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

To book an informative and fun wine tasting whilst holidaying in Italy or arrange for a wild food walk in your area contact me on tuscanytipple at libero dot it or check out my Facebook page

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Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Calm After the Storm

Well the weather sure has been playing up again! Saturday turned out nice, which was just as well as we went to a Guy Faulkes celebration with a bunch of ex-pats further up in the Lunigiana. It’s funny the things you do when you move abroad. I’ve never attended a bonfire night in November when I lived in England; for a start I always have had sympathies for the anarchist burning down the Houses of Parliament. Well after all the rains we had had the bonfire never lit anyway, but we had some fireworks, mulled wine and bangers and mash and a jolly time was had by all. On the way there we stopped at Villa to check on the progress of the wine and cider. The cider has nearly finished fermenting and smells divine. Shame there’s going to be less than 15 litres by the time we’ll siphon it off it’s sedimets. Won’t last us long the way we drink…

Sunday afternoon the rains set in again and it soon developed into a downpour, which lasted all through Monday and Tuesday, culminating in an enormous thunderstorm Wednesday early morning. The photo was taken in the morning after the skies finally started clearing again. As usual after a storm our phone lines were down again and have only just now come back on. Luckily the power cuts only lasted a few minutes and water supplies remained uninterrupted this time. After having been stuck indoors for over 2 days, we were glad to get out again yesterday to check both in Arcola and Villa for any storm damage. Everything was fine albeit muddy.

All that rain and the still relatively mild temperatures meant that weeds are coming back in record time. My radicchio, Swiss chard, fennel, and cabbage that I sowed relatively late are all covered in weeds. We were going to attack them today as the weather looked fine this morning looking out of our window facing south. However as we arrived on the west facing side of the house we saw dark clouds brewing and even heard a few distant rumbles of thunder. We went to Arcola anyway, but, sod’s law, as soon as arrived there it started to drizzle. This is the trouble if you don’t live next to your land. It’s fine just nipping in and out of the house, but for us it’s a 10 km trek every time.

We picked a few more windfall olives though, as I put the first lot into jars. I followed another recipe out of ‘Liguria in arbanella’ (I shall add this book to the list at the bottom of this blog), Olive alla Taggiasca. Taggiasca is also the name of the best olive variety in Liguria, although ours are almost certainly Razzola. Taggiasca is a very small variety giving very delicate, fruity flavours, whilst Razzola is slightly bigger and a bit more spicy in flavour.

To preserve them for eating you immerse the olives in a brine of 1 tbsp of salt to 1 litre of water for 4 days, changing the brine daily. Then you make a brine with 150g salt to 1 litre of water, add a large sprig of rosemary, a bunch of thyme and 8-10 bay leaves and bring the lot to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes and leave to cool. Drain the olives and fill into jars, adding a small sprig each of rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf. Drain the herbs from the brine and top up the jars with the herb-infused brine. Seal and wait for some 40 days to 2 months.

Finally, I (or rather this blog) have had a mention on the forum of Italy magazine (http://www.italymag.co.uk/forums/) in the last couple of days and visitor numbers have jumped up all of a sudden during the couple of days I couldn’t even get on the net. So thank you to the person concerned based in the Marche I believe and welcome to any new readers. I shall add the link to the forum to my other links on the side. It’s a useful forum for anyone interested in all things Italian.

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