Friday, 15 June 2007

Smokey and The Bandits

When we lived in England, tabby cats were most common and I always wondered why Mother Nature bothered with that type of fur design. Since moving down here and acquiring such an animal I have realised two things.
One: how incredibly beautiful their fur is - the colour variations are actually strata on each individual hair!
And two: how superbly suited the tabby coat is for blending into stone walls and structures that are everywhere down here - a perfect camouflage! We actually have a picture of Smokey sitting on the ruin in front of our terrace which we bring out as a party game - 'spot the cat'.
Smokey is Nic's cat and I have to admit, not the brightest star in the firmament. We watched her tonight sitting on the wall watching Michael our neighbour cook the dinner in his outside oven (her favourite occupation!). Much to her astonishment, she became the target for 'bombing' hirondeles. Her head was going round and round like an owl's as she tried to follow their flight paths and not once did she attempt to catch them. In the end, she decided to ignore them and lay down. All my attempts at a photo failed to catch the birds in mid-flight but she deigned to look at me!
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Onto cheese again! We visited a Carrefour in Narbonne today to pick up a Father's Day present for Richard (he is into gadgets...) and saw a particular cheese we like that is difficult to find down here. We originally had it at the Arbousier restaurant in Lamalou when we first arrived. On asking the waiter about it, he explained where it came from, what it was and the fact that you have to be careful - there are two distinct types that are called the same but taste very different. Since then we have only found it at the SuperU at Agde. It is called Boulette d'Avesnes from near the Belgium border and is made from buttermilk flavoured with parsley, pepper, tarragon and cloves. It is moulded by hand into its distinctive shape, coated in paprika and sometimes washed in beer. It is well worth a try if you like unusual flavours, but watch out because one tastes too herby for me - I prefer the one that tastes like it has a bit of cumin in it.
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Talking about the Arbousier restaurant, this is one of Nic's favourite because (as she will be delighted to tell you!) it was where she visited with her class the first year she was in school here. Every year all the Lamalou restaurants liaise with the school to organise a food appreciation week. The children go to different establishments, are shown the cooking process for different dishes and get to taste them - all around a particular topic. That first year it was 'taste - sweet/sour'. That's hands-on education for you!

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