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

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Of Pinocchio, tomatoes & chestnuts

Right, before I bore you all to death on the story of my arm, It's now coming out Wednesday, the bit of bamboo that is. I had to sign more forms and undergo various tests. I don't know I reckon they fuss too much, all it needs is a sharp knife and a pair of tweezers. I'd do it myself, if I wasn't right handed and the bit of bamboo is imbedded in my right arm. My Dad quipped that I'm turning into Pinocchio, being only half boy, half wood.

Anyway, the weather has been a bit mixed, with a good sprinkling of badly needed rain and cooler temperatues. Our tomatoes are still producing, although not all of them are ripening completely.

I was going to make a green tomato chutney, but as I still have red tomatoes too, and I just saw a recipe on the Guardian web-site by Nigel Slater of a red and green tomato chutney(http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/04/nigel-slater-green-tomato-recipes), I made some of that. It turned out rather delicious!

Today then marked the beginning of a bit of an Indian summer. After I had already packed the shorts into the bottom drawer, we woke up to this beautiful autumn sunshine. The sun reflected so nicely of the sage leaves on our window sill that I just had to take a photo of it.

With this lovely weather, and one of my favourite seasons having started, the chestnut season, we decided to make our annual pilgrimmage to the Sagra della Castagna at Barbarasco. We had already roasted some of our own chestnuts earlier in the week. We simply had to try out the new fire grill that our friend John made us from the leftovers of some railings for their terrace in Calice al Cornoviglio. John is a bit of a dab hand when it comes to welding and our old grill had completely disintegrated.
Well John, if you are reading this, it held up beautifully, albeit bending slightly out of shape, by lifting one leg slightly. Maybe it thinks it's a dog... Unfortunately those first chestnuts were a bit dissapointing...

...which cannot be said about the chestnuts we had today: chestnut lassagne, chestnut pancakes and roast chestnuts, followed by chestnut and chocolate biscuits. To the foreigner, when you talk about lasagne, they tend to think of the dish Italians call lasagne al forno, layers of pasta sheets, meat and tomato sauce and bechamel sauce. To an Italian, the actual sheets of pasta are the lasagne, or lasagna in singular. The chestnut variety is made with chestnut flour and either simply served topped with olive oil and pecorino cheese or a meat sauce, never seeing an oven in the process.
Similarly the pancakes are made with chestnut flour, two of them are used to make a sandwich with a filling of either fresh ricotta or stracchino. In this dish the inherent sweetness of the chestnuts really comes through.
The older generation in Italy are said to not want to eat another chestnut in their life having lived on nothing else through the war years. Our friend Carlo tells us his story of remembering the war years as a 9 year old boy constantly turning the handle of an old coffee mill to grind down chestnuts into flour. Bread made exclusively from chestnut flour does not rise and is therefore a good test for your teeth.
The slightly bizarre thing at the sagra was the fact that it is set in a public park planted with hundreds of chestnut trees, so the ground was littered with them. Yet on a stand selling various chestnut related specialities, you could also buy fresh chestnuts for €3.50 per kg.

I don't know if the actually sold any...


Ayak said...

Hi...Thanks for visiting my blog which of course has enabled me to find yours. Another one I must add to my collection.
I'm so glad I clicked on this post as I lost my recipe for green tomato chutney and the one you quote looks like a good one.
I look forward to reading more of yor blog.
Best wishes

recipes for the life said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog.Its good to have new guests. Bangalore then and Bangalore are so different. Back then it was a quaint little town, very friendly with lots of gardens. Its no more so :(.

Your blog has a nice summery feel to it. Very nice.

Sorry to know about the amputation. I wish you good health.

♥ Chaitra