A South American Odyssey. This was presented by Cathy who talked about a trip we made to this continent a couple of years ago. Four destinations were mentioned: three countries + the Falkland Islands (which
the Argies insist on calling Las Malvinas). Beginning in Argentina - with its magical and vibrant capital: Buenos Aries - we travelled to Uruguay, the Falklands and Chile before the long flight back from Santiago - Chile's capital. Cathy talked of Buenos Aries
and she showed some slides. The capital is a truly regal place with some very impressive colonial architecture. However, given its shaky past, the currency is not accepted as stable by the world community - and senseless inflation accompanies anyone dumb enough
to hold appreciable amounts. We decided to forego changing sterling on the ship as we heard we could get a better deal "in a certain area". On Florida Street we were approached, rather quickly, by a shady looking guy who asked if we "wanted to exchange some
U.S. dollars". We agreed and started to remove a wad of said cash... Quickly, upon being told "not here", we were ushered to an "office" on a side street. Dear reader - what happened next was a scene borrowed from a very old and dusty black-and-white film
from the distant past... A character, in a crownless peaked cap, and sporting arms like Mike Tyson's, asked "how many dollars we wanted to exchange"? He told us the rate -twice as good as the official one - which we opted to accept (in no way influenced by
the .45 in his holster!). Well, armed with a wad of Argentinean pesos (depreciating by the minute) we went back to our hotel and had a thoroughly pleasant 48 hours in the capital of this beautiful country. Returning to the talk: a bottle of Malbec was sampled.
Malbec was brought to Argentina in the late eighteenth century by European settlers to the Mendoza valley. An overnight voyage across the river Plate brought us to Uruguay. Its capital, Montevideo, literally translating as: "6th hill from the west" (contrasting
with my fevered imagination's "lookout vistas on mountain tops!") was a beautiful, lovely place. Uruguay provides the world with some of the best beef on the planet. Great steak! It is now also home of the Tannat grape. A bottle of this wine was sampled. It
had a full, fruity and semi-astringent effect on the palate. If the tannin were allowed to soften in time, the fruit would have disappeared - so it was right to drink it now. Then we voyaged across 400 miles of stormy waters to reach the Falkland Islands:
a barren, windswept place about the size of Wales. Cathy related how the inhabitants, so fiercely patriotic as to make one quite ashamed, eked out their existence by farming and fishing. Their capital, Port Stanley, could easily have sprung from rural Dorset
- neglecting that the roofs were all of corrugated iron! Penguins. Ah - charming creatures! There were many colonies of various species; but we decided to visit the rock hoppers on Berkeley Sound. If you stood upwind of them they were absolutely delightful!
Cathy related how the penguins, having complete disregard for written notices, swarmed over both sides of a rope designating penguin-only areas! She then produced some scones topped with diddle-dee jam. The diddle-dee grows low among the wind-swept tussocks
of coarse grass so typical of the island's vegetation. Diddle-dee berries, very similar to bilberries in appearance, are, however, not related. Next, the ship was to face the dreaded encounter with Cape Horn... Nobody on the vessel had any doubts about the
frightful reputation of these boiling waters for swallowing up ships and grinding the occupants to dust on remote and fearsome rocks... Deepest joy accompanied rounding the Horn in millpond smooth waters and making our way up the splendid Chilean coast! The
Patagonian fiords are so impressive - they simply defy description! Journeying up this beautiful country we finished in Santiago; there we stayed for two days before the 14 hour flight home! Cathy ended the talk with a tasting of wine from Chile's adopted
national grape: the Carménère. A noble survivor from pre-phylloxera France...
That's The Spirit!
Absinthe has a bit of a reputation. It was outlawed in France at the end of the nineteenth century - though, strangely, not in Britain. It is, of course, a potent
green liquor: hence its nickname: the green fairy. The French decided to ban it because it seemed to be the root cause of many an outlandish or outrageous behaviour by its drunken adherents: the most notable being the pathetic, yet highly talented, Victor
Van Gogh. Incidentally, there are so many utterly mistaken ways of pronouncing this painter's name - for example Americans always call him Van Go - that I felt gratified upon hearing a Dutchman refer to him definitively as "Van Hoch" - as in loch (Ness). Anyway,
absinthe, which goes milky when mixed with water, has an aniseed flavour - and is ALWAYS drunk diluted with such. It would cause fearful damage to your stomach if you ever drank it neat... At around 70% vol. the liquor, even with a 50:50 dilution is as strong
as your average Johnny Walker! The French wanted to produce a liquor which retained the characteristics of absinthe but without its most destructive side-effects. Their solution was pastise (literally - pastiche) of which Pernod and Ricard are the most well
known... Yes, they are a pastiche of their more famous parent - but the French decided they be produced without the herb Wormwood. Wormwood contains a number of toxic alkaloids (compounds related to morphine) such as Thujone. It was these alkaloids that were
reputed to be the root cause of absinthe's maddening effect upon the drunks who consumed it. More recently, the primary cause of absinthe's well deserved reputation has been identified as - yes: alcohol! If you make a liquor with such a high alcoholic strength
- then you are going to get some pretty strange behaviour from its consumers! The impressionists (what a bunch!) were always high upon it! Pictured is Degas' famous "Absinthe Drinkers".
Next Month's Meeting (March)
This will be the last meeting before the AGM. Peter Seach will entertain us with stories of his "life on the road" when he was working as an accountant. Peter has a natural charm and style and we look forward
to his amusing anecdotes.
Dry: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd
Tom Rix, 3rd Les Maskrey
Medium: 1st Les Maskrey, 2nd Cathy Rishman, 3rd Bob Dye
Sweet: 1st Les Maskrey, 2nd Cathy Rishman, 3rd Tom Rix
Thanks to judges: Yvonne and Gerald.
Next Month's Competitions (March)
Annual Dinner 2018
This will take place on April 27 2018. The cost this year is £29 per head. The menu and tear-off for your selections is attached. Please get these back to Les by March 31;
this allows the hotel to know the exact number for which they are catering. Also, Les will promulgate the wine list in the next newsletter. He would like to know your choice of wine so the hotel is aware of the number of bottles they need to reserve. The wine
is paid for on the night and is not included in the cost for the dinner.
Nomination And Membership Forms
Whilst it was only the membership forms should have gone out last month, they were accompanied by the nomination forms. Chris should have received the completed membership forms, but the nominations
ought to come to the secretary. I haven't received any yet - probably because of their early issue. However, please consider this matter carefully. The committee serves the club, but it does need to be elected at the AGM. If you have lost the form and need
a replacement, please let me know and I will send one out. Many thanks.
Duncan Oakley (of Tunbridge Wells Winemaking Circle), as you are doubtless aware, died on Christmas day 2017. A prolific and successful winemaker - Duncan
has left his entire collection of demijohns, and other winemaking paraphernalia, to anyone who makes, or is contemplating making wine. For those of you who have never made it and wondered where to start - this is an excellent opportunity! Please contact Les
Bates for further details. Since writing this, I have had another enquiry from the website. This lady writes: all items are free and we hope they do someone a good turn.
items are quite sophisticated and are pictured on a separate attachment. If you are interested, please contact Juliet Cherry direct. She tells me they were her late father's and he was a very keen winemaker. They look just right for the Jock Franklin competition!
Please contact the secretary for her address and email.
We make wine from fruit and vegetables. However, there is no reason to throw the stuff away after its initial maceration - I often use the left-over fruit in pies or other delectations. Here's one Cathy
made with the left-over cherry pulp following her winemaking entry to the Tonbridge Winemakers' Country Wine class in the coming Open Show.
Butter - 6 oz, Breadcrumbs - 8 oz, Caster sugar - 3 tbsp,
Cinnamon, Pulp left over from cherry wine - or equivalent (eg 2 x 14 oz cans of cherry pie filling. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) or Gas Mark 5. Melt 4 oz butter in a saucepan and add breadcrumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Cook, with constant stirring, till golden
brown. Grease an ovenproof dish with a little butter, line the base with ½ inch layer of the bread mixture. Cover with a layer of the pie filling. Continue building up layers until all ingredients are used. Dot top layer with butter. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and leave to cool. Serve with custard or whipped cream.