Friday, 30 July 2010
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Monday, 26 July 2010
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Monday, 19 July 2010
And at his feet someone follows. A son or grandson, fluffy blonde hair, fudge-coloured skin, maybe eight years old, a big smile missing his front teeth, soft and thin arms, copying everything the captain does, knowing what to do, winding the heavy ropes, standing on deck looking out, pretending to be his obvious hero, grown-up and trying to impress. And when we stop he jumps into the sea with a childlike squeal, jumping off the top deck, swimming to shore, climbing on board, jumping off again. And we sail again. The two stand side-by-side at the front of the boat, the Captain invisibly, perceptibly with his arm around the boy, smiling, proud as they take the same stance, hand over brow, looking out over the inky water. And then he gets to be the Captain, the boy, and sail across the expanse of open sea. I've never seen so much joy, excitement, command or belonging in a young boy's eyes. He was born to be on the sea, just like the Captain.
(No beer in this post, I just couldn't resist writing about these two. The trip was supposedly the Sporades Sunshine Cruise but was actually an ostensible Mumma Mia Experience, the soundtrack playing throughout, the 'look to your right, that island is clearly shown in the background of a scene, in the scene someone is singing and dancing on the beach' or 'this beach was in the film' or 'if you want to go to the church then you can but you'll have to pay a taxi driver and you'll miss your lunch'. The Captain was actually in the film. He'd be hard to miss - he's the one who looks like he's made from old oak, rope and sand. The boat in the picture, we were told, was also in the film.)
Friday, 16 July 2010
Best, that is, until I discovered something to rival the fresh fried fishes: BBQ'd octopus. Bite-sized chunks of pearly tentacles cooked over coals, tender inside, fire-blistered suckers outside, sweet and smoky and just-fishy, the most charred pieces (the tentacle ends, thin and curled) crispy and meaty, like pork crackling from the sea (I always find pork scratchings have an underlying fishiness to them, anyone else get that? An anchovy-thing, cured and salted). And this one, while great with a cold lager, could be fantastic with a chilled, charry porter or a lemony gueuze. Or with just about any other beer you want.
The best beer snacks? These are now on the list along with sausages and mustard, pork scratchings, chips (of course), crispy chicken skin... Finger foods, little mouthfuls, salty and crispy. I'm hungry now. What else is there?
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Later. We go to the other beach, the close beach. The sea is calm, shimmering and bright blue. Lots of leathery skin all around, pink, brown, flashes of white. Girl with Page 3 tits sits next to guy with Men's Health pecs. Next to them an old couple lie wrinkled and brown like walnuts, asleep on their loungers. Next to them a kid makes sandcastles. His dad stares at the Page 3 tits, the kid's mum reads Mills & Boon, or chicklit or something. I read some more, remember the film, but not that well and decide to watch it again when I get home. Swim. Find a sunset red starfish that looks fake but isn't. The sea is still except for the occasional breaking wave from a cruise ship that passed by 15 minutes ago. Fish all around, some at the surface, some on the sea bed, little darts of silver. Play frisbee back on land. We manage 93 before I drop an easy one. Buy water, beer, fruit and crisps on the way home. Read some more while drinking an Alfa on the balcony as the sun moves out of sight, behind us. One couple are in the pool. She's terribly overweight, tattoos on her shoulders, he's thin, sunburnt, a beer on the pool's edge. They talk too loudly.
The waitress at dinner really doesn't care. I order moussaka and 500ml of house red wine (four euros for the wine). I ask for fried potatoes too. That's what they are called on the menu. She doesn't understand. I point to where it says fried potatoes. Chips, she says. Chips, I say. The moussaka comes in a ceramic pot which means it's beyond hot inside. Lauren doesn't like her dinner so I eat some and it's just okay. She looks good, her skin tanned, little freckles on her nose. I finish the wine.
More bang for your buck, I tell Lauren. I have to explain what this means. She doesn't drink, does she.
Bastard mosquitoes are everywhere. In the night Lauren jumps out of bed and launches a trainer at the ceiling. She turns the light on. I was asleep. It's a fucking cockroach, she screams. It flew in my face. I tell her to turn the light off while she's hitting the cockroach with a broom. It's still alive, she says as she throws another shoe at it. Got it, she says. It's too hot to sleep.
I finish reading the book in the morning. It makes me want to write something. I miss the tap of the keyboard but love the messy scratching of the pencil on paper. Writing in the sun reminds me of Hemingway's The Garden of Eden (without the lesbians or elephants). I'm sitting by the pool, Lauren is on the lilo, unknown pop music is playing somewhere. Later we are going to the beach. Lauren just fell off the lilo.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Food and beer work together best where local food and local beer meet - there's a natural belonging to the two which means they effortlessly pair up, often side-by-side with weather and place: ploughmans and a pint of bitter in a pub garden, carbonnade and a dubbel outside a small Belgian cafe, cheeseburger and a double IPA in a brewpub. The local beers complement and fit neatly with everything around them.
The Greeks know what they are doing when it comes to kebabs. The turning spit of pork is carved to give hot, tender slices of meat and big chunks of fat, some soft, some crispy like crackling. That's a great start. With this you get fresh, garlicky tzatziki, sweet tomatoes, crunchy red onions, ketchup and mustard and chips. Yes, chips INSIDE the kebab. Incredible. It's everything you want and need in a meal and it's all wrapped up in a thick, soft pitta, freshly grilled and slightly charred. Delicious man food.
It's not a grey, sweaty indefinable lump (although many are served by something of this description), it doesn't come with chilli sauce, mate, it's not the reserve of a blurry-eyed 2am re-fuel and it's not served in a styrofoam box. A gyros is what all kebabs wish they were.
And, of course, the only thing to ever drink with it is a Mythos (crisp yet soft carbonation, full bodied, refreshingly cold, a subtle sweetness - it deals with grilled and salty food with uncomplicated ease, as if born to do this very thing).
It's a fast food FABPOW brought to you straight from Greece. But don't try this one at home: it only works whilst sitting outside in the sun, the heat warming your back as you dribble tzatziki down your chin, thinking that there could be nothing more immediately satisfying (in a primal, messy, eat-with-your-hands kind of way) to eat in the whole world.
Friday, 9 July 2010
Last night I squashed a mosquito in my sleep with my feet (take that!). The mosquito, or a friend of his, still bit me. We are currently 1-1.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Monday, 5 July 2010
Cheers Matt. Only eight people are left in with the chance of winning and we're still missing lots of blog posts. If you aren't still in and you haven't posted then I hope you still do. The deadline is the World Cup final so get them posted by then!
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Thursday, 1 July 2010
To keep the post alive... what could the future of beer containers and labelling realistically be? Is plastic an option? Lighter glass? Aluminium bottles/cans? Extra-sensory labels? No labels? Shaped glass? What do you think?