To all those who have asked about the Abruzzo earthquake, thankfully we were far enough away to not have been affected by it or even have noticed it. We don’t know anyone in the L’Aquila area either, but it does make you think, an event like this. You feel all snug and safe in your century old, solid stone building and there even historic churches fall over like card houses. To those of you who can afford it, do give to the various appeal funds to help the victims who are now staying in tents. We heard reports on the BBC channel that Silvio Berlusconi told those victims that they should see the fun side of it all and treat it as a “camping weekend”. Significantly this wasn’t reported by the Italian media and our neighbours were disgusted when we told them, quite rightly so!
Right, now that I have got rid of my two annoyances of the week, ‘what did we get up to over’ Easter, I hear you ask. The weather has been good despite forecasts to the contrary. Only today the Scirocco is blowing rain in our direction again. We planted out some more tomatoes and we’ve been harvesting our first broad beans, lettuces and radishes (the size of golf balls!). Just in time, before we start suffering from malnutrition.
Good Friday I made my traditional Swabian ‘Maultaschen’, a kind of German Ravioli stuffed with spinach (or Swiss chard in our case, can’t grow spinach to save my life in this climate) and minced meat served in a broth. The Swabians being a very religious, but also very cunning people, try their hardest to stick to lent and not eating meat during the run up to Easter. However by the Thursday before Easter (they call it Green Thursday for some reason) they get quite desperate. So they disguise the meat with the green of spinach and stuff it inside the pasta, in the hope that the Lord above doesn’t see them cheating.
On Saturday I still had so many Maultaschen left, that I took them across to our next door neighbours, Marco and Susannah, and we had them together with them, followed by a secondo of lamb chops. It was a lovely evening and with our and their food combined we had the best meal in a while.
Easter Sunday we went to a wine tasting in Montaretto near Bonassola. The title of the even was ‘Critical Wine – Terra e Libertà’. I wasn’t sue exactly what to expect, but with that title it was bound to have something to do with wine. We took a morning train to Bonassola, a pretty little Ligurian seaside resort on the other side of the Cinque Terre.
From there we could either take the shuttle bus, which winds itself 10km around bendy mountain roads to the village of Montaretto, or we could take the shortcut up a steep 3km footpath. It was a nice day so we opted for the latter. The views became more and more spectacular as we fast ascended above the sea. We heard Montaretto before we could see it. The whole village, a place about the size of our small village, was in party mood. On the outskirts an ad hoc campsite had sprung up on what normally served as the football pitch. A remarkable number of long-haired, flower-power hippy types seemed to be around for this 3-day festival. I was glad I hadn’t donned my business attire for the occasion, I would have looked a right fool.
Despite all that it was actually a serious wine event showcasing mostly organic wine producers and leftish-leaning co-operatives (sometimes combined). Most producers came from Liguria, Piemonte and Tuscany, but other regions were also represented. It was interesting to taste these wines. I must say though that many a small producer uses the tag organic as an excuse for dirty winemaking techniques. Quite a few had a tendency to be oxidised and just lacked definition. Others have produced good wines though, so I shall use some in upcoming tastings. As one of the suggested tastings I am offering is organic and biodynamic wines, as I do get asked a lot about the subject.
To name a couple of the highlights of wines you can also look up on the internet, there were Chianti Montalbano from Fattoria Castellina on www.fattoriacastellina.com, Candia dei Colli Apuani (Just down the road from us) Vermentino (tastes of Banana!) on www.viniapuani.it, Barbera Colli Tortonesi (Piemonte) from the Co-op Valli Unite www.valliunite.com (especcially their Vighét 2005, made from old vines) and a lovely Verdicchio di Castelli Jesi from La Marca di San Michele, www.lamarcadisanmichele.com. In addition to wines, there were offerings of beers, preserves, Sicilian bread, honey, organic beef, donkey salami, sheeps cheeses, etc.
Despite the fact that Susan in the end was a little unsteady on her legs we walked back down along a different, but no less scenic route again.
Maybe next year we’ll return to this event and join the tent colony, so we won’t have to wobble down the steep mountain after drinking large quantities…