Adventure, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Craig Sera Sera

Craig Sera Sera, that’s a wrap from the 12th Bond.. and he’ll sure miss those exotic missions.

So which countries has 007 visited most, other than England where he works?

Well of the 50 he’s been to, Italia would seem to have been his favourite with the spy having touched down in Il Bel Paese eight times. 

Pasta Master

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Rome, Venice and Como have inevitably been stick-on locations for any filmmaker and international man of mystery.

And this time it’s the European City of Culture for 2019, Matera, which is getting its place in the sun this time. 

With its houses. built into caves, cobbled streets and high arches a dramatic backdrop for the opening scenes.

And Felice Giorni for Matera with the town’s mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, predicting its association with Bond will be worth $20 million to the local economy.

In truth this is probably the highpoint of the movie, and all before the credits and Billie Eilish’s disappointing dirge of a soundtrack.

As Daddy’s Little Girl rightly pointed out the best bits were the locales. 

Live and Let Spy

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

With Britain and America enjoying that much feted special relationship it is unsurprising that The Oo Es of Eh is his next favourite stop-off.

And we particularly enjoy his forays into Florida and its keys… whose pleasures I had to put off on the outbreak of Covid but where I intend to fulfil just as soon as.

Ski another day

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

Next up might be less predictable, Austria, but then we have to remember its stunning snowscapes and Bond’s love of winter sports which of course we share.

Although we have never seen him on the slopes of Soll while we have enjoyed skiing alongside some dapper fancied-dressed folks.

And we look forward to seeing a penguin-suited Bond on the piste some time soon.

For Bond anoraks it’s an easy question but which is the only country in a film title?

The spy who came in from the Red

Dance away: Russia

Yes, the old Soviet Union, or Russia as we knew it in shorthand.

And as well as the titular film From Russia With Love, Bond turns up in Fabergeland another three times.

Turkish crossroads

Hamam bam: Istanbul

It has been the crossroads for espionage since first the first looked out over each other at either side of the Bosphorus.

And, of course, Istanbul, has been an ideal backdrop for Bond’s adventures… and yours, and mine with three films taking in Turkey’s biggest city.

Three’s a charm

Limber up: The next Bond?

And among those countries where Bond has a trio of visits is Hong Kong, Spain, the Bahamas, Scotland, his homeland and Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned the books.

And the West Indies’ biggest island is where we first fell in love with Bond on the Laughing Waters beach in Ocho Rios.

Or Sean Connery to be more precise, even if you were a red-blooded bloke, you actually wanted to be him.

Wear a swimsuit: Craig as Bond

And be with Ursula Andress.

There was much fuss too about Daniel Craig with his take on coming out of the water, ripped and in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Only thing is a budgie has more charisma.

Craig Sera Sera… whatever will be, will be.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – pasta masta

Was it you who took all the pasta from the supermarket shelves?

Who knew that that was our go-to food in time of crisis.

Italian Mammas, of course, have been serving pasta as a cure-all since Julius Caesar were a lad, with that special ingredient of love.

And with Bandanaman’s l’amore to Italia and to flag up our friends, the travel providers, who have taken us there for years www.topflight.ie, www.tuiholidays.ie and www.sunway.ie among others.

Here’s a dishy Italian treat…

Aperitivo

Now this one is the easiest of the lot with Prosecco or Campari as a kicker… or my choice the Venetian favourite, the Aperol Spritz: Prosecco, Aperol and soda water.

Antipasto

Bruschetta, Central Italy: Or maybe as far back as Classical Rome with the Latins’ verb ‘bruscare’ meaning ‘to roast over coals’.

But you knew that?

The bruschetta is what you make it, and you will have all this around your cucina.

Garlic-rubbed grilled bread, salt, pepper, tomatoes, basil leaves and oil.

Primo

Risi e Bisi, Padua: Now it’s always good to know that you have the Anthony Bourdain seal of approval.

I was also guided to Anthony’s fave Risi e Bisi by my hosts in Padua.

It looks easy too and in fact is so this is something you can rustle up in double jig time.

Now I’m reliably informed by Anthony that the peas and rice float in a vegetable broth made from a simple base of onion and pancetta — the fatty, cured-pork cut.

And that it was always served at the Doge’s Banquet on April 25 which sounds like a good idea for an Italian-themed night at home.

Visit https://www.venetoinside.com/discover-veneto/plan-your-holiday-in-veneto/top-10-places-to-visit-in-veneto/ and http://www.italia.it/en/home.html.

Now this is where I get confused… my Italian friends variably tell me this is a main course.

But my old Italian teacher Donata said that it’s a primo and that the secondo be chicken, meat or fish along with the contorno of vegetables.

Secondo

Chicken cacciatore, all across Italy: Should you decide a bistecca is not for you and object to, or just don’t like, veal then pass up on the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.., besides its serving suggestion isn’t well done enough for mio.

The simple to make (and most Italian dishes are) chicken cacciatore which involves frying chicken cuts with base ingredients of onion, garlic and tomato is something even I could cook.

Particularly as I’ve been shown my penne from my tagliatelle by my friend Catherine Fulvio at her Ballyknocken House & Cookery School https://ballyknocken.ie.

Dolce

Fragola Gelato, Rome: Now, you might be expecting a tiramisu here but I’m not a coffee, creamy signore… in fact the only cream I like is ice cream.

So dish me up a fragola (strawberry) gelato and you’ll not get a peep out of me (well, maybe!). See https://www.rome.net.

Caffe

And I’m going to deviate from the script here with una ciocolatta calda densa, a hot chocolate that is more of a thick chocolate pudding.

Digestivo

A Grappa perhaps, or a Limincello… and the latter has made it over in our move from Ireland to Scotland.

And returned to our freezer. And now that mia moglie has gone into the distilling business with her alcohol sanitiser then it’s a small step surely to making Limoncello.

Now we just need some lemon trees and a Mediterranean diet.

Vino

Of course a full Chianti or Valpolicella is usually what il dottore ordered.

But instead I’ll opt for a pinot grigio seeing that it’s a white meat dish.

And seeing that I want to evoke Rome and an al fresco family meal just outside the Pantheon.

Then I’m going to plump for due bottiglie di Lazio Pinot Grigot Cantina Gabriele.

And we’ll maybe slap on some Vivaldi and look up at our painting of the Castello Sant’Angelo in Rome and know that we’ll be back.

Because, of course, we threw some coins into the Trevi Fountain.

Lire, naturally… I am Scottish!

And here’s my love letter to Rome… Small roads lead to Rome and https://www.rome.net.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Italy – Il Bel Paese, the beautiful country

They’ve thrived and survived the Caesars, volcanic eruptions, the Vandals and the Goths, Napoleon, the Nazis and Mussolini… and Italy WILL survive Coronavirus.

The Italians have been at the Travel Fair, IMM2020, in London, this week.

Out doing what they do best… putting on their best front to the world.

It isn’t time now to deliver blame for Italy being in lockdown.

Rather it is best to dig out our holiday snaps, put on those old Dean Martin records and maybe a Fellini film.

Maybe go to our favourite Italian restaurant where your restaurateur is your best friend and you get the best pasta and risotto al funghi and Chianti.

And guess who knows how to make pasta from scratch now… thanks to my pal Catherine Fulvio at her Balkynocken Coikery School https://ballyknocken.ie

With Topflight, the Italian specialists www.topflight.ie. Also visit http://www.italia.it/en/home.html

Because if Italy can’t bring us out to them at the moment let’s bring Italy out to us.

The Roman Empire

Of course what the Romans did for us was only to give us all in the Western World the building blocks of civilisation.

I saw much of that on my walk along the Via Francigena, the last 100kms from Viterbo in Lazio into Rome Small roads lead to Rome and www.FrancigenaWays.com.

Where every small town boasted an antiquity, a fresco.

It wasn’t built in a day and Italy and Italians won’t be destroyed in a day either.

FORZA ITALIA