Tag Archives: Simple Minds

Food ‘n’ Trams ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll

On Friday 20th November, Charlie and I travelled to Milan. The excuse for going (if one can be said to need an excuse for a trip to Italy) was to see Simple Minds, but I confess I was looking forward to the food as well. In this I was not disappointed.

Here is Charlie, about to consume (second) breakfast in a wonderful pasticceria.

Charlie in Sugar
Charlie in Sugar

I think actually we were very restrained as you will see from this picture of a small selection of the cakes in the window. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo due to reflection from the glass.

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As we were sitting, trams were rumbling past. The network seemed to be very extensive and there was an astonishing array of different types. With my father in mind, I thought I ought to photograph one or two, though I fear he might be disappointed in me for not being more selective in my choices.

This seemed to be the standard livery on these old trams.
This seemed to be the standard livery on these old trams.
But this one was definitely more festive.
But this one was definitely more festive.

We did pass the odd bit of culture in our extensive three day walking tour of the city. This is Castello Sforzesco:

Castello Storfesco
Castello Storfesco

And this is the Cathedral:

Duomo di Milano
Duomo di Milano

But then it was back to the food. To whet the apetite, an Aperol Spritz is invaluable. This rather fine restaurant was the Ristorante Valentino Legend:

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The food was fantastic. Obviously photographs can never do justice to the full experience, but the meal really did taste as good as it looks.

Unfortunately I can't find this in the online restaurant menu, but it was one of the most incredible dishes I have tasted. It was a light pastry tart filled with asparagus with the most wonderfully savoury cheese sauce. There were also truffles included, though whether those were in the tart or the sauce, I'm not certain.
Unfortunately I can’t find this in the online restaurant menu, but it was one of the most incredible dishes I have tasted. It was a light pastry tart filled with asparagus with the most wonderfully savoury cheese sauce. There were also truffles included, though whether those were in the tart or the sauce, I’m not certain.
Sea Bass Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto of Capers
Sea Bass Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto of Capers
Scallops au gratin with Butter Lobster on a bed of creamed sweet Peas
Scallops au gratin with Butter Lobster on a bed of creamed sweet Peas
Prawns wrapped in Toscan Bacon and au gratin with cream of white Beans. Technically this was Charlie's, but we shared everything.
Prawns wrapped in Toscan Bacon and au gratin with cream of white Beans. Technically this was Charlie’s, but we shared everything.
Trilogia di lamponi
Trilogia di lamponi

All this food was consumed on Saturday before the main event, which was of course, the concert. Despite some reluctance on Charlie’s part, we managed to get a place very close to the stage. As anyone who reads this blog religiously will know, we have been to see the band a few times before, but they never disappoint and this was no exception. Jim Kerr seemed to be particularly enjoying himself. The only sad part was that he was conversing with the audience most of the time in Italian, so I had no idea what he was saying, but the audience roared their appreciation all around us.

Jim Kerr, still frisky...
Jim Kerr, still frisky…

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Charlie Burchill was right in front of us for most of the concert.
Charlie Burchill was right in front of us for most of the concert.

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I don’t have as many good photos as I have had for the previous two concerts. Not so long ago, Jim Kerr expressed his frustration that too much of the time he found himself staring into a row of phones so I was aware of that, as well as wanting to be in the moment when we had invested the effort to get so close to the stage. Charlie tells me that during Let There Be Love, Jim Kerr pointed to us and mouthed “You Two.” So now our twenty year love affair has been officially stamped with Kerr approval. Well, I’m looking forward to the next twenty years and I hope for many more weekends as wonderful as this one. Simple Minded ratification notwithstanding, I have published the few decent photos I have on a separate page for those who are sad interested.

The weekend did not end there. Sunday remained and we awoke to find the mist had lifted and the sky was blue. So did we spend this time enjoying the wonderful sights of Milan? No, we went out to eat, this time at Spoon. We arrived at about two and were presented with a Sunday Brunch menu. Initially, we were told the a la carte menu was not available, but after a quick word with the chef, our waitress returned with the real deal.

Crispy scallops with beetroot mayonnaise
Crispy scallops with beetroot mayonnaise
Tortellone with ricotta cheese and anchovies
Tortellone with ricotta cheese and anchovies
Apologies to the chef for not showing the original presentation, but for me, this was a perfectly cooked steak
Apologies to the chef for not showing the original presentation, but for me, this was a perfectly cooked steak

Our profound enthusiasm was not lost on the waiting staff. To our surprise, instead of offering us the dessert menu, they arrived with spoons and a moment later, announced that they were giving us a selection of desserts “on the house”.

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By the time we were finished, the sun had gone down. We spent a while looking round the centre. As those of you who know me well will know, this is about as near as I ever get to high fashion.

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Perhaps feeling that we had not spent enough time exploring Milan, Charlie felt that as a fitting end to our weekend we should pay a visit to the Navigli district, a beautiful area of the city built around canals. Following the GPS co-ordinates on Trip-Advisor, we took a tram and then a bus and alighted in an area that, to our surprise, appeared more Vauxhall than Venice. We walked a few minutes, passing shops with the lovely descriptive name “Sexy Shop”. This didn’t seem as tempting as the bohemian restaurants that Trip Advisor promised. Still, Charlie checked his map again and confirmed there was a canal nearby. So we walked some more (we averaged 20,000 steps per day… we needed to do something to work off all that deliciousness) and when we finally found it in the darkness…

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…there was no water.

Retreating to a down-at-heel coffee shop, where a man was pounding a slot machine with the dedicated intensity of the addict, Charlie, following a long session peering into his phone announced that yes, the person who had added the Navigli District to Trip Advisor had put in the wrong co-ordinates. Undaunted by our trawl through the red light district, we made our way to Central station and hopped on the Metro. By the time we found our way to the real canal, Charlie was hungry again and as we had not, as yet, had a pizza, we finished our weekend in style in a tiny pizza restaurant: I Segreti di Pulcinella.

Wood pizza oven
Wood pizza oven

All good things must come to an end and it was sad to wake up on Monday morning knowing that the weekend was over. Still, the wonderful staff in the Lancaster Hotel wished us well. And maybe one day, we will return.

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Bergen Weekend in Pictures

Sorry I haven’t updated Always Vet in Norway this weekend. Charlie and I have been on a roadtrip to Bergen to watch James and Simple Minds at the Bergen Festival. Both bands were fantastic; both played a lot of new music. We stayed in a great hotel and found some wonderful restaurants. Saturday was our 18th Wedding anniversary so this was our present to ourselves.

First then some views from the Park Hotel. Charlie had asked for a room on the top floor and so there were a lot of stairs to climb, but it was worth it for the airiness and the clear skies above the beautiful city.

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Once we had settled in, we set off for the festival. James were playing first. I only took a few photographs but they played a great set. I do have an apology for Jan-Arne… going by Tim Booth’s outfit it seems that pyjama trousers really are in!

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And I must apologise for the blurriness of this final image, but Mr Booth must be the craziest dancer I have ever seen.

Later in the evening, as dusk gradually fell, we watched Simple Minds – Charlie’s favourite band. I will just put in a few photos here. For those who would like to see a full set of images, click here.
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Jim Kerr
Jim Kerr
Charlie Burchill
Charlie Burchill
Mel Gaynor
Mel Gaynor
Andy Gillespie
Andy Gillespie
Ged Grimes
Ged Grimes

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After the concert, it was time to go back to the hotel. 1.30am and the sun was setting…

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Next morning dawned another bright day so after breakfast and coffee, we headed off to Fløyen funicular railway. When we arrived at the bottom, we were fortunate enough to get to the front of the queue, so we had some fantastic views on the way up.

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Then we emerged to wonderful views of the city.

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Back down again, and we found a street that looked more Scandinavian than Central European…

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And a delicious burger.

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An old fire-station (which I had photographed earlier) was disgorging some amazing old fire-engines.

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Finally as we made our way back to the bus station, we discovered there was a Thai festival taking place.

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All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.