High Speed Pasta
It’s lovely being back in a part of the world where coffee shares the same level of importance as a good cup of tea in England. I’m not saying for one minute that the coffee in Turkey, Serbia and Romania are in any way substandard, but here it’s divine. As is the food produce in general. A day off in Milano on Mayday was a pretty quiet affair. A wander through the streets dodging the intermittent rain showers accompanied by the odd rumble of thunder revealed that nearly all the shops in the city remained closed, including ‘Peck’, that most wonderful Italian temple of gastronomic delights. I’ll return tomorrow. It seems that May 1st is the third quietest day in Italy after Christmas and New Year’s day.
After our stay in the Four Seasons Istanbul, most of us were anxious to check out the gym here only to be a little disappointed. Not quite the spec. of our previous hotel but enough to get a mild sweat on (apparently). It must be a temporary facility whilst they renovate or build the proper one! I passed and went for the in-room yoga session (a few stretches and a kip). A band dinner was on the cards, always an exciting prospect in Italy. We went to the same family-run place we visited when here with Mr. Bob back in 2011 albeit at a different location. The one time of the tour where we actually managed to get out with some of Bob’s band. It was great to hang out with them and share in the delights of masterful Italian cuisine. As was the case this evening, the menu was simple but devastating. A true illustration of the simple fact that if you have the best ingredients, you cannot go wrong. Of course a little Italian know-how is essential and our hosts sure knew-how. As for the plonk….a particularly interesting bottle of ‘Damijan’ Pinot Grigio, made with grapes with the skin left on (non filtrato) had a slightly fortified, full bodied, peachy taste and a rich purple-red colour. The conversation was inevitably mostly about food, cooking, ingredients and somehow we got onto the subject of eggs and how to store and keep them. My question was ‘why would you put eggs in the fridge’? The Americans amongst us are of the opinion that eggs belong in a fridge whereas I think I’m right in saying in Europe, the general consensus is the opposite. A cold egg can surely lead to unreliable boiled egg consistency. Interestingly, our caterers DO store eggs in the fridge but only as temperature vary wildly in the Summer as venue kitchens can get extremely hot. Feel free to discuss.
Show day –
Early morning in the restaurant with the breakfast club, I ordered an eggs Benedict. Italy can be unpredictable at the best of times and I would have expected my much anticipated breakfast to be sublime. It was completely inedible. The eggs were cold and hard, the bread, squashy and lifeless (no muffin) and the hollandaise sauce was 99.99% vinegar. My dog could have prepared better, which of course is a complete lie as when working in the kitchen, Golden Retrievers are renowned for eating all the ingredients before actually cooking them.
Traditionally in the UK any substandard plate of food would not be returned and when the waiter asks if everything is ok, the reply would be “yes, wonderful, grazie” and you would force it down and life would go on. Not so this morning. I think the staff have it in for me now. I’m watching my back!
We left the hotel in traditional Milano local transport (Mercedes bread van driven at racing speed by shaven-headed relative of Andrea de Cesaris (RIP), wearing sunglasses and talking to his mate on a cellphone.. through downtown traffic, prams and dogs flying out the way to avoid being run down) and headed for the Milano Centrale railway station. A grand building not far from our hotel (thankfully) designed by architect Ulisse Stacchini, whose design was modeled after Union Station in Washington, DC. Useless fact of the day. I thank you.
Once on board the 16:05 ‘frecciarossa’ high-speed train, we found our executive compartment located in coach no. 1 and luxuriated in Italian railway refinement. The train slipped away and within a few minutes we were traveling at 297 kilometers per hour. That’s 180 mph!! The line runs parallel to the Milan-Torino highway so we saw the queues of traffic and were grateful for our decision the do the journey this way. Our executive waitress bought us our lunch plates which as you might guess, were delicious.
Richard and Glenn luxuriating..
Then a cup of Illy coffee and we arrived in Torino to a huge thunderstorm. By the time the RR’s pulled up to the venue, the rain had gone.
As soon as the crew boys and girls were ready for us, we headed for the stage for an extended sound check. With many new ideas and arrangements to try and all manner of slight changes and improvements from previous shows, we left the stage an hour later. we were very optimistic about the sound of this arena, it didn’t look like it would sound that great, but it did. When the audience were in for a sold out night, we took to the stage, our hopes fully realized. It sounded fantastic. This was enhanced by the typically excitable, wonderful Italian fans.
There were some great moments in the show from all band members, in my mind, especially Jim. Mike and John were playing some wonderful things too. My keyboard riser was the location for my dubious debut on harmonica and as luck would have it, Jeroen Gerrits sent in a few pics….
After the show, we drove back to Milan in the cars. A journey of around two hours took a little longer due to a seemingly unprompted autoroute closure which meant a wild diversion through rural areas. We arrived back in the hotel at around 1:30am and any thoughts of a nightcap were dissolved by the a grim-faced, huge, bearded, overall-clad janitor spinning an industrial floor polisher around the deserted, floodlit bar.
….so to bed.