March 29 Happy Birthday Francesco and Giovanni
We head to the Osteria Carroarmato to celebrate the 18th birthday of Ugo and Steffie’s twins. Twenty some friends and relatives at a long wooden table. Plate after plate of sliced meats, vegetables, polenta, gorgonzola, lots of happy chatter. It felt wonderful to live in Italy at that moment.
March 26- 30 Tasting at the Vinitaly wine Competition.
I decide to share this honor with Matteo, one of my tasting students. He will take two days and I will do the rest. The idea of 4 full days of tasting from 9 to 5 just does not appeal to me at the moment. Thank goodness they use electronic tablets and spare us judges the fatigue of adding up columns of figures and filling out forms.
We average around 44 wines a day, with 3 to 4 minutes for each wine.
Here is the tip I gave Matteo: Place the glass that you want to be filled on the right hand side of your table and put your hand lightly on the base of the glass. That way the sommelier can fill it without having to lean over the table and sort through the confusion of your 12 glasses. The sommelier will appreciate this courtesy.
I met a fan! Another judge had read and appreciated one of my books and told me so. It never fails to please me when someone says he likes what I have written. I invited him along to my pal Annalisa’s osteria, the Carroarmato, for a book presentation and we stayed for dinner.
I have taken a look at his website and now I am his fan! Here is the address of his blog: www.AlfonsoCevola.com. Wonderful photographs and gentle, interesting commentary. A lovely and amusing man.
March 21 Interviewing Andrea Camilleri
Camilleri, for those who may not know, is Italy’s best loved author and the creator of the wry and observant Sicilian commissario, Salvo Montalbano. I interviewed him for Publishers Weekly at his apartment in Rome.
Here are two rather nice quotes from Camilleri that I won’t put in my article:
“When I don’t have any ideas I might write a letter, for example, to a man I’ve just encountered at a kiosk. It’s a letter I know I’ll never send, but it serves as an exercise. Without that, you get stuck. What’s behind writing? It’s not that the artist writes when he gets inspiration — it’s the work of each day.”
“Two great masters for me are Hammett and Chandler. Perhaps Hammett above all because of his behavior during the Communist Witch Hunt in the 1950s. He ended up going to jail for his views. Now, this was a man who drank nearly a bottle of whisky a day. So going to jail for him was like having a double sentence. It took a great deal of courage.”
Camilleri very kindly signed books for Stefania (who made her family take their last vacation to Sicily so that she could visit all the sites where the Montalbano TV series is filmed) and for Susanna (whose favorite book is Il birraio di Preston.)
Susanna was very pleased when I told her that that book was very significant in the development of Montalbano. In fact without it there might have never been a Montalbano. You see, Camilleri was stuck when writing Il birraio di Preston so he decided to set himself a “creative exercise”: writing a mystery novel. He wanted to see if he could write a linear plot – going from chapter one through to the end and linking each chapter logically. So there you have it, Montalbano started out as a remedy for writer’s block.
March 20 Candy for Camilleri
My husband went to a small hand-made chocolate shop to buy a box of candy to take to Camilleri. (I had done my homework and discovered that he had not drunk wine since 1947 – yes, 1947.) The shop assistant asked my husband if the chocolates were for a woman and he told her they were for Andrea Camilleri.
Shop Assistant (in awe): He’s one of those people that you think don’t really exist.
Michael: You mean like a mythological creature?
Shop Assistant: Yes, exactly!
We take the bus to the airport to see the unveiling of the giant posters advertising Soave that the Consortium has put up. Michael and I helped them tidy up their English slogan. Here are photos of 2 of my favorite Italian Journalists/bloggers. Carlo G. and Maria Grazia, who looks rather fetching in her new purple glasses. Her site: www.soavemente.net
March 16 Dancing to the Tune of Bardolino
The annual Bardolino thrash. Great fun, good band, nice eats, swell people.
March 11 Greek Fans – Wow!
A couple of years ago I got an email from Anistasia K., a teacher at the Iiona School of Music in Greece. She was bringing some students to the Veneto and wanted to meet with me. She uses my wine articles in her English classes. I was unable to meet them on that occasion. BUT SHE’S BACK! She is bringing another group and we agree to meet in Verona. She told me one of her students is writing a thesis comparing Chateau Yquem and Amarone. My mind boggled, particularly when I was introduced to the 14 year old who is writing the piece. What a lively, intelligent boy. All of the students were enthusiastic and polite. It was a real pleasure to meet them.
March 8, 9, 10 Tergeno IGT Ravenna Bianco 2012 from Fattoria Zerbina and Lunch
I drank a glass of this blend of indigenous white varieties (and just a touch of Chardonnay) with my lunch three days running.
It has the body and delicately fruity flavor to go with: a salad of dry, shredded meat, olives and artichokes dressed with lemon and oil; rice salad with ham and peas; and breaded chicken cutlet. A very satisfying wine. The back label suggests that is goes well with seafood and some kinds of raw fish, liver-based dishes and cheeses, or as an aperitif. All of this sounds right to me.