Tag Archives: Food and Drink

The unwelcome patron

The Barman’s Nemesis…

Over the course of the past two weeks I have realised that a tee-total, Virgin Mary drinker may well be the least welcome customer in many a Tavern around the world.  It’s fiddly drink that needs to be made to suit personal tastes and yet, as it’s predominantly tomato juice, there is little scope for price inflation.  There’s lots of value add from the Bar Staff, but little value creation from their perspective.  The simple addition of a shot of vodka would increase the cost by approximately 400%.

I like to think this explains the unwelcoming glances I receive from the Bar Staff as I approach for my early evening aperitif.  Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but I believe there is a certain reluctance as the (healthy) nibbles were handed over to accompany my drink.  The addition of an occasional Gin & Tonic goes some way to re-dressing the balance, but in itself it doesn’t appear to fully make up for my deficiencies.

Healthy nibbles… very civilised!

This holiday has been a little different from past experiences as far as the Nightlife is concerned.  Rather than being Party Animals, racking up huge Bar bills and being a safe bet to be there when Last orders are called, we have been very subdued.  Our evening entertainment has largely revolved around a nice meal and a family games of cards.

For me, a late night in the Bar loses it’s appeal somewhat without the allure of a cold beverage to help liven things up.

We have even had to resort to deceit to maintain some level of social acceptability.  Each evening we have ordered a bottle of wine with dinner… “two glasses please”.  This may seem like a strange move given I’m not drinking, but having explored the options it seemed like the path of least resistance.  My role has been to sit with a glass of wine in front of me throughout the meal, subtly switching with Louise from time to time to create the illusion of gradual consumption… the two of us sharing a nice bottle of wine, as civilised people do.

We’re pretty sure that most of the Waiters / Waitresses have cottoned on to our little deceit.  Not that it makes a huge amount of difference to them, but to “us” it feels more acceptable.  The next best option would be to order a small bottle of wine with one glass.

We’ll have a bottle of the red please.

The question is, when does it become more socially acceptable to order a large bottle than to order multiple small bottles?

I’m inclined to think that at least ordering a large bottle shows you’re realistic about how much you’re likely to drink.  You don’t have to drink it all (for the record, we have taken half a bottle to our room each evening to provide sustenance during the family card game), but it’s there of you fancy another little glass.

The flip side is that you order a little bottle, and then another, and perhaps another.  Without an attentive Waitress you may end up with a collection of bottles lined up across your table… and no guarantee of anything to take back to your room for later.

We’re new to all this.  Beverage etiquette has never really been a concern in the past.  We used to work on the basis that you ordered a drink… you drank (and repeat as required).  Another “new life” experience for us all!

An ice cold beer

untitled (46)

Officially my most craved after meal. I eat lots of fish, but not like this!

Since I’ve been “being good”, people have asked me on a regular basis whether I enjoy my new regime.  The best way I can describe it is that it is like moving overseas to live in a new country… it is new and exciting but there are aspects of my old life that I miss.  This can take various forms but often revolves around food and drink; the passing smell of some fine, forbidden food, the craving for something salty, an indulgent dessert, a hit of caffeine, the crispy surface and fluffy centre of a well-cooked chip, or an ice cold beer on a hot sunny day.

untitled (47)The physical environment obviously has a major influence on my cravings, as do associations with the “old life”.  Ice cold beer has tended to be a major feature of most of my foreign holidays; a pool-side treat to help pass the day, a pre-dinner tipple to start the evening off, or a refreshing late night pick-me-up.  In fact, ice cold beer seems to feature quite highly in many of my holiday memories!  Not this one!

I have now gone 122 days without alcohol passing my lips (not that I’m counting!).  I suspect I had enough in the preceding 122 days for my average still to be on the high side of the healthy limit.  My abstinence has definitely helped me to lose weight and get fit.  While I appreciate there is medical evidence that supports the fact that drinking some alcohol is better for you than drinking none, I still don’t feel like I’m quite ready for moderation… yet.  I’m still an “all or nothing” kind of guy, even in my new life.

20131016-161229.jpg

The destination for today’s ride… a chapel famed for its fertility assistance. Enter at your peril!

I’ve been cycling regularly since we’ve been in Rhodes.  There is a small group that gathers every morning for an organised Mountain Bike ride.  The typical ride tends to head into the mountains to visit places of “interest”.  We ride on a combination of road (tarmac) and off-road (dirt / rocks), and the terrain is generally flat with the occasional steep incline (tough on the way up, treacherous on the way down).  It’s a bit different to the road biking back home!

Depending on the difficulty and duration of the route, the main group may splinter, creating a break-away group as we look for some more continuous cycling.  Given it’s my main source of exercise each day, I’m keen to make the most of it so a longer, steady ride is just the ticket for me.  There have been a couple of really good sessions that have been physically challenging (mostly within the limits my Heart Monitor allows!) and enjoyable.

20131016-161555.jpg

Nothing fancy… just ice cold!

Refreshment is a key feature of these break-aways.  Identifying a target destination with an appropriate watering hole is an essential part of each ride.  For most of the party an ice cold beer is the beverage of choice.  For me, I’ve been adventurous enough to have a Fanta Limon.  I have to admit, the beers do look incredibly tempting.

I know there’s nothing really stopping me from having one (other than the distinct possibility that I wouldn’t be able to cycle any further!), but I really am trying to be good.  Yes, I may be being too hard on myself, but I’m determined to stick to the regime.

I will however set myself a goal… when I cross the line having completed my London – Amsterdam – Brussels cycle next May I will have a beer.  I will make sure it is ice cold, served in a glass straight from the freezer, and I will enjoy it.  A lot!