Monday, September 19, 2016

LE TERMINUS, CRUZY - RESTAURANT REVIEW

When Cathey suggested that we have lunch out on Sunday and that we stick close by, Le Terminus immediately came to mind. It's just down the road, we've eaten there on several occasions, and we've always enjoyed it. So I was surprised to find that I'd never fully reviewed Le Terminus as I searched through my blog. True, it appeared on a couple of lists of restaurants worth a visit. But a formal review? Nope. Couldn't find one. So here goes.

Located in the old train station between the towns of Quarante and Cruzy, the new young owners have created a thriving, bustling dining experience. In the summer, there are tapas nights with music. Special meals are featured on major holidays, even for take-out. The 16 euro lunch menu is always interesting. So Le Terminus is a local hotspot. On the Sunday that we arrived, the shabby-chic main dining room was fully packed. (And a bit noisy...) And the 16 euro weekday formula menu had morphed into a 30 euro menu. But one expects paying a premium for quality weekend dining.

I was a bit surprised at the extent of that premium, but more on that later.

A small dish of lucques, local olives fresh off the tree, greeted us at the table. No amusée bouche was forthcoming. We chose from the aforementioned 30 euro menu. Cathey started with the rouget (red mullet). Properly (barely) cooked, the two little filets came on a bit of greens with a slice of grainy toast,\ with red pepper tapenade and a chunk of chèvre de Combebelle (the especially fine local goat cheese) underneath. Just perfect. I chose an off menu recommendation from the server, an assortment of cured hams. Tasty, enough for two, and the cause of the aforementioned premium. (Wait for it...)

We both chose the Charolais beef tartare for our main, topped with shaved Parmesan, light greens, and bits of dark toasted olive crumble. You either like tartare or you don't. We do. To be special, the tartare has to be fresh, really fresh, and naturally sweet. It was. We were both quite happy.

I chose a chocolate confection with a caramelized crust at the bottom for dessert. (See the pic.) I've said it before. The French know chocolate. Scrumdiddlyumptious. Cathey's baba was the one disappointment. For us, a baba is about the sponge and the rum. This baba was confined to a cutesy Mason jar and covered in a thick and unnecessary layer of chantilly. It's considered a specialty of the house and, from the number of servings that came out of the kitchen, it's a customer favorite. Had she known, however, Cathey would definitely have tried something different. Not a total loss, mind you. Just not Cathey's idea of a baba.

With a bottle of Mas de Cynanque rose (local, clean, bio, at 13%) and a bottle of still water, the total bill came to 92,65 euros. That's about 12 euros more than I expected. Why? Apparently, my choice of the cured hams at the start meant that I was off the formula and ordering a la carte. Maybe my French wasn't good enough to understand that would be the case when the server announced the choices. But it was a surprise and frankly, if I had realized that would be the case, I might have ordered differently.

Water under the bridge. A fine meal, prepared well, presented well, served well. We'll be back...and be more careful when ordering off menu and choosing desserts.








Sunday, September 18, 2016

IRA’S BLEND #47: BROC/TROC/VIDE-GRENIER FINDS



IRA’S BLEND #47: BROC/TROC/VIDE-GRENIER FINDS
Broadcast 18-9-2016
Host/Engineer: Ira
For: ex-patradio.fr

Listen to archived show on Mixcloud HERE

Norah Jones – Sunrise
Norah Jones – In the Morning
Norah Jones – Don’t Miss You at All
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Joni Mitchell – Coyote
Joni Mitchell – Amelia
Joni Mitchell – Black Crow
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Elvis Presley – That’s All Right
Elvis Presley – Blue Moon of Kentucky
Elvis Presley – Good Rockin’ Tonight
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Genesis – Living Forever
Genesis – Domino: Part 1 – In the Glow of the Night, Part 2 – The Last Domino
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ZZ Top – My Head’s in Mississippi
ZZ Top – I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
ZZ Top - LaGrange
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Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana – In Bloom
Nirvana - Lithium
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Etta James – At Last
Louis Armstrong – A Kiss to Build a Dream On
Sarah Vaughan – My Funny Valentine
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Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes – Fever
Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes – This Time It’s for Real
Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes – Snatching It Back
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Youn Sun Nah – Jockey Full of Bourbon
Lisa Simone – Autumn Leaves

Saturday, September 17, 2016

TROUBADOURS ART ENSEMBLE, CRUZY - CONCERT REVIEW

Different lineup. But same music...

One of the unexpected perks of living in this region of the south of France involves the interest in history, both political and cultural. And the cultural history is rich and diverse given the waves of influences that have washed over the region. The Troubadours Art Ensemble's recent program in the Eglise Sainte-Eulalie in Cruzy exemplifies the interest that diversity holds for local audiences as well as the pleasing - and somewhat surprising - professionalism of many of the presentations that we have had the pleasure to attend.

Well over 100 people attended the free concert on a recent Friday evening. To my surprise, there wasn't even a donation basket in evidence - a free concert that was totally free! I'd never been in Cruzy's church before. It's a fine example with an impressive altar piece, fine statuary, several side chapels, and the wonderful acoustics that allow for easy listening to vocal music without amplification. A quick search revealed little detail but I'd wager the church was built in or about the 11th Century.

The concert by the Troubadours Art Ensemble titled Musica Mediterranea featured music of the 12th Century troubadours of the region as well as traditional sephardic and North African music. The six presenters all played instruments, some modern, some traditional. Three sang with mezzo Sandra Hurtado-Ros demonstrating the strongest voice. Abdalatef Bouzbiba played a modern-looking violin in the style of a rebec and was the featured vocalist for two North African pieces, one an impressive acappella turn. Leader Gerard Zuchetto's light tenor got lost occasionally behind the instrumentation but that's just a quibble. 

Highly professional by any standard, offered to an engaged, appreciative audience. Catch the Troubadours Art Ensemble if you have the chance. Check out their music on HERE. Neat stuff.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

IRA'S STUPID STUFF AND ARETHA - MID SEPTEMBER 2016

1. Researchers looking in places with high incidences of traffic congestion have found magnetite in peoples' brains, not the natural type but the stuff that comes out of car exhausts. The natural type is found in the plaques in the brain that often accompany Alzheimer's Disease. So car exhausts may cause...

Shit!

2. My Granny could run the 100 yard dash in 9 seconds flat. Uber is a ride-sharing service. Which of these statements is true? Did you answer NOTA (None Of The Above)? Good for you. Because Nana might have been quick, but she wasn't fast. And every Uber driver travels from the mall to the grocery store to the burbs and back again and back again and back again every day and is just looking to share the cost...

3. Continuing on a car theme...Headline: Paris Police Thwart Car Bombing
A car parked in a No Parking Zone near Notre Dame Cathedral, hazard flashers flashing, without license plates, sat for two hours before the police investigated. They found that the car had seven gas canisters inside, one empty. There was no detonation device. If they'd only let the car alone for another day or two, maybe a meteorite would have hit the car and exploded the canisters.

4. Profs teaching a course entitled "Medical Humanities in the Digital Age" said that they were not going to debate the causes of global warming and that those who wished to do so should not take the course. Internet breaks. It's getting hotter. It's hotter this year than last and hotter last year than the year before. If you don't believe that the 'pause' in warming is a hoax, you don't believe math. The trend line is undeniable.

The course in question is about the effect of that undeniable heating and not its cause. Would it make sense for profs in a paleo-archeology class to suggest that persons who believe that Earth was created 6,000 years ago might not benefit from the course? You betcha! Every point of contention is not debatable in every context.

5. Apple paid an effective tax rate of 0.005% on its European profits. So, after a three-year investigation by the EU, Apple got hit with a 13,000,000,000 euro back tax bill. CEO Cook calls the ruling 'political crap'. IMHO, the definition of crap is the deal that Apple made with the Irish government. I couldn't make that deal. You couldn't make that deal. Nobody that we know could make that deal. Put on your Man Pants, Apple. Get taxed like the rest of us.

6. Geneticists have determined that human hands probably evolved from the tail fins of fish. Maybe not stupid, but interesting. Don't you think?

Carole King was honored at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She was blown away when Aretha sat at the piano to play and sing RESPECT. So were Barack and Michelle and everybody in the audience and everybody who has seen the video. Neat stuff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

IRA'S BLEND #46: JAZZ VOCAL STANDARDS



IRA’S BLEND #46: JAZZ VOCAL STANDARDS
Broadcast 14-9-2016
Host/Engineer: Ira
For: ex-patradio.fr

Listen to archived show on Mixcloud HERE

Diana Krall – Dream a Little Dream of Me
Arthur Prysock – I’m Through with Love
Chet Baker & Kenny Burrell – You’re Mine You
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Natalie Cole – Ask a Woman Who Knows
Dianne Schuur – The Very Thought of You
Helen Merrill – Born to Be Blue
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Jeri Southern – If I Had You
Gladys Knight – Since I Fell for You
Michael Buble – Too Close for Comfort
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Anita O’Day – Crazy He Calls Me
Cassandra Wilson – I’m Old Fashioned
Brian Blade – Brother
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Queen Latifah – I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl
Morgana King – Bill
Tony Bennett w/ Bill Charlap – I Get Along Without You Very Well
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Chaka Khan – Lullaby of Birdland
Aaron Neville – Cry Me a River
Dorothy Dandridge – Stay With It
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Billie Holiday – God Bless the Child
Rosemary Clooney – Deed I Do
Teddi King – A Cottage for Sale
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Shirley Horn – Fever
Dianne Reeves – Oh Lady Be Good
Johnny Hartman - Unforgettable
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Betty Carter – You Go to My Head
Blossom Dearie – Someone to Watch Over Me
Bill Henderson – At Long Last Love
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Fred Astaire – Steppin’ Out with My Baby
Jimmy Rushing – Every Day I Have the Blues
Buddy Greco – The Party’s Over