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, 23 July 2009

Of novel plants, wine tastings & Paganini

Ladies & Gentlemen, boys and girls, dear pets,
may I proudly present to you a world first: The Melumber! As you can see a cucumber and on the top of the plant and a little lower a baby melon. Must get that plant patented!
Joking aside, things on our land are doing extremely well. The weather during June and July has been almost perfect for farming: warm at times hot, with the odd sprinkling of rain inbetween, just enough, so that we did not have to water quite on a daily basis, but not enough to cause problems with rot. In addition here near the coast, we almost always have a pleasant cooling breeze.
As a result we are having bumper crops of tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, yesterday the first ripe melon, green beans, yellow peppers, aubergines etc. We have harvested the first crop of our 'two-season' fig tree and made something a little different with it this time, a fig salsa. I've got the recipe of the Italy Magazine Forum or rather community as they like to call themselves now, although modified it slightly. Goes well with meat. Here's the link to the recipe: http://www.italymag.co.uk/community/post/fig-salsa. Unfortunately the quantities are in American measurements, which I never quite understand.
I have also become quite innovative in the use of courgettes, being constantly on the look for recipes to work our way through tons of the stuff. Here's one for a courgettes soup:
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
a tbsp each of finely chopped fresh rosemary & sage
1kg courgettes
the corn of 2 sweetcorn cobs or 1 tin of sweetcorn
200ml cream
salt & pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and lightly saute the onion, garlic & herbs until soft.
  2. Add the courgettes and sweetcorn and heat through, then add 1 litre of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until well soft.
  3. Leave to cool for a bit and puree the mixture, or pass through a tomato mill or colander to remove the larger seeds and any possible stringy bits.
  4. Add the cream and reheat gently. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

On the wine tasting front there have been some developments too. I will now be working together with the Strada del Vino dei Colli di Candia e di Lunigiana. I know a bit of a mouthful. They are a group of wineries from the province of Massa-Carrara at the northern tip of Tuscany who have joined up into a wine route for tourists. They will help me find work and I will help them promote their wines. Their link is: http://www.stradadelvinoms.it/.

On Tuesday we had a kind of test event with the local wine club that I run. We visited the winery of Pier Paolo Lorieri (http://www.scurtarola.com/), the president of the Strada del Vino, for a wine tasting of some white wines of the region. His winery is beautifully situated above the town of Massa with sweeping views over the Versilia coast line.

The tasting really showed the variety of wines produced in this small region. Each wine was very different and individual. Apart from wines made entirely or predominantly from Vermentino, we tasted a rare example of a single varietal Albarola, which normally is a minor blending partner of Vermentino in this region as well as more famously in the Cinque Terre. We also tasted a wine made from a blend of the rare and unusual local varieties Durella and Luadga.
Anyone wanting to know more about the wine tastings I do please check out my web-site and pass it on to anyone who may be interested:

Other than that we had a couple more events in the village. On Monday night some 150 odd people from in and around the village went for a night walk to the nearby ruins of Castello della Brina. Little is known about this castle and excavations are ongoing. A professor from Pisa Universty gave a talk on it's history as far as it is known, which was fascinating. It now lies oddly isolated on the Via Francigena footpath towards Sarzana, but appears to have been a major settlement during it's heyday between the 8th to the 11th century. It was destroyed around 1300, and the attackers really seemed to bear a grudge, because they raised the place to the ground. In the absence of dynamite the knocked holes into the bases of the solid stone buildings and the lookout tower, stacked wood into them and set fire to it. The heat then produced cracks in the stonework, which then collapsed. This practise apparently was quite common in Britain, but is almost unique in continental Europe.

Anyway the reason for the walk was actually to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing and some anorak gave a very boring presentation on that subject. Is just me who is thoroughly bored by the subject? What's the point of going to the moon, if we've got so much to do on our own planet, saving it for a start!

Tuesday night there was a chamber music concert in the inner court of our house as part of a Paganini festival. A young violinist, Francesca Dego and a pianist, Francesca Leonardi, played works by Beethoven, Schubert and Paganini. The atmosphere as usual was magical, the performances were impressive and the acoustics in our court yard is great for this style of music.

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