Monday, 8 December 2014

217. Seasons greetings to all!

8th December 2014. Or, as they say here, "Zorionak!" I can't believe that Christmas is once again upon us and almost within touching distance.. From us here in a dripping Pays Basque (at least it's still not freezing) I wish all of you "out there" our best wishes for a very Happy Christmas..

A few posts ago (here) I listed some of the Eternal Laws of DIY that I've discovered during a long career of exercising what I laughingly call my craft skills. This is not an exhaustive list..! Carrying on from where I left off last time, here we go:

15. Never start a job on a Sunday afternoon.
16. You can never find the thing you need until you don't need it.
17. Someone will have used the last bandage/band aid the day before you do involuntary finger surgery.
18. The only known supplier of the part you need closed down last weekend.
19. The most useless tool in your tool box is the wrong size Allen Key!
20. Superglue is a must for many DIY tasks - it is guaranteed to rapidly and permanently stick objects to anything other than that intended.
21. Despite clearing up after a job and putting everything back on the right hook, in the right box, in the right place on the right shelf - things disappear.

This is an image of the Pays Basque that captures something of the brooding quality of the landscape here.
Jean Cazeaux

23rd December 2014.  I knew I'd forgotten to mention something.. About a week ago we finally made it to Chez Mattin, a highly recommended little restaurant buried deep in the heart of Ciboure. We'd known about it for a while and it had long been on our "to do" list.. but it had been another of those places that for some reason or another we'd never quite got around to visiting. I think it was because if we ever find ourselves in this neighbourhood at lunchtime, with the food "Low Level" light showing steady red and we want something fishy, we are normally drawn irresistibly to Chez Pantxua at nearby Socoa.     

However, not this time, Moriarty! We took the precaution of booking because a few weeks earlier, we'd (meaning me) had a rush of blood to the head and we'd swung by Chez Mattin one lunchtime looking to ease our way in, only to find that it was fully booked. (which says it all) 

It's simply furnished, almost in a "bar" style, but when listening to the owner reciting the specialities of the day, you quickly realise that this is a serious establishment.. A friend had recommended that we try the "Ttorro" - a rich fish soup with monkfish, hake, langoustines and mussels. 

I think this is an instance where a picture is worth a thousand words.. Served in a heavy copper pan, we ladled it out and savoured the rich steamy aroma that rose up.. The soup hid numerous great chunks of fish.. This was a dish that will live long in the memory. 
The wine list had caused me to pause - because there were some serious bottles there. In the end, we settled on a half bottle of the local Jurançon, a 2013 Domaine Cauhapé (Geyser). This was really a great white wine.. one to stop you dead in your tracks. I'll try and remember to keep an eye out for Domaine Cauhapé the next time I'm standing hypnotised in front of a few hundred metres of shelving in the wine department!

So - Chez Mattin - one to remember then.

30th December 2014. If there's anybody out still reading this, have a great night tomorrow evening and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015!