On Saturday night I was at the wedding reception of a former colleague at a small hotel in south west Scotland. A lovely, informal gathering and chance to catch up with a few people I hadn't seen for a while and dance about like a fool to a couple of Buddy Holly songs.
So what? I hear you ask. Why bother us with this tale? Show me the GRAPPA!
Well, I'm getting to that. As a habitue or whatever the word is, of hostelries across Scotland my expectation of most hotels is that either 1) They will not stock grappa or 2) They will charge you most of your monthly paypacket for it. Imagine my surprise then when, as I got the first of several rounds in, my eyes were drawn (like a moth to the flame or some such) to a dusty bottle of grappa.
Two questions flitted through my mind. Firstly, can grappa go off? And secondly, does it improve with age? Having answered in the negative to both I decided to bide my time, slurp a little more of the house Shiraz and work my way up to the grappa moment after the buffet (ample with the highlight a hefty Melton Mowbray pie).
So, I approached the bar with an order for a round of four drinks with a couple of them being grappas. I watched with concern as the delectable barmaid (that's probably no longer in any way politically correct) totted up on the cash register. It came to the moment when all grappa drinkers hold their breath. How much am I going to be stung for? £1.90 x 2 flashed up on the screen. Result!
Yes, just for you Edinburgh and London readers that's £1.90 for a grappa. Try getting that in your wine bars and brasseries or wherever you go! If you get change from a fiver you count yourself lucky. I could nearly get three grappas for that.
FILL YOUR BOOTS! FILL YOUR BOOTS! FILL YOUR BOOTS!
That was the message flashing through my mind but it was tempered by the brand of grappa up for grabs. It was a Nonino and any regular reader will know my reservations about that little baby. Still, it was a Vuisinar which, my guide book reliably informs me, is "delightful in both taste and finish".
Let me tell you, that is not what my windpipe was telling me at three o'clock this morning. It was asking me why I had decided to gargle with bleach the night before! I am out of practice, of course, but it came as a nasty shock. Undoubtedly the guide writers do not make their judgment on the kind of quantity of the stuff I had consumed...
So, that's my story from the weekend. It was just like old times, really, until my son woke up at 4.30am and decided it was morning. Grappa and a young family don't mix - unless you slip some in his formula the night before and he will sleep until noon. (That's just a joke by the way in case anyone is thinking of phoning social services).
Apologies for rambling, feeling a bit loquacious tonight...