Au revoir mes amis

C’est la fin de l’Académie 2012


The French Film Festival tradition in my family goes back to my senior year of high school.  That was 2001 – the ninth annual festival, and the first time I had ever heard of it.  Ever since 2001, my sister and I have made it a point to buy a pass and “live” at the Byrd for the weekend.  We enjoy catching up, having a glass at CanCan Brassérie, bringing brie and a Jean Jacques baguette into the cinéma, and sitting front and center of the theatre to take in all the movies.  We go to the reception bump into all our old francophile friends, and then we do it all again the next year.  Over the years I have seen the Festival grow from a Fri-Sunday celebration of cinema to this year’s week-long stretch of French cinema projections and lectures.

The pass and ticket prices have gone up over the years, and yet it is still worth it for this one weekend where you can walk into Carytown and feel immersed in French culture and language; you can sit in the Byrd, and you can feel like you are at a cinéma in France. Ça vaut le coûte.

Just in case you are on the fence about attending either as a pass holder for the whole weekend or taking in a movie or two, I have a few good reasons to check out the Festival which is happening March 29-April 1:

  1. This is the festival’s 20th year!  What does that mean for you, dear attendee?  There are some free films playing throughout the weekend.  These are films that were presented at the first annual festival – Héroïnes, Avoir 20 ans dans les Aurès, and Cyrano de Bergerac will all be playing for free throughout the weekend of the festival.
  2. There’s a movie for everyone!  There are two shorts series for those not wanting to sit through a feature length film, there are satires, comedies, thrillers, political movies [Sarkozy], movies about French authors [Camus], and even a rugby movie!
  3. Mathieu Kassovitz – he is going to be here to present his film, L’Ordre et la morale, a story about a hostage situation in Ouvéa Island, New Caledonia in 1988.  You’ll know him for his role as Nino in Amélie.   Well, he’s much more than the adorable face of Nino.  I have seen his other movie, La Haine, which brings to light the injustices and racial inequalities in the suburbs of Paris.   I can’t wait to see his film and learn more about this snapshot of history he will be sharing at the festival this year.
  4. The reception – if you have a reception add-on to your pass, you’ll be enjoying foods from some of the best Richmond area restaurants, including the new Bistro Bobette .  Not only will you have a chance to sample different wonderful foods from local restaurants, you’ll have a chance to rub elbows with the actors and directors who come to present their films.  Although there are question/answer sessions after each film, it is so much nicer to be able to converse with our French guests, and practice speaking French!
  5. Fils de Jo:  Did I mention that there is a rugby film this year?  I played rugby at VCU, and find it refreshing to see that five years later, America is catching on [thank you, NBC for covering the World Cup on basic cable]. Thanks to the Kirkpatricks for projecting a rugby film, which sounds like it is definitely more than just about rugby.

Check out the festival program here.

About a month ago, the VCU ladies had a rugby match against the VMI ladies.  Since I was making the 3 hour trek, I figured I would somehow con the Nut into making the trip with me and we’d stay in a super sweet bed and breakfast and tour Lexington.  Although we loved the little town, we could have done without the snow and brutal wind that made it bone chilling and miserable to walk around in.

We stayed at Stoneridge, a bed and breakfast about 10 minutes from the heart of Lexington.  The family that runs it is super sweet, and are such fabulous hosts.  There was a spiced hot lemonade which was so delicious.  The next morning we were the first guests up, and benefited from a lovely conversation over coffee in the kitchen with our hosts.  For breakfast we had an onion and mushroom fritata with a white wine sauce.  It was divine.  I had been in one of my “I-don’t-feel-like-cooking” ruts, and after the weekend at the bed and breakfast I went back home cracked open my recipe books and started enjoying the art of cooking again.  New recipes posted soon.  Until then, enjoy the photos from our Lexington, VA weekend!

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rugby queens


A few pictures from the VCU v. W&M rugby prom match yesterday.  They were beautiful! So proud of our ladies who finished with a score 26-12.

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I wish I had had a pen to note down exactly what it was that Paul Mehling said a few Sundays ago.  It was along the lines of black and white cinema being “a keyhole into the past,” a passport to see what life used to be like, in the way of dress, mannerisms, even language.

He was on point when he made this observation.  I had the distinct plaisir to have seen him and his Hot Club of San Francisco at the Cinéma Vivant spectacle at the University of Richmond.  Over the course of a couple of hours, the musical talents of the HCSF charmed us while the visual prowess of Charley Bowers and Ladislaw Starewicz stimulated our thoughts.

Using three films, one from Charley Bowers and two from Ladislaw Starewicz, they paired French jazz à la gitaine to complete the experience.  Similar to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the spectator was whisked away to an alternate era.  An era that the spectator found more glamorous than our own, more intriguing, more thoughtful, more adventurous.  Some alternate universe where the spectator would rather be.

Although you can check out the wonderfully playful and hilarious Bowers film, There It Is; the tit-for-tat battle between grasshopper and cockroach Starewicz film, The Camerman’s Revenge; and Starewicz’ snarky, “dark” comedy, The Mascot all online, it simply does not convey the same message as it does when projected with the plucky, playful, energetic sounds of the Hot Club of San Francisco.

Even after the filmstrips have long been packed away and the Cinéma Vivant has moved on to another city, the transient sounds of playfulness, adventurousness, boldness, and raw energy still delight my ears during my morning commutes.  I feel like I’m receiving postcards from Gypsyland.

I wish I could give a recipe for this one, but here’s the closest I can do…Yes, I am still posting Thanksgiving recipes…

One potato/serving

Stick of butter + a little more

Some milk

Some half/half

Some sour cream or cream cheese

Garlic cloves

Penzey’s Country French Vinaigrette

Boil potatoes, drain and allow to cool.  Peel and rice potatoes.  Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for a moment.  Add riced potatoes.  Add a few dashes of milk, mix.  Add milk according to preferences.  Toss some half/half in if you’ve got it…Put a few more squares of butter in mix it up. Add either a few spoon fulls of sour cream or half a package of cream cheese, mix.  Add some of the spices and voilà!

Just a note, you don’t have to rice the potatoes…you can just smash them.  Since this gal works with just a whisk, the ricing helps make the taters more manageable…You can always add in bacon or cheddar to spice up the leftovers too!

Family verdict.  They loved it.  Especially our Irish guest, who I believe is a connoisseur of all things potato…

My verdict.  It was good.  Thicker than usual.  I used cream cheese, because I did not have sour cream.  It’s good, I prefer the sour cream…

So I got this recipe from a newspaper flyer, Relish, that comes out pretty frequently in the RTD…

Funny story, I didn’t read the recipe well enough because I thought this just made one.  So I defrosted a gallon size bag of pumpkin from our summer garden.  I thought we would end up with 4 pies…Ha! We made four and froze filling for 4 more… This is ridiculously delicious.  Seriously.  Makes a great breakfast too.

2 9” deep dish pie crusts

1.5 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon clove

1/2 teaspoon allspice

4 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 [29 oz can] can pure pumpkin not the pie filling

2 12 oz cans of evaporated milk.

Preheat oven  to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all spices in one bowl.  Beat eggs in a large bowl, add evaporated milk.  Add pumpkin, mix well.  Add brown sugar, mix well.  Add spices, mix well.  Once you have mixed well, pour into pie molds.  DO NOT freak out that the mix is VERY liquidy.  Trust me, everything will be ok, just bake it….Bake pies for 15 minutes at 425.  Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake another 45 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of pie.  If it comes out clean, it’s done!

Check back soon for my easy peasy pie crust recipe which makes the pie even better!