On Tuesday afternoon I went into my beloved Catalina coffee for an afternoon pour-over of their fabulous Rwanda coffee that had recently arrived. I had just eaten a below-average lunch at a “hot” joint on Wash-Av and needed a dose of quality in my diet to assuage the misery in my still hungry stomach. At my sad lunch I had ordered a Ceviche and a Mushroom tamale for my lunch. My server came to my table moments later with tamale in-hand and informed me that the kitchen had dropped my Ceviche and would be re-making it. I informed him very politely that I really wanted the cold ceviche before my warm tamale and he obligingly took it back and very likely stuck in under a lamp. [Read more...]
Here is part 7 of the day the disco broke down
As we strolled happily towards the car with our tokens wagging and our hearts beating at 140bpm we knew we had conquered the day and that this was indeed a birthday to remember. Birthday girl gazed up at the sky on our walk back to the car and uttered eloquently and slurring as only a drunk pretty girl can “look at the moon.” I knew we had accomplished this mission in Puglia and it was time to roll home.
As soon as the Audi cranked I felt the glow of the low fuel light and the range was now on ZERO KM. Once again, I had seen Puglia Boy on many occasions milk that ZERO for 10-15km so I assumed I was good to go as it was only 7-10km back to the Bday and Lobster’s hotel. I would drop off no-longer Bday girl and still very lobster-head boy then cruise into the self-service station a few blocks away for 10 euro worth of diesel and leave the car for Puglia boy at empty in the AM.
The drive back was so quiet with the sunroof open and windows down (we had very likely 30% temporary hearing loss from the disco). Everyone noticed the gas light, but my completely iced demeanor kept the team’s worries at bay and their eyes began to roll back in their heads as bday girl mumbled about wanting more bubbles and lobster was willing to oblige her. I just wanted to GTFO and hit the pillow running.
We made it easily back to Monopoli on “E” and I dropped 1/2 the crew at their hotel. I noticed the corner bar was closed and knew there would be no more bubbles for them as I watched them mope off to their hotel when I turned the car for the station. For some reason at this point, Puglia and my desire for sleep completely clouded my ability to reason and as the station approached I pushed on the accelerator and up-shifted as my wife’s face sank with fear and disdain.”What the hell are you doing Michael,” she said, “It’s all good, I am leaving Puglia boy with this bitch empty tank and that’s what he gets for leaving it on “E” all the time and putting me in charge of bday fun. Serves him right.” I was now at 120kmph and headed down the SS16 for Capitolo
when…glug..glug..uuuummmm..glug..downshift…push accelerator…bogging down, bogging down…think fast asshole..think..shift to neutral..road flat..fuck fuck fuck…cars passing..flashers you stupid idiot Michael..flashers! glug..glug…glow of all instruments and warning lights..engine gone…silence say for the air moving in the windows..windows up now..no power…fuck fuck fuck..wife oh no..wife real pissed..real scared…moron, fuck, moron! DAMN YOU PUGLIA BOY!!!
It was 03:45 am and my wife Juliet and I were pushing a 2005 Audi A4 wagon on the very busy SS16 from Monopoli back to our villa in Capitolo. Cars filled with mostly drunken disco douche bags were streaming by at 150 kilometers per hour and we were making at best 10kmph into a headwind. This was clearly a dangerous situation and we were in fact, out of gas and ¼ mile from safety.
This is how it began and how it shall end. Thank God we had made it to one of Europe’s best inventions, the roadside emergency pull-out. This amazing concept every 2km or so on the highways allows for a safe exit from the road directly out of harm’s way and with an emergency phone. Since I was well beyond the legal alcohol limit of Italy I did not think a call to emergency assistance was prudent and up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light, my head grew heavy and my “mind” was dim so I told Juliet to steer while I pushed.
The AGIP station was 300 meters ahead on the right and with each passing death machine on the highway I knew I was soon to be clipped by a SMART car and my legs cut off at the knee. I was now running at the best pace I could muster in my disco clothes, beaten down body, and I knew if this damned car was not a diesel I could have breathed some ethanol into the tank and it would have fired right up. As it was, I was huffing hard-core when a random Samaritan came from the station (a customer) and met me as Juliet was guiding the car towards the wrong side of the pump for our fuel tank.
The guy starts helping me push as I am cussing out Puglia Boy in my best attempt to get all cazzato and use the words I love so much. We reached the attendant after much screaming, steering, and pleading. The “company” logo on the car hood was aglow under the big shiny station awning and the attendant looked at me and said “this is Puglia boy’s car”, I tell him it is actually our company car and that it was indeed Puglia Boy that ran it out of fuel. The attendant is laughing his ass off and says to me “no way, not Puglia boy, he would never do that” (facetiously of course).
It seems everyone knows him, knows his habits, and understands completely: everyone but me of course. I tell the attendant pieno (fill’er up), shake the car a bit to get the diesel back in the lines and the air out. We fire the Audi and drive on relieved and exhausted to Capitolo at 4am. Of course Puglia boy awoke the next day to find the car full of fuel and being well rested he went about his day as if that is just how things work when you are confident, sure of the world around you, and have a super conscientious guy on your side everyday. Things would never be the same after this night, and as I dumped the sand from my flip-flaps I knew I was likely done with this dance once and for all.
Here is part 6 of the day the disco broke down
After Da Matteo our Italian friends, Puglia Boy and Chef Girl, called it a night and even though we urged them to join our American beach-bound birthday bash the Italiani simply were not having it and I believe they just wanted a quiet evening alone. As we sat on our porch enjoying a bottle of wine (or several) we could hear the discos in the background revving up into the foreground and we were getting noticeably excited.
Here is part 5 of the day the disco broke down
Now, the disco in Puglia is not your father’s club scene. This is Italy first and foremost, and we actually were living in a small villa at the epicenter of the summer disco onslaught; the beach town of Capitolo. Say this name to any Italian aged 19-31 and they immediately begin to groove in time with the music in their immediate memories, they will begin to drift in and out through the recollections of 3am make-out sessions on the beach, and will only snap back to reality with a vocal or physical jab!
Dear Readers I am posting from the plane over the Atlantic Here is part 4 of the day the disco broke down
Exhausted, nauseated, and suffering from a sudden case of cat shat fever our group of weary birthday revelers had made it to and from Lecce, eaten like queens, and now roamed the industrial back-streets of Monopoli in a scorching summer sun in order to return home to prepare for one of Puglia’s, if not Italy’s, greatest dinners (and values) at the gem of Triggianello: Braceria da Matteo.
Welcome followers of Bliss. This is a multi-part series as a test pilot for my upcoming book on Italy travel and life in the boot. I thought this an appropriate final series before our departure to Italy on Monday; where we will be researching the rest of the book. Enjoy! Here is the link to PART 1
“Meglio non avere una storia che averne una noiosa.”
Better to have no story than to have a boring one – From the label of a bottle of Castello, a Friulian beer
As our blood sugars depleted while we meandered the fleeting shade of Lecce’s not so grand avenues near the station, I knew I could count on a secret weapon to get this birthday celebration started properly and assuage the demise of our collective spirits. My weapon of choice was; the Pasticiotto! This absolutely compelling oval of shortbread filled with pastry cream is essential to any nutritious Leccese breakfast and I was certain that each participant in this day of honor would be well served by ingesting one of these bad boys and washing it down with some of the killer locally roasted Quarta Caffe. [Read more...]
This is the chicken man. He is the most incredible butcher of poultry I have ever seen. His ability to de-bone and prepare a chicken breast sotille (very thin) is nothing short of mastery.
Enjoy this short video where you will actually hear me and my enthusiastic bad Italian at the end of the film.
I can’t wait to see him in less than 2 weeks!
It was 03:45 am and my wife Juliet and I were pushing a 2005 Audi A4 wagon on the very busy SS16 from Monopoli back to our villa in Capitolo. Cars filled with mostly drunken disco douche bags were streaming by at 150 kilometers per hour and we were making at best 10kmph into a headwind.
This was clearly a dangerous situation and we were in fact, out of gas and ¼ mile from safety. [Read more...]
To celebrate 20 years of Italy Travel I present you 20 years of Me As you can see I still love cameras and sunglasses.