Ex ex ex skip Wrighty reviews food and alcohol intake in Porto.
No match report has been filed to date, and memories are more unreliable than normal. Reconstructed scorecards are here
As the Ryan air pilot executed another semi controlled crash landing at Porto airport, the screams and sobs now barely audible, the Tigers gathered together their scattered personal belongings from under the seats and fellow passengers’ laps and huddled around the circulating carousel. Cricket bags collected and through customs unchallenged they were carolled into a fleet of waiting taxis by Captain Taylor and sped through the now familiar city to the electronic gates of the English Club.
Sun shining and the sweet scent of jasmine in the air, super bocks were ordered and the tour was now well under way. A relaxing afternoon was spent lounging by the pool, removing razor sharp grass shards from feet and counting the number of lime fizz ice lollies consumed by Chairman of the Anastasia Fan club and soon to be fully paid up social member of the Oporto Lawn tennis and Cricket club, Hillbilly Hill. A new record was in the offing but could he get to double figures by close of play?
Refreshed, all members reconvened at 8pm, super bocks and taxis were ordered and the entire party less Chris Folley departed en mass to the first Portuguese al fresco dining experience on the far side of town. Mr Folley stayed back at the club preferring the additional comfort and space of a private conveyance. He appeared with the battered sardines of the first course.
Slow cooked Beef cheeks and potatoes and a selection of Portuguese desserts ensued followed by a locally produced grappa like rocket fuel which propelled the group through the centre of Porto in a circuitous route and back to last year’s bar serving champagne/sangria cocktails. The night ended at different times for different Tigers in different states of disrepair.
A new day. A combination of bacon, eggs, toast, strong coffee and diving into the ice cold swimming pool cleared heads and set the scene. The sun blazed overhead, lotion was applied and the first ball bowled. Lunch was served in the rustic pavilion on the far side of the ground, a choice of mushroom quiche and/or chicken curry with Tiramisu and fruit to follow. Locally produced red and white wine flowed and bottles of chilled 10 year old Grahams Tawny Port circulated and were duly consumed. Cheeses were available. A fine Tea followed shortly after consisting of a selection of egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, some with cucumber (a welcome introduction in view of the heat) and afternoon tea served from a magnificent and ancient copper urn. Two enormous and quite stupendous cakes were then produced and word soon spread that the orange sponge turnover was not to be missed. Additional port was available and a number of Tigers drank deeply from the well. Following close of play, superblocks were served with lupin seeds on the club terrace.
There was a short slot when no food or drink was consumed and this window of opportunity was used to shower and dress for dinner. Super bocks and G&T’s were accompanied by miniature local appetisers on the terrace before sitting down to the formal evening dinner. No Tigers left the compound that evening.
Day 3. A hearty breakfast. Sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. Play started at 11.20am but was shortly interrupted by lunch, beef casserole, vegetables and/or salad. Red and white wine was served and following the selection of chilled watermelon and chocolate mousse, Port was again on offer with various cheeses. Play resumed for a short period before it was again interrupted by Tea. The sandwich selection was this time enlivened by the introduction of tuna, both on brown and white bread and the star of the day was undoubtedly the pineapple sponge, a mouth-watering concoction adorned with sprinkled chopped almonds. Following close of play, super bocks were served on the terrace. Lupin seeds were available.
Some concern was expressed at this late stage in the day as to the arrangements for dinner as nothing had yet been booked. Would restaurants be open on a Sunday evening and if so would they be willing and able to cater for a party of 12? Local residents and club members were consulted and an emergency working party of Tigers, club members, staff and local residents established. Shell shocked Tigers prowled about the terrace, consuming super bocks to console themselves. How had this situation come to pass? A 2 hour interval between meals was just about manageable but would they be able to cope with anything longer? Such was the level of concern and distress exhibited by the team that one local club member took matters in hand and personally accompanied the party thereby ensuring no gastronomic catastrophes resulted.
Dinner that evening was on the waterfront. A selection of octopus, fried and en vinaigrette preceded a variety of steak and fish dishes. Desserts were optional in view of the forthcoming Port tour and lunch arranged for the following day. Super bocks followed.
Day 4. Cereal, bacon, eggs and toast kicked the day off nicely and finished around 10am. The Port tour commenced at 11.20am and offered a selection of tasting options, 2 Ruby’s and 2 Tawny’s of ten and twenty year vintages. Having sampled the traditional ports, a white port and tonic aperitif slipped down before all 12 Tigers sat down to a bean salad seafood parcel, artisan bread and an exceptional and cooked rare, entrecote steak. This really was the food that Tigers like and although there was barely room for the custard sponge squares and orange sorbet dessert, they were duly dispatched. Graham’s Douro red wine accompanied the meal. Coffee was taken and the Tigers retired to the terrace and the best view of Porto the city had to offer.
A low rumbling sound could be heard but not a cloud in the sky was to be seen.