Monday, 29 September 2008

Blood red

Look at the wonderful colour of my peppers! And I like the way the are so knobbly and misshapen. Very appropriate at Casa Combo.
Sorry if this is a bit Under The Tuscan Sun (possibly the worst book I have ever read about Italy, lots of eulogising over food, beautiful sunsets, honest toiling peasants, cypress trees, you know the form) but normal service should be resumed from tomorrow; I am having a day off the sauce as it's Monday and I am filled with the usual post-weekend remorse.
Tomorrow there is a reception at a new university where, if I behave myself on the free drinks front, I may have the possibility of some work as a part-time lecturer.
So that's that one ruled out then.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Now that's what I call a real breakfast. Duchy sausages (grateful thanks to the marauding Celtic visitors), eggs from Riccardo and Peddy from The Intrepid One.
I was celebrating Genoa's fantastic 3-1 win over Roma yesterday evening.
Just the job. Yum yum, pig's bum.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Stuffed and Cellared

And there they are, those little fiery bleeders, all done and dusted, hunkering down in the dark cellar and waiting for Christmas.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Get Stuffed

In an almost certainly hopeless attempt to overcome the sweaty shakes and general nausea that is the result of a 4 dayer with The Intrepid Explorer and assorted other friends from Caerdydd and Lestah, I am starting on the stuffing of some of the Combo chilli peppers this being a sort of regional speciality. They are fiery little buggers so in the cleaning process, using the tool in the pic which is essentially a 'corer', I have to wear rubber gloves. Always a bonus. Once they have been cleaned I boil them briefly in vinegar and cheap white wine and when they have dried out I stuff them with anchovies and capers and jar them under olive oil. They will be consumed at Christmas, presuming I am still of this world.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

The shame! The shame!

Oh God, I'm sitting here at my desk, it's early in the morning, my head spinning with hangover, my stomach sick with nausea. The hunting season's started and the fields around here are full of fucking barking dogs. There's sporadic gunfire. There's a thick fog and it's cold. Why do I drink so much? Why did I drink so much last night? And then to make things worse, why did I berate the people we had round for supper so badly? It started off pleasantly enough of course. I had the Italian version of Radio 3 on and they were broadcasting The Last Night live from the Royal Albert Hall. I'd started the evening in the best way possible with a pint of gin and tonic and then raced along with a lot of red wine. When it got to Land of Hope and Glory I was plastered. Truly trolleyed. Ratfaced. So I stood up and started singing. Then when it had finished I started shouting. Shouting with tears in my eyes. Shouting that this (Land of Hope etc) was the reason that Italians had identity cards and we didn't, that Blair should be impeached, locked up in the Tower of London, executed and have his stupid grinning fucking mug stuck on a pole on Westminster Bridge as a warning to all the other bastards on the Fascist fucking left.
I seem to recall that it all went rather quiet when I eventually slumped back down on the table.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Cuore di bue

The tomatoes that I grow are very good, even if I say so myself. And so they should be with all the dung I had dumped on the plot (see distant post). The plants are just about at the end now. This is what I'm having for lunch today, the cuore di bue (bull's heart=beef tomato) with decent olive oil, fresh mozzarella, basil and good commie bread. No wine on the table as it is lunchtime, but as I sank two industrial G&Ts, a bottle of red and, bizarrely, a large calvados (where did that come from?) last night, it wouldn't be a good idea anyway. Very hot and muggy today, storms are forecast with a subsequent temperature drop of 10 degrees (in foreign money). Summer's on the way out so we should all start drinking more I say.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Chopper Action!

The state electricity company has been changing some bits on a - what is the collective noun for pylons? - a march of serious pylons that pass close by Casa Combo. This involved the use of a helicopter and a lot of noise and blokes swinging around from the top of said pylons on impossibly slim ropes without a care in the world. I got the willies just looking at them. Interestingly, I spoke to some of the climbing gang after they had finished this section and they all have the thickest accents from the Alto Adige/Trentino region.....where the Dolomites are! Climbing must be in their DNA.
Apologies for not having written for a while about drinking. To be honest I have been pouring so much down my fat chops lately that even I feel embarassed at my levels of consumption. Last Wednesday - just as a random example - I had two small 33cl bottles of Europiss at around 5pm; at six I fixed a Martini Rosso for Mrs Combo and but I customised mine with a decent slug of Beefeater, just to give it some backbone. With dinner I drank a bottle of Cabernet Franc, minus one glass for the good lady wife, bless 'er; after she had tootled off to bed I slunk down to the cellar and as quietly as possible drew off a couple of big (alright, huge) glasses of Barbera d'Asti from my excellent bag in box selection. I rounded off this tranquil evening with two sodding great grappas. The only possible chink of hope for me is that the spirits I drink are clear; never really been one for whisky or brandy. And I hardly ever drink at lunchtime, honest. But I'm clutching at straws, aren't I?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Fly the Flag Comrades

The local town has a bakery on virtually every street and, being Italy, it's difficult to buy poor bread just as it's difficult to eat badly in a restaurant or trattoria. However, bread prices have rocketed recently which is why this place is now even busier than ever (before you start I know it doesn't look busy but the customers got out of the way for the photo). This is a local commie co-operative and the bread and foccaccia is about half the price of that sold by the thieving capitalists who run the normal bakeries. It's good stuff too. Note the patronal saint of murder squads gazing out implacably over a throng of buyers who couldn't give a stuff about Santa Clara.

Being a soundly-principled Conservative of course I now never go anywhere else.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Hard at it

Snapped this little workhorse in a local village. In daily use too. Doesn't Brussels say that tractor cabs are obligatory in the EU? But we're in Italy!