Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Harvest Festival

Combo Garden Produce Srl is now working flat out supplying restaurants and hotels all over northern Italy with the finest organic produce, all morning picked and fresh as could be. The neighbours aren't too keen on the queue of artics outside at three in the morning with their ThermoKing (TM) slave motors throbbing away but that's life I'm afraid when you live next door to a leading Market Garden. Oh yes. Here we have a sample of this morning's harvest, the zucchini flowers are particularly sought after in the best Milanese restaurants.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tucking in

Paella last night at a friend's, a bottle of something decent from Spain would have gone well with it, but of course here it is impossible to buy any wine other than Italian. Not that I am complaining. Far from it. The Barbera d'Asti from Campazzo, Baccarossa, was excellent. The paella was delicious. Complimenti PierAnna!
Some of the Leicester Gang are pitching up tonight. The hatches are being battened.

Friday, 12 June 2009

As Happy As A Pig in.....

Mrs Combo is an excellent cook. Sometimes there is a local agriturismo* which asks her to help out in the kitchen. This they did last Sunday as there were two christening parties going on at the same time. This event let me stroll for an hour or so in the sunlit uplands, marvelling at God's grace and love.
I had been down to Genoa for the day for the footie. Coming back up on the train Mrs Combo rang and said "Look tesoro, I haven't been able to cook anything for this evening so Stefi (the owner of the agriturismo) said why don't you come straight here and eat with us?" "OK" I replied dutifully.
When I arrived it was chaos. Children running riot, toys all over the lawns, male relatives in their smooth suits with their shirt collars undone and the ladies in fine dresses with excellent decollete on display. It was hot and they had eaten and drunk very well. Now the kitchen was preparing puddings. Stefi shoved a plate of deep fried courgette flowers, salami, tomatoes, fresh broad beans and fresh bread in my hand and said "Look Ron, don't eat here with us in the kitchen standing up. Why don't you go into that dining room as they've all finished and have gone outside. You can eat there. We've cleared the tables of the plates but I think there's some wine left. Let me know if you want a coffee. Sorry about this but you can see how it is..."
As I walked into the room and closed the door behind me I felt my eyes prick with tears. I put the plate of food on the nearest table and sank to my knees. I bowed my head and prayed out loud. "Thank you God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very much."
There were undrunk bottles of wine everywhere. All had been opened but very few had been finished, most had hardly been touched. That's Italians for you. They somehow don't see the need to finish every drink that is on offer. Can't see it myself, but still. There was an excellent local white, cortese, and a wonderful Monferrato Rosso (a blend of barbera, cabernet sauvignon and good old merlot), both from decent producers.
I sat at table and tucked my napkin into my collar. Clean glass. Thank you very much.

*An agriturismo is a working farm which will have a restaurant and accommodation. They (are meant to) serve only food and wine that they produce themselves. Usually good value.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Coffins 'R' Us

God has turned the thermostat up in the last couple of weeks which means that a few more old 'uns than normal are dropping off their perches. Explains the bulk delivery to a local undertakers of new shiny boxes which I witnessed whilst standing outside a bar, enjoying a decent glass of Gavi di Gavi. I counted more than twenty, all in that sleek wood that looks more plastic than plastic. One size seems to fit all too, as most old Italians are stereotypically short arsed.