Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Age of Scandal with Cocchi Dopo Teatro

Today has been one of those perfect September days caught somewhere between summer and autumn where the light has a particularly clear quality, the sky is especially blue, and the sun shines benignly. It persuaded us to go to Stowe landscape gardens where we saw a lot of eighteenth century follies.

We've been meaning to look at Stowe for a while now, and as it's only about an hour away I'm not sure why it took so long - it's well worth going to see, and perfect if you have a dog judging by the number we met. It was also once the home of T. H. White, who was a master there (Mistress Masham's Repose' uses Stowe and its gardens as a background, it's the only one of his books I've actually finished). Surprisingly the gift shop didn't sell any of his books.

The trip reminded me that I've got a battered copy of T. H. White's 'The Age of Scandal'. Written in 1950 it's a set of essays about Georgian scandals, which has never made it to the top of the book pile, but which I always think will be fun to read, albeit as a curiosity. It also looks like just the book to match with Cocchi's Dopo Teatro, a Vermouth I bought days before the redundancy news came, and which I've been a bit unwilling to open ever since (I'm fighting a tendency to hoard at the moment, I do not need to save Vermouth for a rainy day. If things get bad I'll be much better off with a cup of tea),

Anyway, I have opened the Dopo Teatro, named after the tradition in Turin to drink it chilled and garnished with lemon zest after a visit to the theatre - or so it says on the back of the bottle. It sounds like a delightful practice, it is an excellent vermouth. Velvety spice with an extra edge of bitterness from a double rose of quinine, but still with enough sweetness to balance it. The recipe is apparently a 19th century one.

Because bitter isn't entirely my thing I garnished my glass with a wheel of blood orange - it is my new favourite drink. There's enough bitterness in it to be the perfect companion to White's slightly waspish look at the eighteenth century, the sweet orange feels like a nod that way too. I always think of vermouth as having a distinctly antique flavour (in a very good way), and this one is no exception, the extra bitterness also recalls a negroni (if you like them this would be an amazing vermouth to use)  but again, one that's palatable to those like me who find Campari to bitter to really enjoy.

It's also the perfect compliment to the season, cold enough to enjoy on a warm September afternoon, but all that velvety spice feels just right for the changing season, and to take me through the winter. This is probably the one vermouth I'd encourage anybody to track down and try. 

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