Thursday, July 25, 2013


Day 11, July 18, 2013
Today was to be a day of total rest. The Vermeer's were off to Siena and the Danish family was going to the beach. We've never ventured to the coast, it's only a short drive but we're not a family that does very well in the sand. That meant that the pool was all ours for the day and we took advantage of it.
Chef Reechard but on his toque and whipped up another incredible pasta for lunch. He combined fresh tortellini stuffed with ricotta and spinach with a sauce made from roasted cherry tomatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper. He added pancetta that he sautéed with onions and garlic and then blended it all with some of the pasta water and parmesan. We tend to eat really well here in Armena
That evening we were invited to a wine tasting and jazz concert in the fortress atop Montelcino.
The fortress was built in 1361 in the shape of a pentagon. In the center of the fortress was a large open area with the concert stage set at one end and a tent for wine at the other. It had rained late that afternoon taking the temperature down to sweater weather by the time of the concert. In Italy nothing starts early.
The concert was scheduled to begin at ten. The first performer took the stage a half hour after that. The Saraceni's had reserved a table for all of us, a total of eight this time. I was reluctant to be added to the guest list once I heard the late starting time. I'm not much for late night activities that require me to remain in an upright position.
Nonetheless I donned a jacket and rode along. I didn't regret it. There were two performers scheduled for that night.
Nick The Nightfly opened the evening with a voice as smooth and cool as ice. He sang and spoke in perfect English and Italian giving me not a clue to his background. Apparently his local fame is as a disc jockey on Radio Monte Carlo but he has produced numerous albums as well.
His guest performer was Sarah Jane Morris, an English singer with awkwardly strange stage presence. You have to do a double take when she walks out onto the stage, frizzy red hair blowing in her face, a dress that was reminiscent of a Swiss dirndl outfit made from pieces of faded vintage fabric. The skirt had a Bo-peep hoop and she fastened the whole with thing with a red vinyl belt. She looked like a cross between a handmade Raggedy Ann and a Barnum and Bailey clown act. It made it very hard to take her seriously. Her stage act didn't help much to change your mind. She had a bit of a drunken swagger coupled with some introductory nonsense that I couldn't even begin to follow even though she spoke in English. But her voice was magic. You had to close your eyes to hear it but she had total control of her vocal instrument, a low almost manly range that could peak on notes that were close to screams. Our Dutch contingent thought her more of a joke than an artist but I was in love with this voice.
They were selling her CDs at a little table in the back of the courtyard next to the wine tent. I should have bought one. These two performers wiped away the chill of the night and poured on some real musical heat.

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