LE REVAND, France: In one’s chalet you discover the perfect recipe for hot chocolate as the lighting cracks across the mountain tops. A culinary holiday, afternoons spent seasoning Thai green chicken curry and baking bread, is not a bad way to unwind over the summer.
Baking the bread, I admit, hasn’t been a success, as the French don’t believe in self-raising flour and I am not too sure about yeast.
Anyhow, I can buy scrumptious baguettes in the next village and a copy of yesterday’s London Times. But yesterday could just as easily be today, as there is only sunrise and sun set in the mountains, giving you ample time to tinker with the hot chocolate.
It is the food in France, it just tastes so good. With baby Max in bed at seven, all meals have been prepared in the chalet. I am no chef, but in France I am a little cordon bleu, if I must say so myself.
I’ve been turning out roasted pork chops in teriyaki sauce, beef casseroles splashed with red wine, grilled Savoie sausages and garlic mashed potatoes and of course that Thai chicken green curry just kept turning up as the plat du jour.
After three weeks, I’ll miss the chalet, but the party, baby Max and the luggage roll on.
What is it about holiday luggage? Apart from Max’s buggy, car seat, collapsible bed, laptop and camera, the family has packed all their clothes in one medium sized suitcase. But still we have brought too much.
Collecting all the T-shirts, jackets, jeans and shorts from the chalet’s draws, I put to one side all those items which were not used. Half of what we packed has still to be worn. The family must again adhere to that old adage; pack what you need for a trip, then half it.
With the family motto – live, love and dance – and the little Citroen three diesel packed with the dirty washing, a giant wheel of homemade cheese and a half bottle of cognac, the only destination was a rock ‘n roll festival.
So it was we rolled into Nyon, down the lake from Geneva, Switzerland, where we have friends and tickets for the 33rd Paleo Rock Festival.
Amongst the headliners at Paleo last week have been The Hives, Ben Harper, Mika, Manu Chao and Massive Attack. But for us, it is a one night stand and we’ll be losing our religion with R.E.M. amongst other acts on one of the six stages.
I’ll let you know next week how the middle aged poets and rock royalty performed and how their much hyped album, “Accelerate, sounded live, because the recorded version doesn’t exactly sink its claws into me.
If there are any middle aged rockers reading this and you fancy a festival, then Paleo is the one for you. In the past I have spent six consecutive nights on site and the organization of the camping, the food concessions and the lavatories all run with Swiss precision.
Forget Britain’s muddy Glastonbury or the Danes’ Roskilde; leave those for the kids. The Swiss have the big artists too, plus a world music stage, which this year is occupied by Brazilians.
There is excellent Thai chicken green curry, amongst other tasty delights, fields of sun flowers and the sunny Lake Geneva micro-climate. It is very much a family affair, with afternoons filled with water fights, games and art. There is a teenage stage, thousands of volunteers and a mellow vibe.
Three weeks ago I was dinning in a Paris apartment with the French Foreign Minister’s press secretary and the Middle East correspondent for London’s Financial Times and we discussed Sarkozy, his Mediterranean Union and all the heady issues of the day.
Of course, for the most part, life moves forward, bypassing those headline grabbing initiatives and groundbreaking policies. I’ll be back in the real world soon enough reading today’s newspaper instead of yesterday’s edition, though if I had one wish, it would be tomorrow’s newspaper today on my door step.
In the meantime, I am just dissolving two teaspoons of chocolate and cocoa in five millilitres of boiling water, adding two sugar cubes, 50 percent milk and 50 percent cream. Heat, but do not boil and serve in a bowl.