Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Road Trip 2011

Some of the best ideas are hatched over a few grappas too many, and some of the worst as well. Where this rates in that grand scheme of things I leave for you to decide. Nonetheless, a grappa-fuelled idea it were...

A friend of mine and fellow guzzler of the grape juice happens to have in his possession the rather nice old automobile pictured. It's his mum's in truth but he swears that he can do it up a bit and get it roadworthy. So, old grappa smarty pants says: "That's brilliant, once my kids are both at school let's take it round Italy!"

The idea has now taken legs and the Grappa Road Trip 2011 is firmly on the agenda. One month where two men (one 100 per cent Scot, the other a half-baked Italian) take a leisurely drive around Italia seeing the sights and sampling the spirits. My excuse is that it would make a book, a Scotsman's introduction to Italy combined with an Italian's introduction to the wonders of British car design. Or something like that.

Anyway, enough rambling. I need a start and finish point and a few things we "simply must see dahling" in between. My inclination was to start in Trieste as, strangely, my grandmother was named after the city (Dinora Ridenta Trieste if you can believe it). Maybe end up in Sicily? All input gratefully received. And do you think the car will make it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

A bizarre Sunday.

I had a rather bizarre experience for me on Sunday. As I headed back to Leith on the bus it suddenly occured to me that the grappa I had a few hours previously had actually been the LOW point of my day. A confusing experience for this grappaholic.

The grappa was served in Edinburgh's Lazio restaurant and, to be honest, was as rough as some of the bars that the restaurant shares Lothian Road with. Granted it was only £2.10, which is the cheapest grappa I have been served in an Edinburgh restaurant, but the sandpaper effect on my tongue confirmed my old granny's saying of "you get what you pay for".

Fortunately my day had these other highlights to make up for the grappa disappointment.

1. Celtic coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Hibs.

2. Seeing Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile in concert.

3. Falling in love with Italian actress, Olivia Magnani in Consequences of Love at the Filmhouse. These photos show why..........

Friday, November 24, 2006

One enchanted evening

Well, I did manage to go out for that meal with my wife at a poncy modern cuisine-type restaurant. It turned out to be a memorable night for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the place was completely and utterly EMPTY. It has an upstairs and downstairs section and there appeared to be nobody in either. That didn't exactly make for a great atmosphere and I felt the waitress (who was lovely) seemed more than a little embarrassed by the situation. Still, we weren't going to let that spoil the night.

I had a seafood risotto to start (or risoni as they called it) which was more than passable. My main was duck breast in a plum sauce with noodles. The duck was good and tender but, unfortunately, some unnecessary salady stuff had landed at the side of the dish. One for my one ingredient too many book. My wife had a goats cheesy tartlet thing to start (very tasty but again on a bed of too much rocket) and an amazing vegetable curry which came on a huge frosted glass plate. Pretty tasty and an impressive layout.

The whole experience was sweetened not only by the company but also by the fact that with expert eye I had spotted something on the menu at the start of the evening. Grappa £1.65! You little dancer. A night out with the wife AND an unexpected grappa. La vita e' bella...

Friday, November 17, 2006

A momentous day

I don't like to tempt fate but, what the hell, this is shaping up like a famous day. The reason? I am taking my wife out for a meal.

Now we have been out for more meals than most of you have had hot dinners over the years but this one will be the first in months. We have done a few lunches but this is the first evening meal, I think, since Junior was born in March.

I don't know why but I've voted that we go to one of these fancy modern cuisine places which almost certainly neither of us will like. I always think they operate to a policy of "one ingredient too many". There are often too many flavours and the dishes are too complicated for their own good. Also, the chances of a grappa are slim.

Still, I intend to have a good bottle of wine, turn on the charm and remind my wife of why she married me. First, however, I need to remind myself...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cosa manca oggi?

I remember my old Nonna used to have a piece of cloth in her kitchen which carried the headline "Cosa Manca Oggi?" - What is missing today? Down the front it had a list of household goods and little plastic pegs at the side to mark them with. It was designed to produce the weekly shopping list years before Tesco online was invented.

However, I was recently on a trip to Selkirk (I know, don't ask) when I dined out in a fancy hotel in Melrose. Having settled a dispute between the couple next to me about the ingredients of Pesto sauce I partook of a reasonable meal. However, at the finish I realised there was a problem when I looked down at the table in front of me.

Espresso, perfectly acceptable, six out of ten kind of brew. But a big space next to it on the left where something else should have been. And it made me think to myself "Ma Cosa Manca Oggi..."