The cork pings up to the ceiling like a bullet and those of us around the table cheer. This bottle - cuvee brut - is the Italian version of champagne, a light and fruity sparkling wine that's a few notches up from prosecco. In the two days that I've been eating in and around Rimini every meal apart from breakfast starts like this.
Thus the menu at The Crown when Aldo came to cook this week reflected the dishes of his childhood. The local sparkie, tyre-man, the farmers, a smattering of music producers (they get everywhere these days) and an excitable crowd of yummy mummies ate five courses, churned out by an increasingly sweaty Zilli, working at the pass with the very gifted pub chef, Felan Hennigan.
Last month, my other half Steve and I travelled to The Cotswolds for a few days to celebrate Steve's birthday. We got the train after work on a Wednesday night and arrived into Kingham just before 8pm, then it was a short 15 minute taxi ride to The Wheatsheaf, which is situated in the small market town of Northleach.
I thought the sauce looked suspiciously glutenous so I asked him to check again with the chef. He returned and asked, "How allergic ARE you?" I looked at him and declared, a little poker faced white lie, "I will start vomiting profusely in the middle of your restaurant" at which point he admitted, "Yes, it's got flour in it". Sometimes you have to push to get the answers you need.