Under the influence.

When I was 43, it was a very good year, I can’t actually remember what I was doing that year, but the vineyards of Château Haut-Batailley seem to have been enjoying some very fine weather, just the right amount of rain and sunshine, right enough to make me forget all about my favourite St.Émilions and to switch to Pauillac, to this property precisely. The fact that I like the label’s design helps as much, I guess, as the fact that I am easily influenced by anything that says Grand Cru Classé en 1855, it really gives the impression these people know what they are doing and it sounds so, well, classy. If I were to describe it, the wine, I mean, its taste, or better yet, its structure, they always talk about a wine’s good structure, don’t they, I wouldn’t be of much help, I just remember an earthy impression, a hint of black currants, too, but I might confuse it with the dessert, chocolate ice cream with cassis, I had a lot, especially of that gorgeous cassis liqueur my parents brought from France, it brings out the flavour of the cocoa so well, so I might be afflicted a little, but I do remember it as ever so pleasant, just like my company, we really had so much fun, okay, I might be compromised by this, too, I really am no authority on wine and most definitely not on this particular Pauillac, but as I said, the label looks smart and it says Grand Cru Classé en 1855, anyway, you just enjoy, cheers, santé and stuff…

From Rioja with love.

My grandmother used to travel and bake a lot after retiring, she had all this time on her hands and filled it with some culinary creativity, and as she was fond of red wine and Spain, she ended up baking but one cake only, her masterpiece, her Rioja cake, commonly and less specifically known as her red wine cake, as in the 1970s, Rioja was quite uncommon a beverage in Germany and she didn’t feel the urge to explain her extravagances to just anybody she had over for tea and sympathy, she was a teacher, the most loved one of her village, her funeral was crowded with former students, she must have been a hell of a teacher, anyway, I, being more into France than into Spain, have always replaced Rioja with some Bordeaux when I made that cake, but now, just to cherish her memory, I opened a bottle of Rioja, the batter takes a quarter of a litre, as well as vast amounts of cocoa, chopped dark chocolate, this one is from Venezuela, quite fitting an origin, it’s a Spanish speaking country after all, anyway, the cake‘s obviously soaked with flavonoids from all that red wine and cocoa, kind of an anti-ageing approach to baking. I think, I’ll have another slice just now.

Pulling a Comus Bassington.

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In November, 2002, I was severely broke. Actually, that’s nothing worth mentioning as I am usually broke, I have Saki’s Comus Bassington as a role model, and he drove his poor mother Francesca mad with his overly extravagant Edwardian lifestyle, mostly because she had to pay this extravagance’s bills, all of them, until she’d had enough of it and sent him to the colonies, to some God forsaken place really far away, I’m panic-fuelled when I think of it. Anyway, as I said, I was really broke, too, that month. Hermès, however, its Hamburg flagship store beautifully situated on my way home from work, didn’t care about that at all, and put a ring in their windows that made me stare at it for some twenty minutes, time enough for reevaluating if food was actually necessary, it seems to be causing all kind of diseases anyway, obesity, at the worst, and I had already given up all Châteaux that call themselves Grand Cru Classé en 1855, and switched to some of these Cru Bourgeois, they are quite drinkable actually, especially when you can’t distinguish a St.Émilion from a Côtes du Rhône, happened to me once, true story, when I decided to pull a Comus Bassington, meaning, I convinced my poor mother I couldn’t live without that ring. And so my poor mother paid the bill, I still have it. It’s a lovely memory. And I am still wearing that ring, in fact, I have never not worn it since November, 20, 2002. And most importantly, I am still waiting to be sent to some God forsaken colony far away by my poor mother …

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