Thursday, 26 August 2010

Happy Birthday Lucky!

Probably the most pampered Labrador in Christendom celebrated her 11th birthday this week. We went down to the river for a dip. Happy birthday Sausage!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

One for Diplo

When all the talk is done, when chins have been stroked and teeth sucked, the proof of the pudding is when the end result is placed delicately in your gob. The finest buffalo mozzarella, delicate olive oil made by some wizened inbred peasant from Liguria, fresh basil from the herb garden and undoubtedly the finest tomatoes on God's green earth. I thank you.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Miserable Romans

The badly-oiled, leaking behemoth that is Combo Catering creaked into action last weekend. Big wedding at a local country house. Your correspondent was in charge of the drinks table at the pre-dinner aperitivi and then acted as wine waiter throughout the evening.
Pride of place pre-dinner was this very expensive bowl full of cheap, home-made, tooth enamel stripping sangria.
I made about ten litres and they necked virtually the lot, to wash down lots of tables of delicious nibbles, lovingly prepared by Mrs Combo.
However, it was an odd wedding, very low-key for Italian standards, a few desultory "eep, eep urraaaas"* and that was about it. Seemed more like a provincial Rotary Club lunch. I asked a local guest afterwards for a reason and he said "Most of them were up from Rome. Miserable bastards, Romans."

*It's what Italians shout at weddings as they toast the bride and groom. Lord knows where they got that from.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

As High as Kites

Away with Bruno the last weekend to Trentino for the annual summer party given by this choir. Not for the faint-hearted, this very Italian celebration starts in the morning and lasts all day. It takes place in a field about 5,000ft up a mountain. We arrived at around 10.30 in the morning and I heeded Bruno's words from my first time there a few years ago: "If you take wine before midday you won't see 3 o'clock. Trust me." So I trusted him and saw out the first 90 minutes lining my stomach with a quite excellent broth taken from the meats being boiled over an open fire.
Some of the members of the choir like to fortify their beakers of broth with some red wine, the local Teroldego. I erred only once.
All the food is cooked at small stations dotted here and there and, not surprisingly, is invariably delicious. Lots of meat of course.
And polenta, per forza.
The white wine is kept cool with the anguria in a tub filled with ice cold water from a local spring.
The red wine is usually brought to the table by wheelbarrow. As the consumption of wine speeds up so the singing starts. The choir was formed after the First World War and their repertoire is based mainly on folk songs from when the Italians were engaged against the Austrians, high up in the snowy mountains. It was a bloody, cruel conflict (is there one that isn't?) and their songs are very Italian, very mournful, mainly about how they miss their Mum (first) and then their wife or girlfriend (second). It's mostly in close six part harmony and you can hear some here.
Oh, and they also drink like fish.
We left (more or less upright, surprisingly) the thrash at around half past six in the evening. Then we went out for some supper and lots more wine. Fan-tas-tic!