has clearly canvassed all of France and brought back the best of each region. As she walks me around her store, wearing a kilt and pigtails and addressing me as "tu," she explains the origins of every item. This marshmallow is flavoured with Bergamot and comes from a nunnery in Nancy, these bonbons are filled with raspberries and come from Dijon, and so on.

The crowning glory (and no doubt biggest profit-maker) is her Bernachon chocolates. Bernachon is a chocolate-maker in Lyon that is widely regarded as the best in France and possibly in the world; it is a true chocolaitier, in the sense that it makes its products directly from raw cocoa beans and does not buy its chocolate from a couverture producer, and Bernachon himself has been awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker/Craftsman in France) which is the highest accolade you can get around here. Not only are the chocolates to die for (the salt-butter caramel-filled bars are frankly orgasmic), Denise is the ONLY shop other than Bernachon's own shop in Lyon to sell these chocolates. In other words, you can't get this stuff anywhere else. Not surprisingly, the Bernachon chocolate bars cost 9€ each.

So, after spending nearly 70€ there (mostly gifts for people, but a few for me as well), I took care of my other food-shopping needs, and headed home to start cooking the hens for tomorrow's meal.

A few days ago, I got an email from Anatoly, informing me that Batofar would be closing for 15 days starting on May 31. He sent me this press release, which is rather nebulous about the reasons for the closure. From what I can glean out the first paragraph, there were some complaints made against the boat-bar-club (this is that club I've often talked about that is in under the deck of a large boat) and they've received warnings from the police, and then just recently they heard from the police that there will be a 15-day mandatory closing. It's still not clear which complaints and/or warnings brought this about, nor what sort of infraction warranted a mandatory closure.

Either way, it seems that the recent and rapid residential development of the neighborhood is taking a toll on nightlife. Batofar is moored on the Seine less than 1km from where I work, which is in the "new" neighborhood around the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This area used to be stockyards and other such industrial stuff, but when they installed the BnF there, suddenly there was a huge construction push that included a mixture of office buildings and residential ones. Now, the strip of boat-bars and boat-clubs along the Seine at the foot of the Tolbiac bridge have to contend with yuppie residents (these new apartments aren't cheap) who can't countenance the idea of having active nightlife near their fancy digs.

Anyway, Batofar will be back by June 15th, but the future for the club isn't clear, since the new residents of "Paris Rive Gauche" (the real-estate-ad name for the area) are here to stay...

mardi, juin 05, 2007

Parcels and Transatlantic Moves

Today after work, I finally decided to get a start on moving my crap back to Chicago. I checked with the receptionist at my department at the University of Chicago to make sure she was OK with the barrage of boxes, and then swung by the post today to ask about pricing. Strangely enough, it turns out that buying one of those pre-paid mailing boxes is cheaper for me than preparing my own boxes. La Poste's extra-large "Colissimo" packaging costs 38€ for a box that will take about 7kg of weight, while the same amount of weight by standard international postage is 73€ (or 53€ by economy, which involves surface transport). Anyway, I bought three of the XL pre-paid boxes and hopped the bus home.

While I'm looking forward to seeing Chicago again and the comforts of a larger apartment with all of the good stuff I had (i.e., kitchen gadgets, PS2, a decently-sized TV, etc.), I'm once again reminded of how much of a hassle moving is. There is something profoundly distressing about the process, especially as all the details of storage, transport, etc. start to pile up in the remaining days before your departure. Also, as I learned last August before coming to Paris, moving from one town to another on the same continent is one thing, but moving to a place where you can only take two suitcases with you is a far more complicated thing. Ack! I think next time, I'll just sublet my current apartment before leaving for Paris or elsewhere, and just leave my furniture and such in place.

Anyway, once I got home, I quickly realized that I had more than 3 x 7kg of books, so I filled each box a bit more than halfway with books, and then stuffed sweaters in the remaining space. Now, I have to think of a way to get this all to the post office...

lundi, juin 04, 2007


Ah, tartiflette, cheesy potatoey meaty dish of the French Alps. Carla and her friends had left me a half-round of reblochon cheese (which comes from the mountainous Haute-Savoie region), so I decided to try to duplicate the dish we had tasted in Le Mans last week. I didn't have the recipe myself, so I used this recipe from the French Wikipédia, along merged with ideas from this recipe and whatever I could recall from the tartiflette I ate in Le Mans the week before. I must say, the results were freakin' delicious.

Luis's Freakin' Deliciuos Tartiflette


  • 1/4-cup of butter or duck fat (or vegetable oil, if you wanna be like that)
  • One large onion, diced finely
  • 4 thick slabs of bacon (low salt) or poitrine fumé if you're in France, cut into think strips / lardons
  • 3 or 4 shallots, diced finely (optional)
  • garlic finely chopped (to taste, but I put in about 5 cloves)
  • 500-750g of potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes (or enough to fill your casserole / pan
  • 250-500ml of white wine
  • 250ml / 1 cup of crème fraîche
  • 1 round or half-round of reblochon (depending on the surface area you need to cover)
  • a handful of fresh rosemary chopped finely (optional)


  1. Put the onions, butter and ham together in a large, deep pan and put over a medium-high heat, until they begin to brown. If the ham is fatty, you can reduce the amount of butter.
  2. Reduce heat and add the garlic and the shallots to sweat them out, taking care not to burn them.
  3. Put the potatoes in the pan and sauté the whole mixture, until the potatoes have started to absorb the fat in the pan.
  4. Add white wine, leave on medium-low heat, and cover until the potatoes are almost cooked through.
  5. Mix in crème fraîche, and rosemary if you have it.
  6. Take your roblochon and gently scrape off some of the while bacterial bloom with the back of a butter knife or a spoon. If you have a whole round of reblochon, cut into quarters, if you have a half round, cut in half again. Cut all the pieces crosswize (horizontally) to expose the soft centre.
  7. STOVETOP VERSION: Lay the pieces of cheese, rind-side up, over the potato-cream mixture. Cover the pan and leave on low heat until the cheese has melted into the potatoes (approx 20 min).
  8. OVEN VERSION: Place mixture in a heat-safe ceramic or cast-iron casserole, and place the cheese, rind-side up, overtop. Put into a rather hot oven (450F), and cook until the cheese has fully melted and begun to brown.
  9. Serve!

dimanche, juin 03, 2007

More departures and a bit of quiet

NOTE: I finally have the posts up for the last four nights out! There was the Minimal Kills vs. Quattrocento party on May 25th, Nathan's B-day party on May 31st, my outing with the daughter of a prof of mine the next day, and Loco Dice at the Rex on the 2nd of June.

Phew! After several weeks of running (pretty much all of May, when I think about it), I decided to dedicate today to rest, rest, rest. Today was the final day for the departures pretty much all the U of Chicago students at my residence, so I found a veritable pile of bags full of non-perishables by my door when I got up today. A lot of the stuff was useful and I can hand over to the next group of students, but some of the stuff was clearly an attempt to avoid taking their crap to the dumpster. Either way, I'm going to have to do my best to shunt this stuff onto the next group of kids, because I'm leaving by the end of the month.

Anyway, I slept in very very late, and then rolled out of bed and checked my mail. Then I took a nap. Then I did some blogging and answered some emails. Then I took another nap in the light of the setting sun. Then I did something I hadn't done for ages: play a video game. That's the sort of leisure activity that I simply have no time for usually (alas). And so it went for the rest of the evening.