Friday 10 July 2009

Pop-up nozzle

For the purposes of this post you have to imagine a Good Day/Bad Day graph in which the horizontal axis is time as the day progressess while the vertical axis is the goodness (+ value) or badness (- value) quotient of any given moment of the day.

So, we set off for the shops today with - for the first time in my 46 years on this planet - "cruet set" on the shopping list. You know what I mean - one of these little sets with a bottle of oil and vinegar (really posh ones have salt and pepper pots as well) you see on every table of every restaurant in Continental Europe. We had finally decided that just having the bottle of olive oil and bottle (plastic) of vinegar on the table was not quite comme il faut (he says falling back on that small stock of bons mots with which it's so de rigueur to be au fait). Although I have to say that decision had been postponed for some months by the advent of the "pop-up nozzle" on bottles of Oliveira da Serra olive oil:-

The pop-up nozzle was a marketing coup. Saw it on an advert on the tellybox when we were down in the bar one afternoon. Overnight we were delivered from the bondage of our previous brand of olive oil with its conventional oil delivery mechanism which regularly involved skittering more oil around the place than the situation called for. Actually, things being what they are out on this island, bottles of OdS oil with pop-up nozzles (you can tell I just like saying that, can't you - "pop-up nozzle" - it's as satisfactory as saying "flash grill" or "Zinedine Zidane") took a few weeks to appear on the shelves from the appearance of the TV ads but that's the way it goes out here.

Anyway the novelty of the pop-up nozzle (there I go again!) had worn off so a cruet set it had to be. So, we're in the dimmer reaches of a shop in town. I must say I had something pretty plasticky looking around the 5-6 Euro mark in mind. Scanning the shelves (heaving with eveything from fish de-scalers to cooking pots the size of small gasometers) the eye eventually alights on a cruet set with one of its two bottles missing. And also bearing the alarmingly high price of €1,620! A moment's thought led to the conclusion that this was actually its price in the Portuguese pre-Euro currency, the escudo, showing that the thing had been languishing on the shelves for the thick end of eight years! The eye moves on to another cruet set - this one is plasticky in the extreme (the kitchen department of John Lewis this is NOT) and includes unwanted salt and pepper pots but is at least priced in Euros - 12 to be exact. Ouch! About to give up, when there appears, hiding at the back, a cruet set consisting merely of oil and vinegar bottles and also even manages not to look too tacky.

And the really good news is the price - €3.30! Remember the Good Day/Bad Day graph? Well, the discovery of something which is (a) better than I expected; and (b) cheaper than I expected, and the good day quotient surges skyward.

So we get home with our treasure and a general feeling of well-being and, on the way into the house, Carol checks the post box as she always does - a letter from the Portuguese tax authorities, the infamous DGCI which makes the UK's HMRC look positively benign by comparison. Do I not like getting letters from the DGCI - the graph dips a tad.

Anyway, up in the kitchen, the cruet set box is ripped open enthusiastically. Even that letter from the DGCI cannot dent the triumph of the functional yet tasteful cruet set for €3.30. But disappointment sets in when it becomes clear that the metal holder is actually too small for the bottles to be removed easily and doing so scratches a lot of the white paint off the bottles. Hmmmhh.

Good Day graph now flatlining - if this were Holby City or E.R., alarms would be going off and Art Malik/George Clooney would be calling for 20 mils of adrenaline and brandishing the mini travel irons and going "Clear!" (What is that all about by the way, because have you noticed they never are "Clear!", everyone's crowding around? And if it's so dangerous, why are they doing it to a patient? I digress.)

So this is as good a moment as any to open the letter from the DGCI. It's only got a cheque in it for a tax rebate in a four figure sum I hadn't been expecting! You can imagine that sent the graph soaring to stratospheric levels!

And as if all that wasn't good enough, one of our neighbours gave us a dozen fresh laid eggs. Friday 10th July 2009 will be a hard act to follow in the Good Day stakes. (I'll be able to repaint the cruet bottles if anyone's still wondering about that.)

PS - in the course of taking these cruet pics, I hadn't realised that Carol had, in the interim, actually filled them with oil and vinegar! So I inadvertantly created a salad dressing down the front of my trousers in the course of positioning them too photograph. (She also had the bad grace to remind me of the occasion when we were visiting a relative in hospital and I picked up a bed pan ... ) Still, such was the cruet/tax rebate bonhomie, nothing could spoil my day!


Kathie said...

Such an attractive cruet set at such a reasonable price must have seemed to good to be true -- now we know why, alas. Now that you've repainted it, can you just do without the holder?

Kathie said...

...or maybe fashion a non-abrasive holder out of other inexpensive materials (will post any ideas I come up with)?

Kathie said...

Re my first message today: should re "...too good to be true" -- ack, must remember to proofread my shorter posts! Sorry 'bout the multiple posts.

Also, can the holder be modified so the rings sit a bit lower? Or can some sort of material be attached to the holder where the cruets go, in order to elevate them slightly -- either way, so the fit's bit looser and abrasion thus doesn't occur? Or can the rings be coated with some sort of spray/paint-on material (a thin layer of something rubbery or silicone-y -- I don't even know if there's any such product, but bet there is). I sure wish my (Florentino-American) dad were still alive, because he was a whiz at fixing such things.

Suze said...

4 figures! Buy a new one and to hell with the expense. What a happy day.

Epicyclic said...

I have to agree with all, to set off in search of a needed object and actually find it on Flores is definitely + day indeed. Here's my fix for the cruet rack.

Modify rack as follows: Cut both rings (outboard) and expand the rings to the desired inside diameter. Cut the rings with a hacksaw or a sharp chisel. File the ends of the split rings to smooth any burrs. In all likelihood the wire rack is probably made of plated steel meaning the cut ends would eventually rust. Treat ends with readily available olive oil, lol.


Suze said...

Have been pondering this further. The cruet set is new and I suspect you will find that after a few weeks use the initial tightness will wear off. When that happens, but not until then, you can repaint the set, possibly even improving upon their original appearance. I would recommend chip resistant nail varnish, which is now widely available. If you use 2 different colours you will be able to tell at a glance which is oil and which vinegar, useful when the lettering wears off as it inevitably will. I would also recommend the use of masking tape around the vessel before painting in order to achieve a perfect straight edge. Hope this helps.

Mary said...

.....or maybe cut up your old pop-up nozzle bottle and affix the label to the new oil cruet bottle, thereby (a) covering the scraped bit; (b) identifying the contents; (c) recycling your kitchen waste; and (d)creating a unique centrepiece for your table.....