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  1. #471

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus Gul View Post
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    often pop in for a take away Saltimbocca - hmmmn fancy one now
    I love Saltimbocca, but the last time I was there, I'm sure the only main course was pizzas ?

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    • #472
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      Quote Originally Posted by dazzer6666 View Post
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      Ah, you guys host the start/finish of the Arun River Marathon (couple of weeks ago). Very decent fry-up quickly served to hordes of hungry runners at the finish. Excellent job well done. Told the Mrs when I got home that we should pop down soon for a brekkie or something..........without running to bloody Storrington and back first
      Yes, that's us. Well done, I was impressed with the time you all completed the course in, I think you're all back in December for another one?
    • #473

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      Quote Originally Posted by WATFORD zero View Post
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      I love Saltimbocca, but the last time I was there, I'm sure the only main course was pizzas ?
      Oh noes!

      Just checked the menu on the website and that's still got them on (but still you could be right - bowling home through Preston Park scoffing a pizza is no where near as easy as bowling home through Preston Park scoffing a Saltimbocca)
    • #474
      #14/15 - 18/19 Goldstone1976's Avatar
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      *With permission of Bozza, above*

      Abruzzo "wine tasting" tour - Sunday 26 May. And a restaurant A Casa di Lilla, Giulianova, Abruzzo

      As said above, this is likely to be long.

      Main Dramatis Personae - with only relevant-to-the-story background

      Palace Full Kit Wanker (or was it an Albion fan on a dare/stag do?)
      The GLDHI: Dislikes conflict. Likes: wine (much more knowledgeable than she admits), people (most), fun.
      Friend A: Italian, from Abruzzo, proud and passionate about his country and region, extremely outgoing and organises social activities all the time
      Friend B: English, married to Friend A, largely does what he's told socially, very funny; also very kind
      Theresa: English, now living 6 miles from Friend A&B's place in Italy, been in Italy for three years - has almost no Italian. Mildly eccentric, but a total sweetheart.
      Renaldo: An Italian tour companion and kitchen furniture maker, who got progressively more pissed and more excitable about The Donald, and US visa problems.
      Pissed guy on coach: A pissed guy. On a coach.
      Me: If I had to choose a specialist subject for Mastermind, it'd be wine.
      Vanessa: Italian who - well, you'll have to read on...

      Italy has some brilliant wine regions: Piedmont, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto all have many world class vineyards and growers. All are represented extensively in my cellar. Like any wine country, it also has some poor wine regions. Such as Abruzzo. Which is not. Zero bottles. Not one.

      So why did I agree to go to Abruzzo to do a "wine-tasting" tour for a day with Friends A&B? Well, because I love them dearly; they are the most brilliant hosts - with Friend A being a fantastic cook (and maker of the World's best Limoncello); and because, as I said to the GLDHI, "we might get to find a really good small grower that I've never heard of - how exciting would that be?". "Very", she said, in a not totally convincing manner.

      I think it appropriate to say what I consider a wine-tasting tour to be, so that a comparison with what follows can be fairly made.

      First, you gather together half a dozen people that are passionate about wine. Ideally, that group will have at least one Master of Wine in it (of which there are ~300 in the world) - this will enable you to achieve three things: 1) get into wineries that Joe Public won't be able to - why not? because they will typically have tiny productions, which they sell out locally or because they are globally recognised and have no need to offer tastings, 2) get those wineries to offer you the best wines they have, rather than just the latest vintage they are trying to plug, and 3) you're bound to learn something - MWs are seriously, seriously knowledgeable about wine.

      Second, you email (in the local language of course), the winemakers, praising particular cuvees of theirs that you like (thus demonstrating that you're not just on a piss-up), and telling them which other makers you are (hoping to) visiting - thus setting the bar for the expectation of quality.

      Third, you arrange your diary, so that you can spend 4-6 days doing the tour, going to 5 or 6 wineries a day - at each of which you expect to taste 5-8 wines. This is to ensure that you have a decent representative sample of wines from that region.

      Fourth, because you are tasting 25-40 wines per day, you spit out the wine. You are tasting, not drinking.

      Fifth, because you are tasting between 100 and 250 wines on your trip, you take a note book. To take notes of the relative merits and demerits of the various wines, so that you can remember enough when you get home to know which wines you should buy and which not, and of those that you do buy, which are for drinking now, which in 3-7 years, which in 7-12 years and which you'll taste again in 12 years and make an assessment about how much longer you should leave them.

      That's a wine tasting tour.

      How much of the above took place on this trip? It involved wine. Or, at least something the growers tried to persuade you was wine.

      Let's start on the Saturday evening.

      "Tell us about tomorrow", say I.

      Friend A: We're meeting up with the others at 9:30 at the petrol station at the motorway exit.
      Me: Others?
      Friend A: Yes, us 4 and 10 others.
      Me: 10?
      Friend A: Yes - Mama, Auntie, Auntie, Sister, Brother-in-law...(it's no less than 1% of his immediate family who are coming with us - oh boy; 14 of us?!)
      Me: OK - so how are we getting to the wineries? There's 14 of us.
      Friend A: On the coach. And there's not 14 of us. That's just my group. There's 50 in total.

      50??!! On a small, intimate, considered wine-tasting tour? Oh bugger.

      It transpires that this isn't a small wine tour. This is the day when "all the biggest wine-makers in Abruzzo open their doors for tasting". Wait, did you just say "biggest"? "Why, yes, the smaller growers don't want to see coach after coach turn up each with 50 people on them". "No shit."

      We go to bed.

      "Can I be ill tomorrow?"
      "No. Reset your expectations. It'll be, umm, fun. Different."
      "Different? Yes, it'll be that"

      We leave at 09:15 in Friend B's 1964 Citroen Diane. Chug, chug, jump, jump, jump she goes. "Push the choke in", I suggest. "Oh, righto. Oh, yes, that IS better. I must remember to do that in future."

      We arrive at the petrol station and wander in for breakfast. Yep, seriously. Brilliant coffee, pastries, pizza, pasta dishes. Nothing fancy - but all better by a million miles than anything I've ever seen in a service area in the UK, and better than many, many restaurants/cafes I've eaten in. Somebody there takes real pride in what they're serving. "Bravo", say I. "Average", says Friend A. I believe him.

      More people arrive to await the coach. "There's Vanessa", says Friend A. "She's organised the coach. She'll have got food in for everyone. She likes to sing. Especially when she's drunk. She'll be drunk later". "That'll be fun", says the GLDHI, meaning it. "Excellent", I say, not. Friend B smiles.

      The coach comes. We are the last pick-up point. There are already 36 passengers. Friend A sits in the front row beside the driver. That seat has been reserved for him, as he apparently gets coach sick. The GLDHI and I sit together, with Friend B and Theresa sitting behind us.

      "Hello Theresa"
      "Hello, lovey"
      "Are you looking forward to the wine tasting?"
      "Oh, sweetie, I don't like wine. I won't be drinking any"
      "Righto". I fall silent, as I ponder my next gambit. I decide I don't really want to risk it and remain quiet.

      We set off, and pull onto the motorway, heading South.
      South? Huh?

      Italy has three main classifications for wine:

      IGT - table wine. The lowest quality. But ironically, some of the very best (and most of the internationally acclaimed) wines are in this classification - it's due to the higher classifications telling the grower which varietals they HAVE to grow in order to be classified, and the grower deciding to grow something else (often Cab Sauv) because they think their terroir will suit a different grape variety, deliberately sacrificing the higher classification.

      DOC - the majority of Italian wine that is exported to the UK is here, though IGT wines account for most of what is drunk in Italy.

      DOCG - the highest classification.

      Abruzzo has one DOCG micro-region, Teramo, and three DOC regions, one of which is Chieti, which is renowned for producing copious quantities of liquids akin to aviation fuel.

      Teramo is North of the petrol station; Chieti is South, with the other two areas lying broadly West (towards Rome).

      I wander down to the front of the coach.

      "I'm sure it's a mistake, but we seem to be headed South?"
      "Yes", says Friend A, "that's where we're going; South", helpfully pointing out of the windscreen in the appropriate direction.

      I gabble...

      "But, Teramo has the better wines, why are are we going to Chieti, which, err, doesn't?"

      "Because all these people are from Teramo (correcting the place that I had put the accent - it's teraMO, not TerA(R)mo apparently). We all know what the wines from around here taste like. See?" "Besides", he says, "the wineries in Teramo aren't open today. They open on a different weekend", gently patting my forearm in a reassuring manner.

      I go back to my seat.

      "We're completely f*cked" I mutter. "It'll be fine", says the "GLDHI; "What's that?" says Friend B and Theresa.

      We pull off the motorway and immediately enter wine country. Well, lots of vines anyway. We drive round a bit and pull into the largest winery I'd ever seen (up until that point).

      There are 300 cars and 20 coaches in the car park.

      "See? I told you, we're f*cked".
      "It'll be fine".

      We queue up and pay our 5 euros. In return, we get a canvasy type bag thing on a string which contains a glass (not a good glass @Herr Tubthumper, but a much better glass than that which I got at St John) - image below - and a wristband with two removable buttons on it. You trade each button in for a "free" taste.

      "How much for another two buttons, without an extra glass?", I ask. "There's no point, we're only tasting two wines". F*cked.

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      In case you can't read the engraving, it proudly states "Movimento Turismo del Vino, Abruzzo", which translates as "We make aviation fuel for tourists, because they don't know any better".

      The canvasy bag things are a thing of beauty. Here are Friend B and Theresa modelling them. They are accesorised by having white plastic cups which they have both chosen to insert into the top of the wine glass.

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      Notice something else? The sky? Yep, it's about to rain. Hard, for the rest of the day.

      Before going to taste our two wines, Vanessa called us over to the side of the coach. She'd opened the luggage compartment doors and there lay about 1000 rounds of sandwiches, and cakes, and pastries, and flasks (Barber Out) of coffee, and bottles of water. We weren't going to go hungry.

      We went and did the "tour", which consisted of going round an industrial chemical plant (which is what a large winery is), full of gleaming pipes and stainless steel vessels. We had the two wines - a Trebbiano, which was shit, and a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which was shitter.

      Friend B, Theresa, the GLDHI, and I went back to the coach in the rain.

      We return to the Whatsapp group I talked about in a previous post

      12:50 Me: Four of us are on the bus, just to let you know.
      13:40 Friend A: Sorry guys. I got involved with a couple of bottles of red on the way back. Stick with me at the next one

      We set off for the next winery.

      "How many wineries are we going to?" I ask.
      "It was supposed to be three, but we're late. It'll probably be only two now".

      "Small mercies", I mutter to the GLDHI.
      "What's that?" enquires half the coach.

      20 minutes pass.

      "Umm, why have we stopped - in the middle of nowhere?" I ask.
      "Umm, people seem to be getting off. Hang on, what's that smoke?"

      We get off. The nearside (in Italy) front wheel brake pad is on fire.

      The driver goes and gets a fire extinguisher. It's empty. He gets another, and puts the fire out. 50 people, standing on the edge of a country road in the middle of nowhere beside a coach which is going nowhere llok at the driver.

      He considers the situation for 10-15 seconds and decides to...shrug.

      A torrent of abuse is directed at him from 46 pissed-up Italians and one Brit who has fluent Italian, while 3 Brits who have zero to very little Italian nod furiously along.

      He decides to...shrug.

      Eventually, he decides that he'll call base and organise another coach. There's no mobile signal. Off he trudges - to the top of a nearby molehill - and tries again. Miraculously, it works. Hooray! A spare coach has been despatched.

      The crowd contemplates the prospect of standing in the mud by the side of the road in the pouring rain (because we can't get back on, due to the fire). We all figure that as long as the coach doesn't move, the chances of the brake pad spontaneously combusting again are low, and pile back on the coach.

      Out comes the wine that many (really far too many, have they no taste buds at all, these Italians?) have bought at the first winery. Cork screws are found and Movimento Turismo del Vino, Abruzzo glasses filled.

      After an hour and a half, the second coach arrives. We pile on, and off we set.

      "Definitely only two wineries now", confirms Friend B.
      "Thank f*ck for that" I say
      "What's that?", says the whole coach.

      All goes well for about 30 minutes.

      We get to a tiny village, where we have a choice of bearing left, or going straight on. There's an old woman leaning out of a window holding a broom. As you do. She watches the coach intently. I watch her. The coach starts to slowly move left. The woman shakes her head. The coach picks up speed. The woman starts jumping up and down, banging her broom against the wall underneath the window and shouting. The driver stops the coach, gets out, and goes to talk to the woman. A week later, he returns and reverses the coach back to the junction, and goes in the other direction. The old woman smiles and waves her broom at us. I later find out out that the way the driver had wanted to go led to a low bridge. Low enough to take the top off a coach that had gone that way two weeks before.

      We arrive at the second winery at about 4:30pm. We've been on the road for seven hours, and tasted two wines. At least there were some positives.

      Here's what it looks like:

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      WTF? This is not just industrial scale wine-making. This is just patently a piss-take.

      But no. We go in, get another (identical) canvasy bag, with another (identical) glass (still better than those they give you at St John) - "No, you can't use the same glass as you've already bought. Yes, I know they're identical" - and four paper tokens to redeem for the wines.

      Four wines here. All shocking. But. But.

      There's a band. Actually in the winery. Don't believe me? OK, then:

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      "But that's photoshopped", I hear you say. Oh, ye of little faith:

      [Hmm... here was supposed to be inserted a video, but at 70meg it's apparently too big to be emailed from my mobile to my laptop. I'll see if I can get it uploaded another way. For the moment, you're just going to have to trust me. The band is real, and they're shit.]

      I go out into the rain for a puff on my vape and get collared by Renaldo, who runs his own furniture-making business which exports all over the world. He tells me that he's very pleased that Trump has introduced a 25% tariff on goods from China.

      "I used to be 45% more expensive than the Chinese, which was too much. Now I'm only 15% more expensive, and people are prepared to pay that premium for Italian products".
      "Where are your products assembled?"
      "China, of course. But I haven't told them that. I bring them back into Italy, put a "made in Italy" sticker on them and ship them"
      "Righto"

      He's less keen on Homeland Security though.

      "I've been banned from entering the US"
      "Oh, why?"
      "They don't like some of my passport stamps"
      "Oh, where have you been?"
      "Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria..."
      "Righto"

      Pause

      "I've appealed though"
      "Ok. How long ago?"
      "17 months ago now. They haven't replied yet. I'm starting to get worried".
      "Righto"

      I go back into the winery. Vanessa has decided to sing. With the band. Here she is, telling the guitarist how to play the guitar.

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      We get back on the coach.

      Vanessa sings.

      The guy in front of us is pissed.

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      His right hand gently caresses the hair of the woman in front of him who has fallen asleep on her partner's shoulder. For an hour and a half. She doesn't know - she's asleep. Her partner doesn't care - he's pissed too.

      We get back to the car parked at the petrol station at 21:30. We get in and decide we're hungry. We call up an aristocini place (really thin kebabs) in Giulianova and go eat. It's called A Casa di Lilla. It doubles as a B&B. The food is outstanding, particularly the lamb and the calves' liver and onion ones. The latter is a real surprise to me as I normally don't much like liver.

      "How did you enjoy your day?" asked Friend A and B simultaneously.
      "Bloody loved it", I said. I had too. Just not for the reasons that I had hoped I might.
      "I told you it'd be ok", said the GLDHI

      We got into Stansted the following afternoon. On the bus back to the Mid-term car park, I spotted this:

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      He was travelling with 3 or 4 mates. I don't know if he's a Palace Full Kit Wanker, or if, more likely I guess, and as suggested by the GLDHI, an Albion fan on his way back from a stag do. I didn't ask.


      TL;DR? Shit wine; great time; good kebabs.
      Last edited by Goldstone1976; 04-06-2019 at 18:03.
      2A. K2-18b
    • #475
      Fan of the 17 bus Cowfold Seagull's Avatar
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      1 Not allowed!
      Was that the longest post in the history of NSC? If not it must have been close!
    • #476
      Members Herr Tubthumper's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Beach Hut View Post
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      Cin Cin booked for Saturday week - @Herr Tubthumper I hope this is good as you have talked me into this !
      Oh no. The pressure is on! Which venue are you going to?
      "I will design a town in the image of your face. Round the wrinkles of your eyes my footsteps you can trace. We could promenade down infra-nasel depression. The streets of your hands will never feel a recession."
    • #477
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      Anything else?
    • #478
      aka Cap'n Carl Firecrotch Westdene Seagull's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Cowfold Seagull View Post
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      Was that the longest post in the history of NSC? If not it must have been close!
      Don't tell anyone but @Goldstone1976 is really Paul Barber
      BAN Village Idiots
      The devil whispered in my ear : "You're not strong enough to withstand the storm."
      I whispered in the devils ear : " I am the storm."
    • #479
      Fan of the 17 bus Cowfold Seagull's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Westdene Seagull View Post
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      Don't tell anyone but @Goldstone1976 is really Paul Barber
      Hmmm I did have my suspicions.
    • #480
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      Quote Originally Posted by Westdene Seagull View Post
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      Don't tell anyone but @Goldstone1976 is really Paul Barber
      I've seen him, and I'm sure he was wearing mustard.

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