Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Painfully Glorious Swim...

... and no doubt the last this season although only a day or so ago. Very cool water; clear and slowly moving, with the lapping waves corkscrewing along the pebbled beach.

The sensation of cool water awakening after the perspiring strimming of steep Arab gardens up the mountain slope. Was I getting more numb or just becoming used to the low temperature?

I parked the van, and with bag in hand walked down to the lake edge, through the trees and along the path above the beach, the sunshine of mid-afternoon October autumn glinting on the soft water. One or two yachts could be seen out towards the middle of the lake; a sailing school of small dinghies being towed by an instructor in inflatable boat and a rushing Navibus commuting across the water from Thonon-les-Bains towards Lausanne in a streak.

Further up the beach a white board sign announces or warns, the plage thereafter is given over to naturist bathers, one or two of who I could see in the distance, all men, standing strategically behind low bushes. In the height of summer this must be rather nice but I felt this was neither the time nor the place for me. I was here to swim and not to lie naked in the low sun of late afternoon. I changed between the thin strip of pebble beach and the large autumnal leaves of the rough vegetation shielding the beach from the paths behind and walked out into the water. It was liberating.

I lasted barely 10 minutes...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Risotto aux Cepes for 2 lovers...

Simplified recette...

150 g  Carnaroli or Arborio rice
180 - 200 g cleaned weight of fresh ceps (cepes, bolets, porcini) as those shown above, sliced.
3 times volume of rice in hot vegetable stock including the amount of wine, vermouth or Noilly Prat you want to include.
1 shallot or small onion
1 small clove of garlic
olive oil
25 - 30 g butter
50 g grated Parmigiano (Parmesan)

Chop finely the garlic and shallot or small onion. Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heated small casserole pan and sweat the garlic and shallot until almost transparent.

Add the rice to the pan and stir making sure all the grains are well coated in the olive oil. Add the wine or vermouth. I prefer to use vermouth as it has a fuller flavour and all the old recipes from Italy I always found said vermouth, but, as I live in France I like to use their version; Noilly Prat. When the wine has been well stirred in and almost absorbed completely, add ALL the hot stock.

Bring to boil and as soon as those little bubbles start to breaking at the surface season it with salt and freshly milled pepper depending upon how seasoned your stock already is. Turn heat to very low and leave it for 10 minutes.

Now add the sliced ceps, (cepes, bolets, porcini) stir them in carefully to make sure they are well mixed cover the pan again as before and leave cooking for a further 5 minutes. At the end of cooking time, turn off the heat & leave the pan to sit for at least 5 minutes, if there is any liquid left in the rice, leave it for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and butter, until you have a creamy risotto...

Pull a cork out of a bottle of your favourite wine and enjoy with the one you love...

Who knows, it might just have the desired effect?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bones Amongst The Stones

 My beach spot from where I plunged into 14C lake waters and swam for more than 20 minutes in exhilarating freedom...
Out of sight? Well almost; the blue tinted distant shore of Switzerland and Jura mountains across the lake from Thonon-les-Bains from where I bathed, today. Wonderfully liberating.

broken mountain,
rocks fall
at lake edge
small pebbles freckled.

mirror calm,
this sometime violent
inland sea.

Freshly cooling skin,
warm to swim
my feet colder in green depths,
colder still below,

where bones lie amongst the stones.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Site of yesterday's 10 minute dip in 16C temperatures near Amphion... no one around, the occasional single skulls on the water's flat surface skimming past further out...

The cool water chilling me as I breast stroked through and gradually warmed. A wonderful sensation of freedom.

Dear Diary, please remind me to do this again...