Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A new brew

It is always nice to see my old father return from Italy and even better when he carries with him a shiny new bottle of the good stuff. In truth, it is pretty rare that he lets me down on that front.

So, imagine my pleasure when he furnished me with a nice bottle of Torba Rossa made - so the bottle tells me - with smoked red grape stems.

Now, in many ways the imbibing experience is unlike drinking grappa at all. The colour is a pretty intense amber and the smell almost akin to a malt whisky. Even the taste is much lighter than a hardened acquavita fan would be used to.

Indeed, in some ways this looks like one of those "designer grappas" intended to make you part with a lot of money for what ought to be a good old-fashioned mountain man/woman's brew. The packaging is similar to the long, cardboard tubes which the finest whisky comes in. So the whole experience leans on the pretentious side.

Nonetheless, I had no problem sampling my first "dram" at the weekend. Yes, it is more refined than some may like and carries an almost delicate perfume. But, if it takes grappa to a wider audience I am not going to speak out against it. It also prompted me to tidy up my drinks cupboard which led to the discovery of a tiny amount of long-forgotten Grappa Moscato. So that takes my "collection" to three bottles!

Overall, it won't rip your throat out or burn what remains of your windpipe but it is a pleasant after dinner drink - especially if you don't want to feel its aftermath for a few days to come.

Rating: 71%.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Scotland Italy partnership

I celebrated Burns Night at my brother's on Thursday. It is a night when Scots traditionally have a Scottish dish (typically haggis) but I also have a duty on a Thursday to keep the spirit of the Giovedi alive. See Ginkers post "Say it aint so Giovedi" for the problems he is facing in that regard at the moment.

For this reason, even if I'm not going out on a Thursday, I like to have a plate of pasta, a glass (or two) of wine and finish the evening with a grappa. So what to do when tradition and duty clash? Fortunately my sister-in-law, who is the finest cook I know, came to the rescue. I supplied an excellent bottle of red which was accompanied by a fine dish of haggis lasagne.

And it was absolutely delicious.

Oh and of course I sneaked in a grappa before going to bed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

That's more like it

After my despair of last week it is only fair to post better news. My father is back from Tuscany and promises me he has a bottle of grappa which he secreted in his case for me. The anticipation, as always, is great.

I don't know if I mentioned this before but I have decided to escalate my grappa passion by endeavouring to collect as many bottles as I can. It is my ambition to invite friends round, have a good meal and then, with coffee, offer a variety of my favourite tipple. "Morbida, secca o fatta-in-casa-dio-mio-quanto-brucia?" will be available to all.

People are proud of their malt whisky bottles, I want a little mini-bar area full of grappa. OK, I'm starting small, I now have two bottles in the house. And a visit from Martino is imminent. The omens don't look that good for building the collection, do they?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Say it ain't so, Giovedi!

Anyone who has ever met me or cast a weary eye over this blog will know that Thursday is a special day for me. For the past 20 years or so it has been the traditional meeting night of the Giovedi Club. An institution of dishevelled, disgraceful and dissolute fellows which meets once a week to eat pasta and steak and drink red wine and grappa.

Over the years the dedication of its members has become legendary. People have rearranged holidays, travelled through six foot snow drifts and generally overcome all sorts of obstacles to make a "meeting". Nowadays, however, it seems that things have changed - for the worse.

How's this for a list of excuses? One is on holiday (reasonable but badly planned), one has been ordered by his mother to go to her house for dinner (feeble), one is worried about his waistline (astonishing) and another is packing a case for a trip on Saturday (disgraceful). I'm not even going to start on the people who come along and "really can't manage such a big plate of pasta!".

Has the lure of the grappa become so weak? Is my company really so bad (possible, but not to be seriously contemplated)? Or, as I suspect, has our new recruitment drive brought in some thoroughly soft members?

The club would never have started if people worried about their weight! The boys of the old brigade would not have dreamed of using such a lengthy list of feeble excuses for their absence. Is it time to call the whole thing off? Tonight it is just myself and my dad keeping the Olympic flame alive. Emergency! Emergency! Can anyone out there save the Giovedi?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Aglio, olio and ....

So, tell me something I didn't know. It turns out that the latest BBC series on food is claiming that garlic is Mother Nature's answer to viagra. The Truth About Food has been running trailers making the claims about the stalwart of Italian cooking pepping up matters in the bedroom.

What is so intriguing about this is that it would answer an ancient conundrum. I regularly go out on a Thursday night and fill myself up with red wine, grappa and garlic-filled food. By the time I get home I always feel, to put it frankly, pretty much irresistible. I had always put this down to the alcohol but clearly the Italian food is playing its part too.

However, with every answer comes another question. What is Mother Nature playing at? Clearly a cocktail of Montepulciano, Grappa San Martino and garlic is her idea of the perfect aphrodisiac. But why has she made the smell of these favourite ingredients so repulsive that the chances of getting within 50 miles of a woman are minimal? The only solution, perhaps, is to ensure your would-be partner has consumed alcohol and aglio in similar proportions...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not a dream beginning

This year has not got off to a flying start for me. Blogging, eating, drinking and being merry have all gone swiftly out the window - courtesy of a winter sickness bug.

For anyone unfamiliar with this little fellow he strikes lower and harder than a bad bottle of home brew grappa (see how he weaves in his usual thread?). The first attack came on my daughter provoking major collateral damage to bedsheets, pyjamas, cuddly toys and anything within a ten mile radius. Inevitably, that led to the wife being the next victim quickly followed by son and father. I leave it to your imagination who made the worst patient although if you guessed the 30-something male you would be correct.

It's been hard to contemplate anything, let alone my favourite brew of late. Indeed, going to bed every night has become something akin to walking through a mine field. Where and when will the next explosion come?