Sunday, September 30, 2007

Back from Italy

Apologies to my regular readers. The temporary hiatus in posting is because we have been in Italy for 9 days on a cookery school with Mino Maggi (see "Meeting Italian Neighbours (1)"). I will be retro-blogging loads of foodie pictures this week to catch up.

In the meantime, a traveller's tale (or two in fact):

Our flight from Bari to Rome was delayed by 25 minutes and we only had a 50 minute connection, including passport control. As we landed and entered Terminal A we were met by an Alitalia rep holding up a card.

He popped us onto one of those "old granny with stick" buggies with six other passengers and went careering off to Terminal C like a Formula 1 driver. Met us again the other side of passport control to get us to the gate. Great fun!

Then when we landed at Heathrow we walked up to the luggage carousel and out of the chute popped our bags where normally we expect a 30-40 minute wait: result!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Marc Bolan a Celebration

This Sunday saw the 30th anniversary of the death of Marc Bolan, my teenage idol. It brought fans from all around the globe to visit the tree, attend a ceremony at Golders Green Crematorium and go to Klub Xtreme which hosts an event every 16th September.

This year there was also a concert at Shepherds Bush Empire fronted by tribute band T.Rextasy with a number of guest appearances (reviewed in The Times).

For me it was also an opportunity to meet many cyber-friends from a a mailing list on Yahoo called Tilldawn (also I knew many of them by their posts and it is great to meet them in the flesh and put a face to the name.

One of them is a Jorgen, a postman from Sweden who I first met at a similar event ten years ago. It was good to be able to offer him a bed for the night, save him the cost of a hotel and act as host for his visit. I will be posting load of photos to Flickr later...


Tillers outside Klub Xtreme (video)

Klub Xtreme 16-Sep-07 (photos)

Born to Boogie DVD launch April 2005 (photos)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Food and Wine from the Sicily Region

at Enoteca Turi. This is a wonderful Puglian restaurant just down the road in Putney where we have eaten a couple of times previously.

This event was originally scheduled for Tuesday 11th September 2007. We tried to get in but it was fully booked and also it clashed with the Plant of The Grapes Rioja tasting. Because it was so popular Pam and Giuseppe decided to run a second event the following evening (last night).

Arancini di riso
Sardine beccafico
Primo sale with pacchino tomatoes
Mosciame di tonno
Barbazzale Inzolia IGT 2005 Cotta Nera

Layers of aubergine with mozzarella and caciocavallo
Fatagione IGT 2003 Cotta Nera

Cuscusu Trapanese
Red mullet, gunnard and monkfish soup with saffron couscous
Chardonnay IGT 2005 Planeta

Rabbit Stimpirata
Braised rabbit off the bone with onion, celery, olive, pine nuts and raisins
Calderara Sottana Etna Rosso DOC 2004 Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Rosso del Conte 2003 Tasca d'Almerita

Cassata Siciliana with lemon sorbet
Passito di Pantelleria DOC 2004 Solidea


The food was excellent as was the company. We had a most enjoyable chat to complete strangers, Jo and Robin, and Liz and Jim. But then you would expect people who go to such events to be of a sociable disposition.

Giuseppe had done his homework and gave an introduction to Sicilian political and gastronomic history and again before each course told us a little more about the specific dish and wine. They have done six of these wine and food dinners. With 20 regions in Italy they are planning plenty more events - where do we sign?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Marques de Murrieta at Planet of the Grapes

Another tasting at Planet of the Grapes last night, this time Rioja.

Almost the same crew as last time: David, Bron, Paul and this time Mary was able to make it. Frans the Bodega's Export Director gave us a good insight into the estate, its history and the wines.

  • Pazo Barrantes, Albarino D.O. Rias Baixas 2005 @ £13.50
  • Blanco Reserva "Capellania" 2002 @ £12.50
  • Tinto Reserva 2002 @ £.50
  • Tinto Reserva 2001 @ £14.50
  • Tinto Gran Reserva Special Release (Magnum) 1980 @ £115
  • Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 1998 @ £33
  • Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Historic Release 1978 @ £80
  • Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Historic Release 1968 price N/A
  • Dalmau 2001 @ £50

It was fascinating to do a vertical tasting for a change and going back so far with wines not available in the shops. As often I was in a minority regards which were the better wines. Mary reckons it is not because of any deficiency in my palate rather that it is my personal preference for jammy flavours.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Street Life (Art Is My Hustle)

Seen outside the London Graphic Centre in Shelton Street, Covent Garden.

graffiti: Art Is My Hustle
Graffiti: Art Is My Hustle

I saw this and thought it was a colourful piece of street art but a quick Google reveals that it may actually be a cunning piece of advertising (via for T.Magic World.

What I cannot work out is whether this is, as it appears, an young innovative artist or some mega-corporation sneaky viral marketing thingy. Whatever they seem like colourful designer T-shirts so I thought I'd give him a link.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Police Twickenham Sunday 09 September 2007

The Police_IMG_6826
Originally uploaded by golden/skans
Well that is handy. Someone has blogged the set list and Flicker'd a whole set of photos.

I am sure a whole slew of reviews will follow from fans all over. My two penn'th is that the bass was cranked up as you might expect when the front man plays bass guitar; it made my chest vibrate is was so intense.

It as a fine concert with a mixture of greatest hits and tracks I did not recognise but I guess that is my lack of familiarity with their complete oeuvre. Three men without any backing musicians can make a lot of music.

The only downside was the time it took to get home. The queues to get into the station and onto the trains meant it took an hour and three quarters to get home. I shall look at alternatives next time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bathroom Update (4)

Almost done! Andy came yesterday and fitted the second mirror door plus fixed one of the lights. We had our first bath yesterday and first shower this morning. All seems to be working just fine and dandy.

bathroom before bathroom with shelving and tiles
Bathroom before and after

Note the curve of the bath. That allowed us to move the bath to the wall side and hang the door the other way without bashing the corner. Having to buy a bath with a corner missing just about trebled the cost of the unit!

Previously: Bathroom Update (3), (2), (1), (0)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

YMCA by Christopher - Puppeteer Extraordinaire

You know how certain songs are inextricably linked with particular memories. Whenever I hear YMCA by Village People I am reminded of a time when I was working in Basel, Switzerland and Mary came over for the weekend instead of me going home.

We stayed with our friends John&Andrea who were living over there and Saturday night went out for a meal over the border in France. It was a wonderful meal and as Andrea was the designated driver I do believe we drank her share of the wine.

On the way home to keep Andrea awake and alert we wound down the windows, wound up the stereo and performed a spirited rendition of this song complete with the full Y.M.C.A arm gestures. Andrea did keep one hand one the wheel though I am glad to say.

And here is another version, just t-o-o funny, watch and laugh :-)


Thanks to Bob Carlsen for drawing this gem to my attention.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fried Peppers with Garlic, Capers and Vinegar

This is one of Mary's favorite recipes so it has become one of my signature dishes. I make it regularly especially when in Italy (see "Our first dinner party"). It is excellent with barbecued chicken.

It is also, like Panzanella, a fine example of a "Traffic Light Meal". For the benefit of Americans 800gm is four bell peppers (I aim for two red, two yellow, never green - the capers do that).

Fried Peppers with Garlic, Capers and Vinegar

Fried Peppers with Garlic, Capers and Vinegar
from one of Carluccio's recipe books.

Serves 4-6

800 g (1 ¾ lb) whole red and yellow bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs salted capers (alternatively capers in vinegar)
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs wine vinegar

Cut the peppers into strips. Slice the garlic and put the capers to soak in a bowl of water. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the strips of pepper. The oil should be quite hot. Stir while frying the peppers: their skins should begin to scorch at the edges. Then add the slices of garlic and the capers, drained and dried before being added. While these ingredients are sizzling, add the vinegar and salt, stir well and let the vinegar evaporate for a minute. Serve immediately if you like, but an excellent dish cold.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Roy and Sue's Silver Wedding

Last night it was off to Brasted Village hall to celebrate the Silver wedding anniversary of longstanding colleague and friend Roy and his wife Sue.

Roy and Sue cut the cake

As they are keen Scottish Country Dancers the evening's entertainment was a dance with a caller to herd us newbies about. I never learnt this stuff at school and have only been called upon to trip the light fantastic twice before: at Geraldine and Alisdair's wedding and Ros' 50th.

I did not want to resemble a pinball ricocheting around the dance floor so got a couple of hours coaching from Anne on the basics. It must have helped because I only sat out two dances and was pretty sweaty by the end of the evening.

Mark scottish country dancing

You can see selected photos of "Roy and Sue's silver wedding on Flickr" [new window]