Category Archives: Europe Trip

The gift of generosity

I am learning this summer that generosity is abundant here in Europe. What a wonderful character trait it is too. I find myself surrounded by generous people. I recently wrote about James in Paris . I just discovered that Phil in Genoa also has the gift of generosity.

Genoa Phil and his family came to visit Malaga and brought us this delightful wine from Sardegna. It tasted nothing like sardines – which was a good thing.

Phil and Donna also brought us this fabulous Chianti – which tasted exactly like Chianti. Friendship and generosity never tasted so good.
I need to practice my generosity – it makes people feel good.

A rather complicated source

Sometimes the stories behind a wine are just as interesting as the wine itself. Often they are better. James in Paris hooked me up with these two bottles.


The rosé from an Albanian friend who distributes for Famille Sumeire – a small family winery in Provence. The 1998 Reserva Rioja from an Irishman living in Paris who collected this bottle while living in Spain. He gave it to James in Paris as a thank you for helping him move the contents of his cellar (or “cave” as the French have it) two blocks down the road to his new home.



Both were fantastic wines. Why I ended up with them is simply a story of generosity. Thanks James in Paris.

And thanks Brother in Spain who cooked this canard for me in Paris to enjoy with the wine.


Noonish in Paris

Living out my own version of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris I had lunch in Paris – a picnic in Luxembourg garden to be exact – and the Police du Jardin were on patrol.

I believe that they are ticketing people who haven’t properly chilled their white wine

I think we are good

Google translate this

I have been “comment dit on” and “s’il vous plaît”-ing my way around France trying to navigate my way through food shops, cafés, and wine stores. So far so good – and the google translate app has been very useful too. However this needs no translating – c’est fou

The sign in the basket says Côtes du Rhone 2€90

Mon café

This just in from the espresso trail files. This cost me 1 Euro 60

The espresso is ordered “noisette”and it comes with a little cookie and a shot of jus. Yay France.
Disclaimer – it also cost me the price of a plane ticket to Europe and 2 weeks accommodation

Monster under my bed

Is it only me or does anyone else remember jumping onto the bed from the hallway – just in case there was a monster under your bed?  It rarely occurs to me anymore that there might be something nefarious under my bed waiting to “get” me.

However, I’ve been staying at Brother-in-Spain’s house for the past 2 weeks and decided that a peek under the bed – just to see – might help me sleep better (I might also sleep better if the neighbourhood dogs would shut up at night). Look what I found!

There was a box of LAN Reserva Rioja 2005!  That doesn’t seem scary at all.  I discovered that my brother had been stockpiling wine anticipating my visit.  The last time he stockpiled anything was the Y2K scare – I think he still has  a year’s supply of sardines and bottled water left.

I was a little scared, but I opened the box anyway and was rewarded with delicious rioja.  That helps me sleep at night knowing that the monster under my bed is a monstrously good red wine.

What to wear

I have recently found out that packing for a vacation is both an art and a science.  My wife taught me the phrase “colour story” and I was enlisted to do a “practice pack”.  This art of packing involves several trips to stores and malls and subsequent trips to return the stuff that didn’t work.

I think all I really needed to remember was to pack something other than a white shirt for when I met up with  my favorite Malagueño - Mario,.  Mario owns the olive, almond, and everything Spanish kiosk at the Malaga Atarazanas market.   I knew that Mario would reach behind him to the wineskin hanging on the wall, shoot a stream of sweet Malaga wine into his mouth and then hand me the wineskin.   I’m out of practice for this sort of drinking and red stains on my white shirt is not part of my colour story..

Purple shirt hides the wine stain

Note to self

I made some notes to myself on my first full day  in Spain – you can think of this as a cross-cultural blog today.

It’s a coolish day here in the south of Spain – should only get up to 38 C.  My first night was typically uneventful – if you consider loud dogs and freaked out roosters normal occurrences.  Here is the account of my night.

9 pm – kickoff for the Euro 2012 championship game. Spain vs Italy

9:20 – Spain scores, the entire city roars with cheering, dogs bark in response for 10 minutes, fireworks explode across our valley. This repeats itself three more times as Spain beats Italy 4-0

12 am – Brother-in-Spain sabers a bottle of Cava rosado to celebrate Spain’s win. Note to self – saber a bottle of cava soon – it probably won’t explode in my hand but look up “Emergency room” in my Spanish English dictionary anyway

1 am – in bed, fan set to level 2, it has cooled to a lovely 31 C.

3:30 am – alarmingly, the German Shepherd right next door barks incessantly for 10 minutes. Note to self – look up the Spanish phrase, “Shut up stupid dog”.

5:30 am – 3 roosters attempt to out-crow each other, or they recorded last night’s soccer game and are now watching it together. Note to self – look up a good recipe for Coq au Vin.

7am – Woke up so that I can have espresso when the sun comes up over the mountain.  Google translator tells me that shut up stupid dog is “Cállate estúpido perro”.  Note to self – memorize this phrase. I can look up a Coq au vin recipe tomorrow.

If you haven’t celebrated Spain’s Euro Championship with a bottle of Rosado Cava then do it today – unless you’re Italian

Malaga Sherry Bar

I’m going to let my photos speak a thousand words. These were taken at Casa de la Guardia – a sherry bar – in downtown Malaga. If this doesn’t make you want to start drinking sherry then that’s on your own conscience.



The red clams moved when we squirted lemon juice on them. Then we ate them.
Notice the bill – la cuenta – written with chalk on the bar.

Spanish Math

Forgive me if this turns into a travel blog for a couple of months – I’m in Spain soaking up another Euro Championship, some sun, and some Cava

3  por 2 is my new favorite Spanish math.  We bought 3 Segura Viudas brut nature cava – Lavit – for the price of 2.   Loco!

That means that if I do my math correctly I can get 6 for the price of 4.  When have you ever seen that at the LCBO? Furthermore they are delicious.  They are inexpensive enough that I’m going to attempt to saber one open if I can convince my wife that our travel health insurance covers me for accidents related to opening champagne with the back of a chef’s knife. Video to follow.


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