Don’t mention the virus…

Right, I am going you-know-what free this time…

The little wine offering that I put forward a couple of weeks or so ago has had some results!  A few cases sold, from Riesling (yes, we have it in the Langhe, and it is very good…) through traditional whites such as Favorita, Arneis and Nascetta to reds from Barbera and Nebbiolo to Roero, Barbaresco and Barolo.  We’re not talking pallets, but every little helps: if you’d like to help, as well as get some great wines discounted and delivered to your door, then get in touch with me – evan@piemontemio.com – and I will send you all the details!  Every producer on the list is a family I know personally: no corporate owners, venture capital or any of that nonsense!

The weather has been pretty good again: good enough for me to be sitting on the terrace as I write – though we did have 3 days of almost continuous rain earlier in the week.  But ‘good’ weather depends upon your point of view: the water was much needed by agriculture.  The vines were growing well, but they needed a drink – don’t we all…?  Since the rain, it has been warm, dry and breezy, which helps to keep diseases in check.

With minimal effort, therefore, the plants on said terrace are growing nicely.  There will be flowers on the grape vines soon, and depending on how fruit-set goes, grapes thereafter.  I am sorry to report, however, that the 4 vines I have are of American varieties: the fruit always has a very unpleasant flavour to me.  I won’t be making preserves from it.  But I might make some wine – not because I expect it to be palatable (much the reverse) but because it will allow me to get some practice and see what I am doing wrong if I get some terrible aromas and flavours that are down to my mistakes, rather than the awful grape varieties.  Wines made from American vine varieties are often described as having a ‘foxy’ character on the nose and palate: never having got close enough to smell, much less taste, a fox, I wouldn’t know.  But if the taste of the grapes is anything to go by, no thanks.  There is a reason why, even when all the European vines transplanted to the US died, they didn’t want to use native grapes…

 

I mention it once, but I think I get away with it…

Yesterday was Liberation Day here in Italy.  We all celebrated 75 years of liberty by being cooped up inside!  (Oops – does that count as a mention?)  I saw some great videos posted by friends singing traditional songs from the liberation, one even wearing a mask as they did so.  In the spirit of remote-togetherness, I liberated a nice wine from the cellar to toast them.

Finally, after periodic proddings from Noah, which have intensified in the last weeks as he has been at home, we both sat down and constructed a Millennium Falcon out of Lego.  I should probably state that this was from a kit of same, not simply us improvising one.  Actually, I shouldn’t have said that, I should have let you think the latter: ‘wow, what an amazingly creative dad!’, though the photos might have disabused you of that idea quite quickly…I probably don’t need to state that ‘we’ was me.  Anyway, the ‘Elliun Falcon’ was an unalloyed success.

It was followed by an instructional video in order to educate Noah as to where this machine came from and its importance in freeing the galaxy (not ours, but one far, far away) of tyranny.  (Not only a creative dad, but home-schooling, too.)  He liked Star Wars so much that further viewings were instituted, taking in other instalments of the saga.  When we got to The Force Awakens and Han Solo and Chewbacca reappeared, Noah jumped up and down on the sofa, gave me a high-five and threw his arms around my neck.  He then repeated the ‘Han and Chewie are back in business!’ that I had opined.

Since then he has modified our cops and robbers game so that he is now Police Han Solo – I can well imagine what the ‘real’ Han Solo would have to say about joining the constabulary – while I am either Chewbacca or Kylo Ren.  This last depends upon whether Police Han Solo would like my help in catching ‘mean people’, or if he considers me one of them myself.  He also told me that when he’s bigger he will hug Chewbacca because he is big and snuggly.

Noah has also informed me: ‘Daddy you are awful – what is awful? – and ugly!’  I explained what awful meant and Noah replied, ‘Just kidding, I’m teasing you!’  It has still not been ascertained whether that pertained to both my awfulness and appearance, or only one of these.  Meanwhile, in parallel with his burgeoning liking of Star Wars, Thomas the Tank Engine continues to be a real favourite for bedtime stories.  Probably not least because there are quite a few minutes to be had reading them…In any case, from time to time, as he is pottering about or having lunch, Noah will mention the Fat Controller.  There is always a moment of confusion and a fleeting ‘I need to stop him saying that’, when he mentions him, though.  As of even date, Noah’s pronunciation of Fat Controller comes out more like ‘Fuckin’ Troller’.  Once I have realised the subject under advisement is not the menace that stalks twitter, I relax.

 

What have I been watching this week?

I tried episode 1 of Money Heist, a Spanish series that has been hugely successful in the 3 years since its release.  Based on this opening episode I can see why.  Lavishly made, it is not hugely innovative in the plot as regards the opening episode, but the scope of the heist is ambitious (to say the least) and I am informed that the thick plottens greatly.  I will certainly be watching more.  This first episode was not especially gory, either – it doesn’t rely on blood, body count or spectacular set pieces.  Rather it is the idea itself and particularly the narration of the story by the leading character that sets up the show.

I tried three or four more ‘I think You Should Leave’, in case it did become as staggering as the Guardian suggested.  It didn’t.

Good Girls is still entertaining, but has become a little too pat and offhand with some storylines and plot elements: there have been a couple of these that seem to have been included simply to allow the next development of either story, or relationship, when they could have been the focus of an episode or thread themselves.  It seems a shame that they could have been used to wrestle with an issue but were treated as done and dusted once the step they served had been taken.  In the case of one couple in particular, their characters’ presentations thus far would have lent themselves perfectly to dwelling on the wider implications of what was happening and why.  I’ll watch the next episode, though.

I watched Molly’s Game – as you see, my big TV movie dining experience of the week.  Based on the life of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic-skiing hopeful turned private poker game runner, it was Aaron Sorkin’s first film as a director, and, thankfully, he wrote the screenplay, too.  It’s the best film I have watched out of those viewed in the last few weeks (which is quite a few…) – certainly in terms of keeping things going, keeping the interest and entertainment high and the quality of dialogue and pacing.  I felt it flagged a little when they explained some of the hands the poker players had, but other than that, excellent.  How deeply one needs dwell on it is another matter: I’m not sure I came away with any sense of ‘something needs to be done about this’, or feeling especially sorry for, or pro, any of them.  At its core, it was a lot of rich kids spending their money, Molly Bloom included, often in a petty, bratty way and always in an entirely self-interested one.  According to this film, at any rate…

I have also moved on with Tiger King…Now this has slackened my jaw with each successive episode.  So much so, that I am still not entirely convinced that it is not a work of fiction filmed and presented as a documentary.  Each new episode has revealed a new, quite outlandish story connected to those involved, as well as new characters, each, in their turn, as outlandish as the others.  The last episode I saw, however, was a lot darker – that point at which, if the fun stops, stop: in the previous ones there had been highs and lows, some even serious.  But this one had one event in particular that pulled me up, telling me it isn’t all just stupid stunts and highjinks.  I really want to find out what’s next, of course…

A criticism levelled at the programme is that it has not really dug into the animal welfare side of things.  One of the main protagonists runs a sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, that is ostensibly there to look after abandoned lions, say, that someone had as a pet before realising that lions don’t make pets…This type of animal; or cubs bred solely for the first 12 weeks of their life, to make as much money for their owner as possible through selling access to petting, photo opportunities and so on, which are then surplus to requirements; is, so the nibs tell me, not suitable for return to the wild.  Outfits like Big Cat Rescue try to give them a home until the lion sleeps no more in the mighty corporeal jungle, but is chasing the celestial antelope instead.  I understand the point that this programme doesn’t trouble itself with this aspect of it, but given the human menagerie on offer, this was never going to be about the animals.  Or not the furry ones, at any rate: I mean, it would have been a brave commissioner who, presented with the finery of the big-cat owning and breeding world on display, said, ‘Yep, love it – let’s go with the living conditions of the cats’.  Not happening.  Quality, if utterly, utterly bonkers.  Recommended.

 

Well, that’s enough of that.  For my next blog, I think it’s high time I wrote one about wine…