Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beans and Meat. Cook For A Long Time. Eat.

I love to eat and in my opinion nobody does it better then the French. Say what you will about France but damnit they know how to live - good food, wine, coffee, cigarettes - uh huh, I have to get there some day. My problem with travelling (other then the fact that I have a job and three kids and a finite supply of bread which makes world travel a little difficult) is that when I go somewhere it almost always remains at the top of the list of places I want to go to. So I've been to London and Scotland and Ireland (twice now) and if you were to ask me where I want to go next I would say London and Scotland and Ireland. I was in Dublin last winter for meetings but I had a weekend there and my evenings were free and so I was able to do a nice wander about the city and I saw plenty that I did not see my first time there and when I left I felt that I had a feel for the city finally, the type of feeling you can get when you spend time in the city with the people who live there and you take the time to lose yourself in the crooked backstreets and alleys, drinking pints in old pubs and walking around St. Stephen's Green looking at statues of the poets and patriots. So if I was to be given a week tomorrow and the time and freedom to do it I would likely get a plane and get back there and walk along the Liffey and duck into Neary's or John Mulligan's for a pint and then maybe run up to Howth for dinner with friends.

Despite the fact that I want to go to France and I know it would be one of the best things ever. Goofy, huh?

So for now I just have to enjoy eating French food whenever we can get out for it which is rare with the baby. There are great French places but we dig Indian and Thai as well for starters and then there's your thousand other restaurants a stone throw's away (if you have a good arm) and then of course there is the fact, already mentioned, that money doesn't emerge from my ass whenever needed. Anyways, there is a French joint a short distance from our house, one of these little hole in the wall joints that you stumble upon and that just blow you away. Like most French restaurants here it is small and intimate and warm and like most French restaurants here (the one I have eaten at anyways) the food and wine are terrific.

When I was there last I had cassoulet. That shit knocks my socks off, all the meat and beans and the sauce. I've always wanted to make a cassoulet but the problem is that it involves two days of preparation.

I don't have two days to spare right now and if I did, lets be honest, I wouldn't make myself a cassoulet but damn, if it isn't an example of that old saw about good things coming to those who wait.


Wednesday night Marc Pouliot is going to get a chance to prove that he is cassoulet and not something else that ages a little less gracefully, like say, jerky. We've been waiting for Pouliot for a while now and the fact that nearly every other first rounder (and plenty of second rounders) from his draft class have become NHL stars have made the rangy centre a target of discontent. It never figured to be this way. The kid was no Niinimaki, a reach pick out of nowhere; he was rated highly and he just hasn't lived up to his promise. He looked dandy in his first shot with the club but illness derailed him and since then it has been more or less indifferent and inconsistent play that have shuffled him in and out of the lineup. Late last season he stuck and his results were reasonable - he wasn't filling the net but he wasn't getting buried either.

A fine camp this fall and conditioning finally not an issue and a fair performance in the first quarter while playing mostly on the wing and finally Pouliot seems to have earned a shot that many had him pegged for before the season - tough minutes between two veterans in Cole and Moreau.

The experiment may last ten games or it may last ten minutes but for all the speculation that MacT is not a fan of the young Quebecker is belied by the fact that he has stuck in the lineup while others have not and his icetime at even strength has consistently topped ten minutes for a while now. It appears that he has earned his shot and here is hoping that he takes it and runs with it. This team needs a big right handed centre who can do the tough lifting and while Pouliot may not be the answer he has earned his chance. I saw him play in the famed "Penalty Shot" game against the Leafs, his best game as a pro, and the kid has hands, can skate and can do things with the puck at high speed in heavy traffic that show that there may be something more beneath the surface then we think. He may be a nobody with a fringe career or he may be the type of guy who scores ten to fifteen goals a year while doing the heavy lifting. Some might say that a guy like that is a dime a dozen but the Oilers of the past few years have lacked exactly that type of player and the value of such a player cannot and should not be underrrated. Remember Peca and Pisani in 2006?

You can cook a terrific meal in twenty minutes but others, just as tasty, take time.


Swabbubba said...

oh an what an analogy I feel I should dress to comment. Not much of a fan of French cuisine. I do enjoy a good curry... where balance of hot and cold is key. To me anyway.. very untrained palate. Although my tip anyone is avoid grits at all costs that stuff will kill ya.

I am down for a player slowly developing. The rush is on though

George B said...

I am for a player slowly developing that was intended for development. This was a terrible pick with plenty of better options.

If I see the Oilers PR come out with "Worked hard on a terrible team..." I am going to woof my cassoulet.

Black Dog said...

Good one George.

As I said though he was rated highly by everyone, not just the Oilers. Believe me I wish they would have come up with any of the other long list of options available now that we see where these guys have ended up.

But it wasn't a reach pick at all at the time.

Its pretty shit though considering we're still hoping he develops into a serviceable pick while the Ducks have two guys picked after him (is that right?) near the top of the league in scoring.

Sometimes you hit. Sometimes you miss. This miss hurts a lot.

Showerhead said...

Just wanted to say I am past the point of casual admiration and that moment of "oh wow, that's how he ties it to the Oilers!"

I have now entered the somewhat uncomfortably zealous area of "thank God there is such a blog as Black Dog Hates Skunks, burn the infidels!"

Really, I'm actually quite worried ;)

namflashback said...

To me he looks much like Horcoff did when he started. Up and down the lineup. Played in all three forward positions. Played with all sorts of different teammates (from MacIntyre to Cogs and Cole).

Did what he was supposed to. Low risk, play the system. He'd get spot duty higher up, and even if he played well, was put right back down on the 4 line. Less icetime than the nine usual suspects. I think the 20 GP were MacTavish saying, "I know you have the 1-way contract -- so you are assured a job, but I want to see you live up to the - play any role I ask you to" requirement of being a MacT center. Cassouliot has traditionally started slow, so maybe MacT wanted to make sure that he was past that stage. I hope he doesn't just give us a taste, but a whole tasty helping.

BTW, speaking of LA in town -- saw Dustin Brown absolutely hammer Regehr with a perfect and clean hit. Seriously winded Regehr. I fear a little for our defensemen tonight.

Marc said...

Come to London. Coolest city in the world. I can promise an epic pub crawl.

doritogrande said...

French food has too much cholesterol for me. Cooking bacon with butter just doesn't do for me. Being an established Perogy-maker, I have to gravitate towards Ukranian cooking. It's simple, it's flavourful and uses local ingredients. That and the vodka that accompanies every table.

I've been to France, back when I was in elementary and wasn't all that impressed. It's a dirty country and doesn't seem to care much about being that way. The art and such however, can take your breath away. The thing I remember most is driving the highway between France and Belgium in a POS Volkswagon Westvalia eating baguette with cream cheese watching all the Audis and BMWs zooming past.

Black Dog said...

Marc - coolest one I have been to, not that I have been to a million of them, but I would say London would be number one for me; Dublin is pretty damn close though, just a different type of city altogether

I've seen enough pubs in each to say the Dublin ones win though. So far.

Nothing is like London though. My God, what a place.

dg - bacon and butter? Two of my favourites. Perogies are up there too though.

namflashback - good comp - of course the difference for fans is Pouliot's pedigree makes them mental

showerhead - thank you sir, I appreciate it

hunter1909 said...

One of the best meals I ever had in my life hands down was in Paris. In a tiny, jam packed bistro whos walls were literally lined with thousands of full wine bottles.

No one spoke English except this mad looking French skinhead cook who came out of the kitchen and was laughing hysterically at everything we said.

Finally the food came...3 potatoes, sausage, and a vegetable. That's it. And it was one of the best meals I've ever had. For 20 euros a head. That's real French cooking. Simple, understated and to the point. Like hot french girls, now that I think of it, lol.

While I'm on topic of the French I also noticed that France's winning soccer team in their World Cup Final winning game seriously looked pattern wise like the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, but soccer. Counterattack, killer defence, and a seriously cool attack when it counted, all with a great great goalie. It amazed me to think that French people no matter where they come from have the same approach to these two games.

You have to wonder what Brazil or Germany would be like if only they were any good at hockey.

It's hardly surprising that MacT doesn't like French players. If MacT's food preferences were put into hockey players, it would be the A+W that my parents used to take me to on 7th avenue.

Marc said...

Well next time you're in town I'll give you a tour of London's finest and you may be forced to admit that London has the best pubs anywhere.

I could even tailor it to your particular interests. Only pubs that are more than 400 years old for example. Pubs where writers used to drink. Architectural gems. Never having to walk more than 500m to the next good one. The choice is yours....

Black Dog said...

marc - someday, though I may be dragging three kids with me ;)

when we were in London we hit quite a few, the ones I remember most fondly - The Duck and Dog and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

I like the historical ones best of all.

When I was in Dublin in February I hit over a dozen pubs in the city centre, all of them over a century old. Great stuff.

Marc said...

Those are both great pubs. A friend of mine used to manage the Dog and Duck. You've probably been the a lot of the good ones in that area then (The Blackfriar, The Olde Bank of England, The Seven Stars, the Mitre and the Lamb being the can't miss ones in my opinion).

The best old pubs are in the East End though, right on the river. In particular the Prospect of Whitby in Shadwell, the Gun on the Isle of Dogs and the Trafalgar in Greenwich. There's nothing better than sitting in a pub that's 400 or 500 years old with a pint of Adnams or Timothy Taylor Landlord Bitter and watching the boats go by.

Black Dog said...

I can't remember any of those off the top of my head Marc. I had a list of them in mind but we didn't hit as many on my list as I would have liked.

We did not get out to the East End at all. I'm intrigued.

My other trip to England was for work but we got out into the Derbyshire Dales for an evening (my boss is from Gloucester) and stopped in an old village pub, five hundred years old or so. And then on the weekend I got away to York and saw some beauties there too. Although the oldest pub in York (something Star I think?) was a huge disappointment. It was like walking into a TGIFs at Tampa Airport.

But when we were in London we went cycling in the Cotswalds for a day and hit a couple old village pubs then too.

One of my favourite things to do.

My wife is talking about London a little bit lately so maybe I can convince her to make a return trip in a year or so.

Marc said...

Village pubs can be brilliant. One of the best things about hiking/biking here in the UK is that there is almost always a nice little village pub to stop in for lunch and a pint. Not sure if you made it over to Oxford when you were in the Cotswalds, but it's definitely worth a visit. It's a beautiful town. There's also a pub there called the Eagle and Child, where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to go drinking together every week. One night they got really liquored up and wrote a letter to the barman saying that the Eagle and Child is the best pub in the world, signed by everyone in their drinking party. The letter is now framed and mounted on the wall.

I've not been to York, but that doesn't surprise me. Most pubs here are owned by large corporations (both the Dog and Duck and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese are for example). Some restore the old pubs and use that as a selling point. Others gut the insides and turn them into the same kind of bland, soulless place you can find anywhere. It's a real shame.

If you do make it over here, let me know. I'm here for a few more years anyways, so I'd be happy to show you around.

Black Dog said...

Yeah Marc I noticed that about a lot of the old pubs we visited in London. As you said, some were left as is, like those two, others were ruined.

Thanks for the invite, if I get over there I will surely take you up on it.