Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pauline a la plage

Pauline a la plage (1983) is a superbly balanced story of four people who meet, where else, at the beach,  becoming entangled in a delicate mesh of amorous misunderstandings. Marion has taken her fifteen-year-old cousin Pauline on holiday to the Brittany coast and there meets Pierre,  an old boyfriend. Almost immediately another, older man, Henri. It has to be said that Henri is un roue vieux, a libertine of sorts. The recently divorced Marion is of course immediately drawn to Henri, despite Pierre 's earnest confession that he is still in love with her. 

Marion is classic Rohmer, her high-minded ideals soon undermined by her own actions. Of course this is done without malice for her, it is simply the way we humans prefer to live our lives.  " A wagging tongue bites itself" is the motto of the film, the third in the Comedies and Proverbs, and thus it proves for Marion. (And yes, it's another very talky Rohmer film, brimming with lively debate and dialogue.)

Henri and Marion getting to grips

All this emotional to-ing and fro-ing is observed with equilibrium by Pauline. And of course Pauline has a little love interest too in Sylvan, whom she meets also a la plage. Their attraction is uncomplicated by the standards of the adults, but Pauline is drawn into their machinations by Henri, acting to save his own skin. For Pauline it's a bruising encounter with the double standards of the adult world. 

Pauline a la plage would make a great YA novel. The teenage characters are deftly and convincingly captured by Rohmer, an absolute master of the late adolescent years. 

A final, not insignificant pleasure is the Brittany coastline in late summer: though there is a glimpse of Mont St Michel, the season is the wind blown, low slanting light of late summer. Not the postcard France yet all the more affecting for it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


So the solution to the where to get the buche de noel turned out to be pretty simple. Do it yourself. A quick search of the intrawebs, a couple of hours to weed out the totally chocolate versions and, eh, voila! I made it myself.

You will just have to take my word that, though. I followed this recipe from the BBC website.

I had plenty of raspberries and should have used more in the filling. (Should have read that part a little closer!) But it was enjoyable and surprisingly easy. The roll is a meringue-sponge and not as fragile as I feared. The result was a real crowd-pleaser and very, very tasty. 

Next year I will experiment and try for something lighter. All that cream...but a happy alternative to pudding.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paris swings

Earlier this year we spent three and a half glorious weeks in Paris. Just Paris. In March and early April the weather is cool - even the locals long-faced. Still, we spent a fair amount of time checking the playgrounds. One, because you can't spend all of your time at galleries and cafes (maybe not all), and two because the playgrounds of Paris can be fantastic. 

My good lady wife wrote this story about Paris playgrounds, published in The Age travel section. 

By the way, I am Paris dreaming again, thinking of winter time trip next time. So any advice, tips or information on traveling in France en hiver warmly welcome! 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Buche de Noel

One of the joys of Christmas in recent years has been Buche de Noel, the 'Christmas log'. 

Christmas pudding is never a bad thing, I love it of course, but the Buche de Noel is something else. Essentially a sponge-cream roll with chocolate and fruit you get all the calories and not so much the pudding's heft. It's light, it's sweet, it's creamy.

Anyway, such thoughts were in my mind today when I hopped into La Parisian Pates in Lygon Street. Would LaPP have B de N this Christmas? No, they haven't for the past couple of years. Though they are currently stocking up heavily for Noel.

So where to go? That's my project for the next month. Hunt the Buche de Noel. Game on.