Monday, 29 December 2008

This Needs Skiing

My favourite field, snowbound. Needs skiing. If I could remember where I left my skis (I'm not joking) after the last trip some three years ago, I'd have a crack. Must have been one apres-ski Negroni too many. Ah the Negroni! Will I ever press my hungry lips against your glass again?

Monday, 22 December 2008

A Light Lunch

Lunch at Giulio's yesterday. There were twelve of us. A new face at the table (for me) was one Mammo. I found out after lunch that he had undergone a quadruple bypass about a year ago. He is quite, er, robust. He smoked incessantly, leaving his dog ends smouldering foully in the brimming ashtray. I couldn't understand much of what he was talking about because (a) he spoke in local dialect and (b) he expertly kept the lit fag in his mouth even whilst eating and talking (which he did at the same time).

At the beginning of the lunch, and in a weak effort at making conversation, I asked him if he preferred red or white wine. "Well now there's an easy question" he coughed, wiping the fallen ash off a napkin that didn't make too much of an impression in covering his ample belly. "It's white wine for me everytime. No problem. I don't know what it is but three or four glasses of red and I'm all over the place. Just want to go to sleep. Nope. I'm strictly a white man, hah hah." I then watched open mouthed as, wreathed in smoke, he drank a single glass of Prosecco followed by one and a half litres of cheap Chianti and a bottle of Barbera d'Asti, everything rounded off with five large grappas and a token limoncello to (as he put it) keep the women company.
Good man. Straight into the Ron Combo Hall of Fame.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Full of wine?

Interesting Anglo-centric graffiti on this train which I anoraked this afternoon. I wonder if those tanks are full of wine? Really cheap stuff from the south of Italy they use to bulk up some of the local plonk. The sort I really like.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Good Weekend

Phew, that's that one out of the way and I didn't get arrested or deported. A good weekend and, oddly, I can remember virtually all of it. Thank you to Fred for the bed, Louise for dinner and bed and to Lord Ashley of Slawston for the pic, the first of the day (St Peter's Mild) at the Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell on Friday. Great beer, great pub. We ended up some nine hours later at the Scarsdale in Kensington, dribbling over unattainable young totty. Well, I was anyway. Back on the wagon now for a few days.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

State Visit

Your Uncle Ronnie is in a bit of a panic. This extremely shaky pic is the drive at Casa Combo this evening. It snowed for over 24 hours, it's just stopped and although the snowplough passed at lunchtime, from the state of the road it might as well not have bothered. But will I get to Genoa for the flight to London tomorrow morning? If it snows again tonight it could be tight. Ooer!

Monday, 8 December 2008

An Italian Schoolbook

This is a book in use at one of the 'middle' schools where the pupils have the dubious benefit of being taught English by Ronnie. ("Now children, when you're in the UK and you want to get directions, always ask a policeman. But don't address them as 'Mister policeman', that's far too formal. Use the affectionate term we locals employ, 'Oi, Tosser!'").
The book is old of course, and has lots of different articles for pre-teen girls like how to fold your clothes properly, the historical treasures of Egypt, why drinking milk is good for you, that sort of stuff. All very sweet and innocent and rather touching.
Call me a dreadful old cynic, but I feel sure that its UK equivalent would have single syllable guides on your rights to the morning-after pill and 25 great sex positions to use in your boyfriend's fully-tweaked Ford Fiesta.
I must stay in more.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

My Snowy Milk Thistle Heaven

Owing to the unprecedented levels of interest being expressed in the restorative powers of milk thistle, I am offering you this link which should be of use. Some of you, (no names no pack drill, but Fred and Lord Ashley of Slawston would appear to be to the fore) are obviously already in the dodgy world of alcohol-based long-term memory loss as I have posted on the topic of milk thistle before*, in October last year.

*Or did I? D'you know I'm not so sure now. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Thumbs Up!

This is what happens when you stop boozing. You lose all your points of reference. You're operating in a strange demi-monde, peopled by strangers, different perspectives and ways of doing things. There I was, slicing a raw fennel with my latest acquisition from the market, a kitchen utensil with quite the sharpest blade in the Western hemisphere. One moment I was happily slicing, the next I was pulling the top of my thumb off the blade. Blood every-sodding-where. Showing unusual presence of mind, I stuck my thumb in my mouth and started sucking and then hunted for a piece of string (Mrs Combo was at work). No string so I cut the strap off the camera and tied that tight around the digit as a make-do tourniquet. Half a kitchen roll later Mrs C pitched up and took me to A&E. Such is my accident-prone nature that I am virtually on first name terms with the doctors and nurses. Three stitches and home. That'll learn me.

Monday, 1 December 2008

A Royal Lunching

Bit of a lapse yesterday at a lunch with friends in a very old house in the country (All paintings on the ceilings, silver candelabra, dusty stuff like that. Where's the sodding 46" plasma I was wondering). The main course was wild boar cooked in decent Barbera. This was preceded, of course, by a vast selection of antipasti, one of which was this huge and beautifully-presented jar of stuffed chili peppers. Not like the Combo version, stuffed with anchovies, but stuffed with tuna. They were sensational. Then a risotto with wild mushrooms. Then the wild piggy. Burp. I drank a couple of glasses of white and then a few* reds, reasoning that it would have been extremely rude to my host who had spent two days preparing the boar not to have helped it down with some Chianti, Barbera and finally some Barbaresco. I was then advised to drink a very old barrel-aged rum as a digestivo, which I did. God knows why, I don't even like bloody rum. Result was a thumping headache later on in the evening. Feeling a tad remorseful I have weighed back in with the veg and water today - and of course the milk thistle. Oh Ron, that it should have come to this!

* More than a few actually.