Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Puglian Bicycle Thief

Last week was busy at work so I had no time to blog. This weekend we were in Puglia for the last visit of the year so I had no technology to blog. The works progress slowly but steadily, with the emphasis more on the slow than the steady.

The excitement of the weekend was catching a bicycle thief red-handed. Between visits everything is put away indoors and securely locked up but while we were there I put the bikes out in the Lamia chained together.

On Saturday night I heard noises and, given we are near the end of a secluded, dead-end dirt track, I went out to investigate. There was a bloke struggling with two bikes and heavy-duty bolt cutters trying to get them out the Lamia door. He appeared to speak no English but body language is pretty international. Mine was unambiguous as I grabbed him, shoved him up against the wall, stuck my nose millimeters from his and said rude words at loud volume.

He seemed pretty scared and engaged the gibbering coward circuits as he made for his van. Mary came out and joined us for more shouting of the limited vocabulary variety including the Italian for "thief" and "police tomorrow". We took a note of his van number and a photograph which sent his craven cringing into overdrive as we let him go. The flash flashed but unfortunately the camera battery was so flat we got no usable image. However he doesn't know that and hopefully has slept very badly the last couple of nights.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Zind-Humbrecht Dinner

Special Guest Olivier Humbrecht MW. Hosted by David Berry Green, Buyer. Friday 18 November 2005. Another BBR dining extravaganza:

2002 Muscat. Herrenweg


2001 Riesling, Clos Windsbuhl

Baked rainbow trout with toasted almonds

2002 Riesling, Brand

Crispy sea bass with a lime, lemongrass and coconut sauce

2001 Tokay Pinot Gris, Rangen de Thann

Pork with caramelised honey and citrus sauce with crushed new potatoes and seasonal vegetables

19883 Gewurztraminer, Rangen de Than, Vendage Tardive

Selection of cheese and fresh fruit

1986 Tokay Pinot Gris, Rotenberg, Selection des Grains Nobles

Pear and frangipane tart with hazelnut praline


Berrys' selected coffee and mints

I have always had a soft spot for Zind-Humbrecht ever since I discovered their Gewurztraminer, Herrenweg Turkheim some twenty years ago. It is every thing that one could hope for in a dessert wine, complex flavours (a veritable fruit bowl of exotic fruits), unctuousness, sweetness without being cloying thanks to a hint of noble rot. I love it and I was looking forward to this dinner.

One of the pleasures of these dinners is that you get to hear from the winemakers themselves. For a twelfth generation wine producer Olivier had a refreshing amount of enthusiasm for his subject. As well as the wines themselves he did an excellent job of covering the history of the region, the domaine itself and biodynamics. The latter has a more than a hint of hew age hippydom about it but results in some very sensible, sustainable, organic farming practices. As, Olivier said "the proof is in the glass".

Apart from the marc which was, like 99.99 percent of the grappa breed, rocket fuel.

Art by Architects

I may be biased but I think my father is a talented artist, and so does the Association of Consultant Architects as they selected both the pictures that he submitted for their Vision 05 Art by Architects exhibition. The family gathered for a private viewing last week at the gallery just off Sloane Square and then adjourned across the road for tapas and a good old natter.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Guilt-free surfing

Mary is at the wine bar round the corner with Andrea A. and I am catching up on random "follow that link" surfing. One was of great interest, the other made me laugh:

"Two nations divided by a common language"* points to two execellent wikipedia entries
"Lego Escher" does what is says on the tin. <LOL>

* Of course you knew the correct quote is "separated" by a common language.

Gullible's Travels by Cash Peters

Buy at Amazon.com Gullible's Travels : The Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist

I can only presume that someone in the US media made mention of Gullible's Travels : The Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist by Cash Peters as I have had a flurry of North American hits from Google.com.

Nice to know I am global number one ranked for "gullible's travels" though I suspect this blog is not what they were looking for. I must buy the book myself as it has excellent reviews.

Which is more than can be said of this blog. Those extra vistors certainly cannot be as a result of the write up at The Weblog Review. Babz wrote a "damn with faint praise" review and gave me a rating of 2. That is hardly going to bring a flood of visitors. Still at least it shows there is room for improvement :-/

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Fine Wines of The Montrachet

Another OTT evening at BBR. This time "Exploring Great Burgundy - The Fine Wines of The Montrachet" tutored by Jasper Morris MW, Buying Director.

 • Wine 1: 2000 Chassagne-Montrachet, 'Les Chaumées', 1er Cru, Domaine Michel Niellon
 • Wine 2: 2000 Puligny-Montrachet, 'Les Pucelles', 1er Cru, Domaine Leflaive
 • Wine 3: 2000 Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Domaine Belland
 • Wine 4: 1999 Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Etienne Sauzet
 • Wine 5: 1988 Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Domaine Leflaive
 • Wine 6: 1999 Chevalier-Montrachet, 'Les Demoiselles', Grand Cru, Louis Latour
 • Wine 7: 1996 Chevalier-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Domaine Leflaive
 • Wine 8: 1999 Le Montrachet, Grand Cru, Marquis de Laguiche, Joseph Drouhin

What can I say. I could say they were superb, elegant, etc. but I would be bull-bluffing. Very drinkable but way beyond my capacity to appreciate the subtleties. At prices ranging from GBP 52 to GBP 357 per bottle(!) I will not be rushing out to buy a case or two. In fact most of the wines were limited availability (from 35 bottles to 1 last remaining bottle) so I couldn't even if I had the money *and* the inclination.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shopping in Puglia

This weekend it was shopping in Puglia. One half of the Hovel-in-the-Hills™ is almost finished. Enough for Mary's Mum and sister to come out for a weekend of shopping.

We flew out Saturday evening and on Sunday hit the hyper-market Emmezeta on the outskirts of Fasano, about 20 minutes drive away. They filled two trolleys with crockery, kettles, pots and pans and all the other impedimenta need to kit out a new home. We even needed a third trolley to deal with scanning through the checkout.

conical Trulli roofs
Conical Trulli roofs from the roof of the Lamia

The building was further progressed than our last visit but still not complete. The sink and hob are in but the oven, though working, has yet to be fully fitted. The walls are white-washed and look good but the floors have yet to be grouted and cleaned. Best of all the Nordica wood burning stove was installed and we had it going most of the weekend keeping us warm and helping to drive out some of the dampness.

Daniele had forgotten to organise the furniture delivery so we arranged for that to happen on Monday. By the time the "Girls" had finished the place was looking well settled and very much the holiday home-from-home.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Yahrzeit for Oscar

Friday just past it was one year since Oscar the cat died [The Saddest News About Oscar]. I raised a glass of champagne with Mary to absent friends and lit a candle in front of a small statuette we have of two cats. With his death a little bit of joy left my life. I mourn his passing and do my best to remember the joy he brought me.