orWine Tastings in the Comfort of you own villa or B&B while on holiday in Tuscany or Liguria

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Friday, 11 January 2008

Country Living

I’ve had complaints for not updating you lot regularly enough, so here comes what’s been happening the last few days. The weather has been misbehaving, never doing what the forecast promised. Sunshine is always supposed to arrive day after tomorrow, which keeps getting pushed forward another day. The first of January was glorious as was the 8th new moon. In between it’s been more or less rainy although getting a bit warmer again. No sign of frost or snow.

Roughly speaking, according to the Demeter calendar, you do things like digging over the beds and pruning during the period of the waning moon, whilst a lot of the sowing is done on the waxing moon. So on the nice day we pruned some more olives as well as doing some major earth shifting work. There was a large hump on one of our terraces, which we leveled. This involved shifting about 2 tons of soil and digging through the bamboo roots. After a week of near inactivity that really went into our bones! Just as well it was raining again the next day so we could recover!

On the days when there was only a light drizzle we did a bit of light tidying up and collecting wood. Wednesday we went to Villa and noticed that the various wild roses were heavy with bright red rosehips. So I thought we’ll try something that I did not think I’d do again here in Italy: make country wine. So yesterday we went out for a long walk in the drizzle to collect some more and go general wild food foraging. We walked all the way to Arcola, where we picked some rosehips on our land as well as the last of the Kohlrabi and a kaki (had another idea for a use of kaki as an ingredient in sweet and sour pork; worked really well). On the way there and back we found some more rosehips and some wild beet and a few herbs (salad burnet, rosemary, oregano, wild fennel to dry and make herbal salt with) and a turnip.

Now we’ve got a rosehip wine on the go, I’ll let you what it’ll be like. Talking about alcohol, we’ve been abstaining recently after the usual over-indulgence over Christmas. We haven’t had the shakes yet nor have been getting ratty with each other, so we are doing ok. Today the rain has been coming down in sheets. We had also picked up some more willow from Villa the other day and our old plastic wood-basket is slowly falling to bits. It’s only just still holding on, because I’ve fixed it with willow, so I thought I use my newly acquired skill and produce a big basket this time. As usual in times like this I turned the kitchen blue with my swearing, but it’s taking shape. Ran out of material though and I’m going to have to work out how to make a handle. Susan in the meantime was complaining that the Christmas biscuits had all run out and we had nothing to go with the tea. So me, twisting a particularly stubborn twig, snapped back: “you do it!”. So she did. Made some particularly nice Pantucci. Our Swiss friend Irene, who was over last week gave us a few left-over bags of nuts and almonds she didn’t use in her Christmas baking (it’s one of the few things cheaper in Switzerland then here), so why not indulge in some more January biscuits.

Oh and one other thing to report is we went to see some friends in the valley, Pino, Cristina and their little daughter Caterina. Pino and Cristina are always the main act every summer at the medieval re-enactment in Santo Stefano. They play the king and queen of France and get the best seat at the banquet. They come striding in on his horse. They said any time we wanted we could have as much horse shit as we could carry, so that’s useful. I’m waiting for few dry days though, so it’s not too messy.

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