Monday, February 8, 2010

When You Are Engulfed In Flames

It's amazing how quickly a glass of wine puts one at ease after the drive out to the 'Dena.  Thus, we settled onto Red's newly white sofas and savoured the past month's gossip and une assiette de fromages.  They say a respectable cheese platter should consist of three to five cheeses, assorted as to country of origin, texture, flavor (mild, strong), or milk type.  Complimentary sides such as a bowl of almonds, sliced salami, or mixed olives add variety and color to the presentation.  Naturally, one would expect La Mademoiselle to be well-versed in matters de fromage, and our offering was nothing short of decadent:  D'affinois (Rhone, cow), Montbriac (Pouligny-Saint-Pierre, cow), and Humboldt Fog (Humboldt, California, goat).

Montbriac, soft, creamy texture, with blue veining.

Humboldt Fog, luscious with a subtle tangy flavor.

Most of the opening sequence was devoted to a comparison of our favorite online luxury retailers and their shipping policies.  Yes, ladies, this is important business, particularly since it led to the discovery that the Club of Books is actually magic.  One evening we decry those who aim to profit from their bulk shipping discounts, and the very next morning Gilt Groupe offers free shipping for the day.  A coincidence you say?  Oh ye of little faith.

For dinner we feasted on roast tri-tip, pommes dauphinoise, and haricots verts in a balsamic shallot dressing.  Lish!  But wait, there's more.  Never one to settle for the merely conventional, Red substituted Comte in favor of traditional Gruyere.  It was a tasty trade that rendered the crust of the gratin even more delightfully gooey.  Red recommends the Oxo mandoline over Zyliss.

 Pommes Dauphinoise

Oxo Mandoline, $69.95 at Crate and Barrel.

For dessert was that relaible standby, brownies a' la mode.  Like a trusted friend, always there when needed.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris, scored a respectable 7.4.

The good thing about books comprised of short stories is that one can come away with a sense of satisfaction even without reading to the last page.  The drawback is that the book as a whole is at risk for lacking the cohesivenss that comes from having a classic beginning, middle, and end.  In this case, however, the common thread tying the whole work together is Sedaris himself, whose outlandish and neurotic approach to life is the centerpiece of his distinctive brand of humor.  That one individual can land himself in so many offbeat situations is an impressive feat.  But at the same time it leads to questions... How does this guy remember everything?  Has he been taking notes on his life since the fifth grade?  Are these vignettes all drawn from his own experience, or has he placed himself in other people's stories in order to fill up the book?  What if some of the tales are made up entirely?  But, reader, if you can suspend disbelief then you are guaranteed to guffaw in bed when Sedaris gets trapped in the back of a New York taxicab while the driver talks about f*#%y  f#@k, or tests out the Stadium Pal in an attempt to "accessorize."  Sedaris is a master of taking these mundane and yet somehow familiar personal foibles and finding among them unexpected connections that give the story a bigger meaning.  Larry David, Ira Glass, and Jeannette Walls (the Glass Castle), to name a few, probably owe one to Mr. Sedaris, big time.

Memory Lane:  Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Feb. 2006).

Our next meeting is at Ms. K's house on Wednesday, March 3.  The Foxx is bringing apps, and Logan's Run is in charge of dessert.  We are reading Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay.  And we must, dear readers, give a What What! to my hometown N'awlins Saints.  Well done players!

Quarterback Drew Brees (9) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Saints' 31-17 win against the Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLIV.