Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All I want for Christmas

When you get to a certain age, Christmas is more about the kids than it is about you. Still, be honest, you'd like to get a few of your favourite things on 25 December. Strangely, mine have never really changed from about age 12.

What I would love to get for Christmas:

1) Ipod Touch
2) Play Station 3
3) Scalextric
4) Some kind of internet radio/wireless music system.

What I will actually get for Christmas:

1) A jumper
2) Nice shirt
3) Maybe after shave...

I dont want to seem ungrateful because I will like the jumper, shirt and maybe after shave. It is just I would get so much more excited by a gadget. Ah, we boys never grow up. I think it is an overrated pastime anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting the festive feeling

A double-header, can I cope? Out on Thursday night with the boys then the following evening with work colleagues. That used to be water off a duck's back but, then, I used to be able to sleep in or snooze in the afternoon. Now I have two kids and those are not really options.

It's not so much that I can't still do the drinking, I just can't recover. I end up tired and grumpy for about three days after the event. Hardly an endearing combination. Still, we shall see how I get on. Strangely, going Chinese on both occasions which is unusual - although Friday night is more modern European meets Chinese.

I will keep you posted.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An evening with a hero

Adelmo Fornaciari - better known as Zucchero - stopped off in Glasgow last night. It was an event no Scottish Italian could miss. So, of course, I was there.

My first memory of hearing his music was when his hit "Con Le Mani" was used on some television advert in the late 1980s (I think). I was immediately hooked by its beat. It started me searching out his back catalogue and following his career. From the great Oro, Incenso e Birra (Gold Frankincense and Beer) and beyond.

Anyway, the Loch Lomond Suite in Glasgow's SECC was the intimate venue for his only Scottish date. And it was among the most pleasant couple of musical hours I have ever spent. His voice is holding up well despite the fact that he is now in his 50s. There were some good rocking numbers and a few more gentle-paced songs too. Personal highlights were "Diamante", "Per colpa di chi" and "Diavolo in Me".

The dialogue with the audience was minimal. "It's better to speak in good Italian than bad English," he explained. "Many British acts come to Italy and we don't understand them." That was the sum total of his chat for the night.

It was just a good, old-fashioned gig with high class musicians and a singer who knew how to get the best out of his songs. It was all over too soon but not before the voice of Luciano Pavarotti echoed through the hall on the haunting Miserere. An emotional and powerful package. Grazie mille, Zucchero.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lidl goes Grappa!

A humble hunt for cut-price food - this is the credit-crunch you know - produced unexpected results this week. There, stacked among the 50% off veg and strange imported snacks, was a familiar-looking bottle. Could it really be?

Yes, that slightly gold liquid was well-known to me. On the shelves of supermarket chain Lidl there appeared a bottle of grappa! At an acceptable price of £12.99.

Now, I know what you are asking - did you go and buy it? Well, the answer is not yet. Somehow, I had some reservations about the quality of the brew. What has happened to me?

I feel bad even as I write this. Call myself a grappa man and I turned down the opportunity to purchase a bottle? Changed days, I fear, changed days...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eating for Dumfries and Galloway

I have been trying this crazy experiment for a week, attempting to eat only food grown or produced in Dumfries and Galloway, the region where I live. It might have been easy for those who like meat and two veg for their evening meal every day. For a Scottish-Italian who loves his pasta it has been a bit of a nightmare.

The nice thing, however, has been going into little shops and farmers markets. Places where the conversation amounts to something more than "Would you like help with your packing?" followed by 59 beeps from a cash-register and then "Would you like cashback?".

The food DOES, by and large, taste better. Once you get over your fear of a big slab of meat or a fish tail or some such that doesn't come pre-packed in clingfilm it is actually quite nice. You feel a bit like a hunter-gatherer of old.

Still, be glad to get back to the pasta...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear my trousers rolled...

It is Thursday, therefore I shall go out. I sped back from a scriptwriting course just to meet my friends for a good meal. It was a Chinese. Should I, as an Italo-Scot feel ashamed? Should I shun the noodle and the fried rice?

Most importantly, can I admit my love of Chinese food is largely due to the woman pictured above? Ching He Huang has made the cuisine both fashionable AND sexy. Something which has largely failed most people. Except, perhaps, Nigella when she talked about Italian food and nipped down to the fridge for extra dessert in her dressing gown in the middle of the night.

Oh lord, I am an old fool...

PS. We had a platter of ribs, seaweed, spring rolls, chicken wings and satay skewers followed by sweet and sour chicken, crispy beef and duck in a chilli sauce. Heaven.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hurrah! And then not hurrah!

I have been away from this blog too long. I realise it is one I can only turn to in my hour of need. Or, when I read a story like this...

Could it be that grappa comes full circle? Remember the old brew they used to offer you with a rag in the top and watch your face for a reaction when you drank it? Well, apparently they want to make it legal.

The mind, quite rightly, boggles.

I can picture it now - Acquavita dal bagno di Ginkers, Grappa Cucina di Martino or even Spirito di Cencio! Heck, any fool would be looking to brew their own. Now where are those grapes the kids just threw away...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grappa goes legit?

I was sitting down with the wife the other night wondering what to watch on television. The kids were safely tucked up in bed, a nice meal consumed, it was time for some mild entertainment.

And what better than the tried and tested format of Mastermind? There were a couple of decent specialised subjects (The Godfather Trilogy and something else which I have forgotten). And you can always get a few general knowledge answers.

But there, in the grand final, the programme's crowning glory, what did I hear? A question about my favourite drink! "What do you call the Italian liqueur made up of all the old guff left over after wine-making?" asked the quiz meister. I nearly choked on my post-prandial espresso.

Ah, that it has come to this. What next - Oz Clarke and James May's Grappa Tour?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Go on, give the kids a treat

It is nearly Easter so why not look at a sweet treat for the kids? But this year, forgot all the chocolate eggs - give them doughnuts instead. I like to think I have found the perfect ones here!

Can you imagine the fun you could have with these little beauties? I bet you will never have such a peaceful Easter Sunday as the children snore away the afternoon...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

That it should come to this!

The headline sent a chill down my spine...

"More bikies charged over grappa shooting!"

That the nights out with the boys should come to this!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Co-author finds fame?

What is this I see before me? Under a thinly-veiled pen-name have I caught my co-author entering the world of novel writing?

Surely he would have used a less obvious nom-de-plume? And yet listen to the plot details and you will realise it has his fingerprints all over it.

"The book follows Poppy Shannon as she goes from a spoilt little rich girl to a lose it all poor girl.

"The subject is a familiar one, but the way Reilly deals with it is not.

"Her (His) dialogue is the funniest ever - I have read most of her (his) books now - still trying to get my hands on Is This Love though.

"The book starts as Poppy's husband informs her that his business partner has run off with the company profits.

"He tells her that they have to sell their huge house, downsize and move to suburbia.

"For Poppy, who has lived in the best places all her life, this is a major shock."

Talk about writing what you know!!! Lived in the best places? Sounds like Leith to me!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Honey Grappa!

Grappa Honey? Now there's two words I'd like to hear Monica Bellucci whispering in my ear at the end of a meal!

However someone in Italy has came up with a different way of combining them. The above was an unwanted Christmas present for someone at work and being a generous soul and knowing that I partake of a grappa or two every now and then, he decided to pass it over to me.

Grappa Al Miele does sound like a strange combination but as it is only a miniature bottle I have to admit I'm intrigued enough to have a wee taste. Well, what have I got to lose? Although I did notice that the manufacturer is La Benedettina. My Italian isn't that great but is this something to do with Benedictan Monks?

Is this Italy's answer to Buckfast!!??