Lunch with Sighvatur
I met an old oil industry friend of my Dad's for lunch.
"Red" is an Icelander living in Houston, but he was in town on business and got in touch - he, of course, also hopes to meet my Amma (grandmother) tomorrow.
Having just visited Iceland last week, he did a little research on my great-grandfather Olaf and said it was unusual that Olaf, being such a high profile individual, joined the British service and was killed in the war...something like that. Hopefully he won't be called away after all and we can meet up and learn more.
He knows all sorts of people, somehow. Like Roman Abramovitch (owner of Chelsea) in Alaska on his yacht, or tea at the Ritz this week with the Scottish Earl of I......... and the Indian businessman who has taken over the family's tea company.
The earl has a permanent table at the Ritz.
Red's longtime girlfriend is from the Orkneys. Funny how things go in circles - all these northern connections:
Iceland was settled after the 700s AD from the Orkneys --> Icelander Olaf working for Thomas Lipton (tea) --> Scottish earl in tea with another title in the Orkneys
He seemed to be going through his mental files for people I should meet, so we shall see.
After lunch I took Red to Sotheby's so he could ask about a painting his father had bought in the 1920s. It was nothing special yet.
The valuer took me by surprise by looking just like a German girl who used to live with us (not my au pair) - eyes close together, big lips, same facial structure. Only she is blonde and he is brunet. (Is brunet a word?)
Then I dropped him off and doubled back to the Handel House Museum. Not at all noteworthy although I am glad I went. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know, but had fun scaring the young American exchange student at the reception over her art history/philosophy degree.
From the museum, I went on to buy a desk tidy at John Lewis and saw all sorts of other pieces of furniture with which I could whip my room into shape. While I was there, I received a call from yet another agent who thinks my CV is perfect for Christie's and I should therefore call them directly.
Then I ran back home for the Wine Tasting Evening.
On the way up the street I saw landlady helping to set up the Killik's that had graciously loaned their office for the event.
Got home, and when I was halfway up the stairs, landlord's voice asked me, from behind the door where he was putting on his tie (there is no mistaking the sound of silk pulling through silk and starched collars) if I was going to the party. I thought, "How does he know it's me, he must be wearing his hearing aids for once."
I never put together an outfit in such a rush. Ten minutes: Black skirt, dark top softened by a flyaway piece, boots, and up the road I marched.
We tasted New World wines. A Pinot Gris from Argentina (ok) a Riesling from New Zealand (too fizzy). A California Zinfandel (perfectly light and floral, just like a bouquet of roses), and a really heavy Chilean red (Carmenere). It started like oak. To me the middle was like church incense (!) and the end was like 80% dark chocolate.
Interesting story about this Carmenere grape, though. For years the growers and the consumers believed it was a Merlot brought over by the European settlers. Along comes DNA testing to prove it is a completely different grape no longer found in the old country. The growers panicked and considered tearing out all the Carmenere vines to replant with Merlot. Duh.
Thankfully they reconsidered when they realised that everyone already enjoyed the Carmenere, so methinks changing the bottle labels was easier.
I stayed with the rose for the rest of the evening while we got fed with every canape under the sun. You name it, we had it. The tiny samosas, and tiny toad-in-the-holes with hot English mustard were best. I also enjoyed popping the caviar against my palate. (Don't ask me why people insist on calling lumpfish roe "caviar" just because they're at a party.)
I dared myself to go for a beef and horse radish thing which made me cry and had landlady's son J in stitches.
Oh, so finally I have had a conversation with him, two in fact. Usually we're like ships passing in the night. The quickest hello you can imagine, even when he arrived and landlady reintroduced him to me and Michael's assistant D, with whom I was chatting.
And yet one of the three times she invited me, she thought I would be good company for J. Tut.
So it must have been the wine because by the time we got to the dessert canapes, I'd moved from D to J, and we were having a giggle over the potency of the horse radish and how nasty our childhood snacks were, and we ended up having a good chat.
After I left, it was not long before landlord and J returned.
Landlord got a handful of wine glasses for the incoming after-party guests. J said, "More wine?" (Landlady had specified coffee but as she was wrapping up the event, while the cat's gone the mice will play.) Landlord looked at J like he'd said something ridiculous, and said, "Of course!"
J stayed in the kitchen where we tripped over each other making coffee and tea, respectively.