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

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Saturday, 25 October 2008

Of Saint Happy, Mushrooms and Frank meeting Franco

Just a little update on what’s been happening the last week and a bit or so. The weather has been a bit of a mixed bag and never as predicted by the weather forecasters, which makes planning the next day very difficult. One day you decide to get up early to get some work done, because the weather is supposed to be dry and you wake up to pouring rain. Next day you have a lie-in, because they promise you rain and the sun is out. Well at least last Sunday was a beautifully sunny and warm day as it was the ‘Fiera di San Felice’, the Saint Happy Fair at Santo Stefano. Saint Happy, or St Felix I suppose, is the patron saint of Santo Stefano (and not St Stephen as one would suspect…), and every 3rd Sunday in October this gives cause to celebration with a huge sprawling market through the streets of the town, selling everything from porchetta (Tuscan roast pork) to kitchen utensils to porchetta to live chickens and cattle to porchetta to tractors to porchetta to clothing etc. You get the drift. Porchetta is an essential part of any festa in these parts. On the photo you get a bit of a flavour of the event.

On the land, we finished the autumn clean-up in Arcola and started it in Villa. In Villa we also chopped down an old, diseased apple tree for fire wood. The wine had started fermenting with a bit of delay and therefore got slightly oxidized. So unfortunately it’s going to have rather too much volatile acidity (it’ll taste a bit vinegary in lay-speak), but should still just about be alright. The cider on the other hand smells divine, bubbling away in it’s demijohn.

One day we were both off sick after consuming some wild mushrooms, so for the time being I am banned by Susan to pick any more. They were of a variety that we had picked in previous years on our land and never had any problems with. In fact we had eaten the first ones on Saturday, but with a large armful of what I identified as Chanterelles from Villa (see photo above). The mushrooms in Arcola I had identified as Sheathed Woodtufts, which are described as good and edible. By Tuesday there were so many growing on our land, that I just couldn’t resist and fried some with the steak we were having that evening. I spent most that night on the toilet, whilst with Susan the effect arrived during the next day. Still, they tasted good… Either it was because of the much greater quantity consumed compared to the previous occasion, or that I did not cook them for as long as before. Saturday we stewed them in some milk and cream for a good while as a pasta sauce. Whichever way, it put us both off wild mushrooms for a wee while. We’re alive to tell the tale!

Frank our motozappa (plough) in the meantime had to go and meet Franco, the local ‘bicycle-and-small-machinery-repair-man’. The drive belt had apparently come off and needed to be tightened. For a good 45 minutes work Franco charged us all of €8. I know craftsmen in the UK don’t even get out of bed for that amount! So yesterday he (Frank that is) was put back into action to plough over a terrace in Arcola. Susan in the meantime gave the hornets in the hollow cherry tree their final eviction notice. Today we dug over the bed behind the former hornet’s nest and sowed some more peas. I know it’s not the right moon phase, but the soil is nicely wet now and I didn’t want to leave this job too long.

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