For those kind enough to express concern, yes, I am alive and well and settling into Porto, or more accurately, Gaia, where I now have a flat. But the throes of my language studies, job hunting and general settling-in would not make for fascinating reading, I imagine.
So my very flimsy excuse for writing now is a bottle of wine which has kept me company for three of the past four or five nights (I don’t drink much, what can I say?). Last May I wrote about my visit to Quinta do Casal Branco in the Ribatejo, just south of Almeirim. They make quite a broad range of wines, I tasted only about a half dozen back in May. Earlier this week I needed some wine for cooking – and the cook decided she needed some too – and bought a bottle of their 2008 Quinta do Casal Branco, vinho regional Ribatejano Vinho Branco, which is a pure Fernão Pires. It did well in a reduction with a little white balsamic vinegar for a sautéed chicken breast, brussel sprouts and endive dish. Also did well washing down same – how many wines can withstand brussel sprouts, really? Very crisp semi-fruit semi-floral palate, and refreshing acidity. Can’t comment reliably on the colour as I am drinking from a pottery beaker I normally use for tea-drinking, not a wine glass (still awaiting word when, if ever, my things will arrive from England, thankfully I have had this beaker with me on all my travels since June).
Tonight I finished the last two glasses left in the bottle – the first glass washed down a pile of steamed veg over baked potato, cutting nicely through all the butter and parmesan, shame on me, and the second glass has gone even more nicely with a volume of Fernando Pessoa. Admittedly in English – though I will start trying to read some of it in Portuguese, will treat myself to a book next week. Food and wine are cheap here, so more money for books.
Slightly hokey still life – the wine, the book, the british pottery beaker, and a plate and bowl of Portuguese hand made pottery from Viana do Castelo, north of Porto. There is a strong tradition of pottery in this country, and several very distinct regional styles. I shall probably collect a bit of each over time, but this was the most appealing to me for every day staring-up-at-me-from-under-my-food table ware. And it was the most nearly local, which I felt was appropriate.
Happy New Year – Bom Ano Novo