12 janvier 2014

Décembre 2013 - Choix de poèmes

Our poetry evening ‘Choix de poèmes’ on the 11th December was a wonderful success thanks entirely to our members who selected and presented their choice of poems and to the lively and informative discussions which followed. 

A number of people expressed their pleasure at having been reacquainted with a favourite poem or at having discovered a new work. It was also interesting to compare the various anthologies members had brought with them. Some of the books were old but all were beautifully kept in keeping no doubt with the many treasured memories they contained.

First up, was Jonathan with Arthur Rimbaud's Le Dormeur du Val – a sensitive poem about a fallen soldier composed when the poet was quite young. Amélie was next with her rendition of Victor Hugo's Sur une barricade written in 1872. This was her favourite poem from an author we don't immediately think of as a poet.

An extract from L'Invitation au voyage by Charles Baudelaire was Margaret's choice. Reading from Douglas Parmée's anthology, Twelve French Poets, a text familiar to many at the meeting, she delivered the poem in such a way that one member who was already familiar with the text said that it was like hearing it, really hearing it, for the very first time.
My own rendition was Déjeuner du matin by Jacques Prévert. A deceptively simple poem, often studied in French primary schools despite its quite adult, mature theme. One of the members commented that the poem had a cinematic or theatrical feel to it. Prévert of course was also a screenwriter most notably for Les Enfants du Paradis. Incidentally, a full size cinema poster for that film, crediting Prévert, adorns the staircase wall of the Harp Bar, just opposite the Dark Horse.
Liberté by Paul Éluard was Claudine choice. Here the theme of freedom seemed to connect with other poems independently chosen for the evening. It was an appropriate poem to lead to an extract of a lecture - The whole thing: On the good of poetry - given by the late Seamus Heaney and voiced by his friend, Jim. Discussion around the extract led to a lively exchange on the value of reading aloud, hearing rather than reading the poem and the whole subject of translation.
All in all it was an excellent evening which members felt ought to be repeated in future programmes. As ever, the Dark Horse was the perfect venue – Warm ; comfortable seats ; soft lighting ; treasured anthologies and timeless literature.

03 décembre 2013

Bulletin mensuel - décembre

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be on ….
Mercredi 11 décembre 2013 à 19h.30in The Dark Horse Coffee House
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic : Choix de poèmes
Speaker : Nos adherents

Following the official business of the 2013 AGM, members spent a while reading some of their favourite poems. Indeed on that evening there were more poems than there was time to read them. Thus it was decided that one of our events this year should be devoted to our members ‘Choix de poèmes’.
Do you have a favourite French poem? Would you like to share it with us? Judging from the AGM we anticipate quite a response so members are asked to
...choose only one poem
...allow for approximately 6-8 mins to introduce and read it - or have it read for you if you prefer and
...please email details of your poem - Title/poet – to me by Saturday 7 Dec.

December seems the perfect time for such an evening and The Dark Horse will add that extra touch.

Fest Deiz
Take a break from shopping and sample the Christmas spirit French style by joining the December Fest Deiz onSaturday 14th Dec.
Amélie and friends form BreizhEire will be back in Madden’s Bar 74 Berry Street, Belfast from 5pm to 8pm with a session of Breton Dancing to set your feet a tapping.

French Films at QFT in December
Fri 29 Nov – Wed 11 Dec
Jeune & Jolie
From director François Ozon (In the House, Potiche), ‘Jeune & Jolie’ follows the journey of 17-year-old Isabelle (played impressively by model turned actress Marine Vacth) as she begins to explore her sexuality. After losing her virginity one summer, Isabelle embarks on a path of prostitution with mostly older men, ostensibly to pay for school, though clearly she is testing the socio-sexual boundaries set by herself and her family circle.
Jeune & Jolie was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is a “nuanced, emotionally temperate study of a precocious youth ” - Hollywood Reporter.
Dir: François Ozon
Cast : Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot , Charlotte Rampling
English Subtitles

Sat 7 – Thurs 12 Dec
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is an exquisite film; an honest and hair-raising study of first love, sex and a maturing relationship, capturing the confusion of teenage sexuality and the intensity of exploring its social taboos. Adele is a sensitive fifteen-year old student. Her days pass like many other until she realises that her sexual desires turn more towards her own gender than the boys who ask her out. After meeting a blue-haired stranger, the confident and assertive Emma, Adele soon finds herself tentatively visiting gay bars and, shortly afterwards, wrapped in the arms of her new lover. Then, her true journey begins.

Dir: Abdellat if Kechiche
Cast : Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos , Salim Kechiouche
English Subtitles

Mon 30 – Tues 31 De
Cinema Paradiso
A charming and heart-warming homage to the cinema, Cinema Paradiso is back on the big screen where it belongs. A real delight. The multi award-winning homage to the love of cinema tells the story of Salvatore, now a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the highs and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier.
Dir: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast : Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannaval e, Anton ella Attili
English Subtitles
While this is an Italian rather than a French film it is one of my all time favourites so I just had to mention it. For full details of all movies showing at QFT in December see www.queensfilmtheatre.com

I hope it is not too early to wish all our members and friends - Joyeux Noёl.
Hope to see you on 11 décembre.

A bientôt, Philip

19 novembre 2013

The story of Grand Marnier

There was a good crowd at the latest event in this year's programme from the Cercle français de Belfast  when "yours truly" gave the talk on Grand Marnier.  As usual the Dark Horse Coffee House in the Cathedral Quarter matched the proceedings perfectly.
I decided that it might be a fun idea to do a kind of Who Do You Think You Are? approach to the subject.  The concept of the popular BBC ancestry programme has made it into French, in Canada at least, where it is known as Qui Êtes-vous?
The first part of the enquiry then looked into the origins of the drink and focussed on Jean-Baptiste LAPOSTOLLE who, in 1827, set up a distillery to make fruit liqueurs in Neauphle-le-Chateau near Paris.  The story moved to his son Eugene who returned from travels with bottles of "burnt wine" - brandewijn - from the Cognac region.  He is said to have offered a taste to his friend Louis-Alexandre MARNIER who hit upon the idea of adding his recipe for bitter orange curaçao to the cognac.  A perfect marriage.
Louis-Alexandre joined forces with the LAPOSTOLLE family business and also married Eugene's daughter Julia Regina.  The alliance of Marnier-Lapostolle is still confirmed by the red seal and ribbon on bottles of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as you can see from the above picture.
At the time of the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889, the drink was still referred to as Curacao Marnier, that was until Louis-Alexandre's friend César RITZ brought his marketing skills to bear.  As someone who could spot a quality product likely to appeal to the rich and famous he prompted Louis-Alexandre to rename it Grand Marnier.  The "grand" prefix went against the trend of the time in referring to things as "petit" - Le Petit Journal, Le Petit Parisien, Le Petit Palais etc.  It caught on, quickly adopted by a well-to-do clientele.  Among these was the then Prince of Wales, Bertie, who went on to become Edward VII and who would have a considerable part to play in the building of the Entente Cordiale.
Our story took a brief aside to look at the career of César RITZ and his colleague Auguste ESCOFFIER.  There followed an appreciation of Crêpe Suzette with different suggestions as to how that dish originated and indeed how it is made.
We later considered how helpful Louis-Alexandre was to Ritz in helping him acquire premises in place Vendome to set up the famous Paris Ritz hotel.
The evening wouldn't have been complete without une dégustation and soupçons of Cordon Rouge were passed round for a sniff or taste.  That provided an opportunity to look at some contemporary marketing of the product including a video on mixing a long drink cocktail.
Members were delighted to see examples of some of the specialist bottles produced by the company and the blue bottle of 2012 depicting the Parisian Skyline was a hit!
One of the members, Sandra, had brought along her bottle - in case it was needed -  and we had a little more fun deciphering the number code on the bottle neck.
The first two digits indicate the year, in our case '13; the next three the day number of the year, so the 15th day of the year is 15 January and the last two digits show the hour in which it was bottled, in our case after 16h.00 and before 17h.00
Try this next time you pick up a bottle. It turns out that Sandra's Grand Marnier was in the bottle at 10h.00 that same day! Older!

Of course, we covered plenty more.  Members talked about how they preferred it as a straight liqueur, no ice or how they used it in cooking.  Some said that they had a bottle at home and knew precisely what they would be doing when they got back after the talk. Do you know we had exactly the same idea?

Were you there?  Anything you would like to add? What liqueur should we talk about next year? Bénédictine perhaps?

More information?
Check out the Grand Marnier website here.   Remember to drink responsibly and with style! Santé!  A la prochaine!