Saturday, February 13, 2010

A hard-earned win

It was a tough competition, but I finally prevailed. This test of wills was legendary; two committed foes convincing themselves that a tiny chip of soap no bigger than a finger nail was sufficient for cleaning. At times the drama was tense. Who would blink? Would the soap chip dissolve at last? Would it go down the drain if dropped? The stakes were substantial; the loser, broken of spirit and faced with the prospect of a rinse instead of a proper shower, would be forced to take a new bar of soap from under the sink, remove it from its box and place it in the soap dish.

Like anything in life, the worthwhile things are not easy. While proud of my accomplishment, I am humbled too by the tenacity of my foe. She didn't back down. She just could no longer see the soap, it was so small and thin.

And now, I am off to take my own shower, blessed with an almost impossibly large brick of soap with which to clean. And the next Battle of the Soap Bar begins.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Monkeys in Paris!  Unfortunately we have no pictures to share of the Continent ringing it in;  it was foggy and damp here in Paris and there weren't any fireworks to dazzle us.  

In 2009 we took a few minor scrapes (broken collarbone, pneumonia), lost some family and friends (June, Terri, Dylan), and missed the rest of our family and friends because of the distance.  But on the whole, living in our little bubble in the City of Light, it was a good year. We are lucky. The economy has not been friendly to many of our relatives and friends back home and the world continues to prove it is a dangerous place. The Monkeys can only hope that we've turned the corner and 2010 is a great year for everyone.  We will certainly do all we can to make it a fantastic year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Il neige!

We've had our first snowfall of the year, and it already outpaced anything we saw last winter. It was at least an inch and half in Paris, and probably accumulated more to the east and north. And, we're due to get more tomorrow and Saturday. 

A very nice way to enter Christmas week. It will probably be gone by Monday though.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

French beer tasting

France is known for wine, of course. There certainly is a lot of it here, and relatively cheap too. But sometimes, you just want a nice beer, like when watching a football game or eating chili.  France doesn't have a lot to offer in readily available beer.  There's plenty of Heineken and a sea of good Belgian beer, but the common French beer tastes a bit like goat pee. 

So after over a year of wandering in the beer wilderness, I finally visited La Cave à Bulles ( near Les Halles and spent almost an hour talking to the owner. Upon learning I was American, he was proud to show me the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Porter he had in stock. I left dragging home a trolley full of French artisan beers, all recommended by him as the best in stock of their respective styles.

What follows is the tasting notes of each of the first 3. I will post more as I try them.

#1:  Volcelest, from Brasserie de la Vallée de Chevreuse. Blonde, 5.7%.  This beer produced a good frothy head that stayed throughout the drink. It was a bit hazy, as many of these turned out to be, with a buttery gold color. The nose was of a yeasty hay, or kind of like a musty barn, but in a not-unpleasant way if that makes any sense. Obviously a bottle-conditioned beer. The first sip reminded me of Sam Adams lager (odd, as this was an ale) with a coppery flavor and excellent balance. I noticed a strong crystal malt influence. It had a medium mouthfeel, appropriate for the style. As the beer warmed a bit, the copper gave way to mandarin orange and light toffee flavors.  This is a very well-made beer and I will look for it again.

#2:  Etoile du Nord (North Star) from Brasserie Thiriez. Blonde houblonée.  I knew before opening it that this would be a... ahem... distinctive beer. With a green bottle (against which I am very biased) and a big picture of hops on the label, this was going to a slap-your-face beer one way or the other.  Leaving the bottle it produced a frothy, thick head and carried a heavy hop aroma with some skunk from the green bottle. The first impression was that of alfalfa-laden horse manure, in a sort-of unpleasant way. The beer had good clarity and a rich yellow color. The taste was spicy, and the back-end hops smacks the tongue like a whip. Fortunately, the skunk flavor dissipated quickly (or maybe I just got used to it), leaving a dry, citrusy taste encompassed in a nice creamy mouthfeel. If you love hops, you might like this beer.

#3:  Page 24 with chicoree, by the Brasserie St Germain. Blonde-ish.  Page 24 came out of the bottle with a healthy, soapy head.  The nose was a bit soapy too, herbaceous from the hops.  It had a pretty bronze-amber color that was only a bit hazy.  A distinctly hoppy front-end followed with a slightly sweet orange flavor.  The balance was off, with no middle flavors and a bland vegetal follow-through. The whole experience reminded me of a beginner's homebrew.  It wasn't awful, but I won't be buying this one again. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bike riding in the Bois.

Today I took a sort of memorial bike ride through the Bois de Boulogne in honor of a friend of ours who fought hard till the end but lost her battle with brain cancer.  She is now pain free and in a much happier place.  This could not have been a more beautiful autumn day.  It was a great bike ride.
Because I took a lot of pics you will find more on the next blog.
One last thing-Enjoy life to the fullest, don't sit around waiting for life to happen around you.  Terri never did.

Bike ride pictures number two.