Saturday, 28 August 2010

Daydream Believer

I'm currently a little bit obsessed with this here song, by the always-wonderful Animal Collective and Vashti Bunyan, a lovely folk singer from the 60's with a voice a bit like a pan-pipe. Always a good thing, I reckon. This song is ideal for the moment you open your eyes in the morning and as you close them at night.... and every moment in between, really. 

Friday, 27 August 2010

Absoloute Dream Brownies

Our humble batch of brownies may not look much, but they sure as hell tasted amazing. One rainy Thursday, my two dearest chums and I set our hands at making the most ridiculously unhealthy baked goods around. And after more than one thumbs up for this particular recipe, we decided it would be rude not to give it a whirl. I strongly advise you to follow suit!

1. Break up 185g of dark chocolate, all the while exercising extreme self-control and not eating it (save for the odd rogue square). We plumped for Co-operative own Fairtrade confection, at the grand old sum of 90p, and I can tell you - it ain't half bad. 

2. Weigh out 185g of unsalted butter and - for want of a nicer word - mash it into the chocolate. As you can see it looks really quite unattractive, but have patience my friend. Pop it into a microwave for 2 minutes until it's transformed into a tasty chocolately sauce. Forget all about it for a while. 

3. Now is the time to put the oven on at 160 c and line a baking tray with foil. Weigh out 85g and 40g of flour and cocoa powder, respectively. Sieve it like nobodies business, as skillfully demonstrated by an excitable Jess. 

4. Now, chop up 50g each of milk and white chocolate into precise little squares. Alternatively, you could always just snap them in half if you're feeling lazy.. that's what we did, and it turned out just dandy. 

5. Crack three eggs into a mixing bowl, making sure to fish out any inevitable chunks of shell. That would be something of an unwelcome addition to your debut bite of brownie. 

6. Throw in 275g of caster sugar with your eggs, and set an electric whisk to the mixture until it's thick 'n' creamy, much like a milkshake. Make sure you keep swapping hands or have someone else to burden with the task, because it takes forever (well... about 8 minutes). 

7. By now, your chocolate and butter mix will have cooled down sufficiently, so you can begin the arduous process of 'folding' it into the eggs and sugar. The aim of the game is to slowly blend it together without getting too much air in the mixture. As you can see, it starts to looking pretty delicious round about now. 

8. Once it's all thoroughly mixed, it's time to add in your previously sieved flour and cocoa. Actually, you may as well sieve it again, for good measure. Fold this in the same way, until it looks pleasingly like actual cake mixture. 

9. Sprinkle in the chopped chocolate chunks, rejoicing in the fact that you may now eat the remaining chocolate, at long last! Stir furiously, then spatula the mixture into the lined baking tray. Pop it into the eagerly awaiting oven. 

10. Now you must face the longest 25 minutes of your life. Read trashy magazines, do a bit of Facebook noseying, whatever you like - anything to distract you from the chocolatey fumes wafting in from the kitchen. 

11. When those agonizing 25 minutes are up, it's time to seize it from the oven. Give it a little jiggle, because if the centre wobbles, it needs a few more minutes (sorry). If it stays firm like Beyonce's thighs, you're good to go. Well, almost, there's still the small matter of letting it cool down until it's not at a mouth-burning degree. Oh, and it should also be covered, curiously,  with what seems to be delicious brown paper. Give it 15 minutes and it's all yours...

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sweet Darlin'

Sweetest advert ever...?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Maude Loves Harold.

Until a few months ago, I had somehow got through life without seeing the truly wonderful 'Harold & Maude'. Immediately after my first viewing, I decided it was now one of my favourite films, even making it into my elusive top five. It's that good. For you unfortunate souls who haven't seen it, allow me to tell you a little about it. Nineteen year old Harold is a funny little creature morbidly obsessed with death, and his greatest pleasure in life is attending strangers funerals, driving his hearse and staging elaborate faux-suicides. His hilarious aristocratic mother decides it is time for Harold to get married (!) and so signs him up to a dating agency, with rather amusing consequences. 

Meanwhile, a familiar face keeps popping up at Harold's beloved funerals - the tiny, free-spirited and, frankly, genius Maude. The two soon become great pals, and before long, romance blossoms. There is only one teeny, tiny lil' problem - Maude is almost eighty years of age. This minor issue doesn't stop the two gradually falling in love, bringing joy to Harold for the first time in his short life. 

Of course, outsiders are thoroughly repulsed by the scenario at hand, with the local priest telling Harold: 'I would be remiss in my duty, if I did not tell you, that the idea of... intercourse - your firm, young... body... commingling with... withered flesh... sagging breasts... flabby b-b-buttocks... makes me want... to vomit.' And yes, they do eventually express their feelings in a physical fashion, but instead of actually showing them do the deed, we just see Maude blissfully sleeping whilst Harold casually blows some post-coital bubbles. It's more or less the best thing I've ever seen.

As ever, I shan't say too much for fear of ruining this delightful film for you. As well as being oh-so-interesting, it is a wonderfully comic film. Some of the subtle details are the funniest - for example, Harold's knowing look at the camera after successfully scaring off his first arranged date. Wes Anderson has named this film as both one of his favourites and most influential, and it shows - if you find his films wonderful, you'll like this, and vice versa. 

On a closing note, I need this poster in my room and my life. To any loved ones reading... treat me?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

These Days.

... Just because I can't get this song out my head today. Truly lovely. 

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Apricot & Almond Flapjack

T'other day, I baked up a storm with this rather delicious variety of flapjack. It was made using my previously mentioned recipe, merely substituting the crystalised ginger with a handful of dried apricots and almonds. Tasty! 

p.s. If you enjoy this combination of flavours, I urge you to try this - peel apart a dried apricot and pop in as many almonds as you can fit. Looks disgusting; tastes amazing. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

This Once Was An Island.

Imagine just being sat there, happily sipping away on your latte, when all of a sudden - Oh, hi! There's a bloody great orchestra in the cafe, and you're being treated to a once in a lifetime performance by the genius that is Zach Condon. One can dream. 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

And Your Mother, Too!

Thanks to my parents to my parent's LoveFilm account (ta!) I've been watching films like no one's business. I rented 'Y Tu Mama Tambien' purely because I really like saying the name, and it's meant to be pretty darn good. It definately lives up to all the hype surrounding it, but my overriding feeling was thank god I didn't watch that with my mother.

The film centres around two Mexican teenagers, Tenoch and Julio, who find themselves at a bit of a loose end after their girlfriends go travelling for the summer. In order to impress an older lady they both somewhat fancy, they say they are going on a road trip to a fictional beach called Heaven's Mouth. To their surprise, after she learns her husband has cheated on her, Luisa accepts their invitation to come along with them. So, they quickly rustle up an impromptu road trip to a beach they made up, with a perfect stranger! I shan't ruin the film for you, but let's just say things get pretty awkward after an ill-advised 'romance'...

I reckon this is one of the best 'coming of age' films I've seen yet (and lord knows I love that genre in films, books, TV shows, anything.) Fun little fact for you... 'Y Tu Mama Tambien', Wikipedia informs me, means 'Your mother too' which must be the Mexican equivalent of 'yer mam!'. The main trio of actors were pretty amazing, particularly Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, who are tellingly best friends in real life. It bothered me throughout the film where I recognised Luisa (Maribel Verdu) from - so I'll put you out your misery and tell you, she was Mercedes in Pan's Labyrinth! 

Apart from the standard 'growing up' theme, there is a political message throughout it concerning class and poverty, to add a bit of depth for all you highbrow types. And yeeees, there is a fair amount of sexy-times in this film, but it certainly ain't gratuitous as, bless 'em, the boys are all talk, no trousers. Having said that, I would whole-heartedly advise you don't watch this with kids, parents, or old people.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Viva La France.

Today, my lovely sister and her gentleman caller fled dreary Hull to galavant to the capitol of the world's most beautiful country. Paris, oui oui! I am so envious I could weep. On the bright side, they have promised to take plenty o' photos and Lo will bring me back a tiny bit of Paris as a belated birthday present. Being the kind sister that I am, coupled with my penchant for making a playlist for the slightest of occasions, I promised to make a soundtrack for their excursion. But, being the last-minute fools we are, this never made it onto her (dead) Ipod, so... here you go kids; a collection of the finest songs, à la Française.

'Moi Je Joue' - Brigitte Bardot

As well as being an actress, a snappy dresser and a pretty face, to top it all off, 'B.B.' was also something of a singer. How about that! You'll have no doubt heard this countless of times (and, perhaps, attempted to sing along) on Sofia Coppola's lovely advertisement for the delicious Miss Dior Cherie perfume.

'Nantes' - Beirut

This ridiculously lovely little number hails from Beirut's second album, 'The Flying Club Cup', which was inspired by Zach Condon's travels around Europe, not to mention his love for French chanson. 

'Bonnie & Clyde' & 'L'anamour' - Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot

Here are two wonderful songs from France's favourite enfant terrible and his (at the time) lover. In the former, please enjoy Bardot's pronunciation of 'Boneeeey' and the excellent line 'Moi, Bonnie, Je tremble pour Clyde Barrow'. As for the latter, well - It couldn't be more sleazy and 60's sounding, and I love him for that. 

'La Ritournelle' - Sebastien Tellier

From one saucy Frenchman to another, here is the wonderful Sebastien Tellier. Not too much to say about this, other than it is so easy on the ears, it simply can't fail to put a silly little smile on your face. 

My favourite song from the original 'Yé-' girl. It is one of those occasions where it sounds all giddy and upbeat, but once you read the lyrics, you learn she is lamenting how nobody loves her. Unlikely - have you seen this woman's face? And she's still a beauty now, at the ripe old age of 66! This snappy little number would be more than ideal for leisurely strolls down the Champs Elysees

'La Vie En Rose' - Edith Piaf

This beautiful song is the quintessential theme tune of France, from their biggest icon, so how could I not include it? Madam Piaf at her finest, and it's so very amazing. 

Admittedly, it's neither sung in French nor about Paris... but they are wonderfully French, and this song is too lovely for words, so I'm having it! 

'Sous Le Ciel De Paris' - Juliette Gréco

From the title alone, it's fairly obvious just what this is all about, but when I translated the lyrics this is one of the verses: 'Under the Bercy bridge/ A philosopher sits / Two musicians, a few loafers/ And then thousands of people/ Under the sky of Paris/ They will be singing until night falls/ The song of a people in love/ With their old city.' Perfect description, non?

'Comptine D'Un Autre Ete' - Yann Tierson

Simply put, a Parisian playlist wouldn't be complete without this eye-wateringly lovely piano number, from my all-time favourite film, Amelie. 

Maybe, just maybe, if I listen to these guys with my eyes closed, eating macaroons and drinking wine, I might trick myself into thinking I'm in France. Then again... perhaps not.