Friday, April 30, 2010

Market Day

Friday is market day in Trevi so we wandered in this morning had a cafe macchiato and a pastry while glancing over the headlines in the newspapers.

We normally buy all our fruit and vegetables in the market as well fish from the fish man Gabrielle. He wasn't there today, which threw a spanner in the works as we had planned on having a fish stew type thing for dinner. I have just returned from the supermarket which does have a good wet fish counter so will still be able to enjoy a fish stew.

Recipe (for 2) - if you can call it that.

Fry an onion together with some celery and garlic and until they are soft. Then add a tin of tomatoes or better still a bottle/tin of tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper and then leave on a gentle heat until it is a thick and tasty sauce. I then like to wizz it is a food processor so the sauce doesn't have any bits in - it's smooth in fact.

At this point you add your fish and cook until done. What fish? Really whatever you want but we have prawns, octopus, mussels, clams and occasionally a little fillet of fish such as cod, eel or salmon. Job done. Enjoy with some bread so you can pick up every last drop of fishy tomato sauce.

Unfortunately Barca didn't beat Inter so my hopes now rest on Van Gaal and Bayern Munich in the final.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


our new baby - the 250ml tin of CM extra virgin olive oil. Isn't she cute - we think so anyway. We think that this is a great size, especially with tourists in mind, as many airlines now have very small luggage allowances and so it is difficult for them to buy a nice bottle of oil when it weighs close on a kilo.

This tin instead can be tucked in your suitcase without causing you any over limit luggage payments.

Also, it is a great way to taste our oil without having to commit to a larger quantity and a larger outlay. It only costs £3.99/€4.50 so it probably won't break your recession hit bank account.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In the garden

Hottest day of the year so far and so good to be out in the garden.

Spent the day doing some long overdue weeding of the borders and planting some things that we had bought but which had then spent weeks languishing in their pots just outside the door as we hadn't decided where they were to go, as they were bought on impulse.

So today we finally planted the silver conifer and the pampas grass. No photos today as we haven't finished the weeding yet.

Also tried to plant out some of plants we have grown from cuttings. Tend to take loads of cuttings especially of the margherita's as they do not survive the winter here. We like the connection and the white flowered variety of said.

Big game tonight as Inter Milan play Barcelona. Hopefully Barca can overturn the 2 goal deficit from the 1st leg.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ape

The Ape is the name given to a three wheeled 'machine' that is very common in Italy - see photo for an example. Is it a car, motocycle, small truck?

The name means 'Bee' as they sound not unlike one in the same way that the Vespa, a make of scooter means 'wasp'as they sound like one.

The Ape use very small motorcycle engines so are very cheap to run and like many Italian designed cars ideally suited to the small streets of most Italian villages and towns.

We came across this example today. You would tend to associate them with old olive farmers but this one, with its M.A.S.H. type decal must be owned by an local individualistic yute. good for him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pic & Nic Update

After two days of Pic & Nic we are a little tired, so today has been a bit of a slow day.

The Saturday of Pic & Nic was slightly blighted by the weather which was very overcast early on but did clear in the afternoon. The central Piazza of Trevi was where the farmers market was held and where the 7 local olive oil producers took a stand.

Considering the weather there was a good crowd and a good number of tourists.

The second day on Sunday (see photo) was altogether different. The weather was perfect and by 11.00 Trevi was absolutley humming with people sampling bits and pieces in the farmers market or wondering though the antique and collectables market in the piazza next door hunting for a bargain.

The team in the Trevi tourist office had done a great job as there were people up from Rome and quite a few antipodeans. I had to pop back to the house in the early afternoon to walk Winnie (see earlier blog) and the roads leading into Trevi were jammed with cars parked on the side of the road. It was great to see Trevi so busy.

We sold olive oil which was great but also caught up with friends and neighbours and had the chance to introduce ourselves and our oil to lots of other people so a great weekend all round.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Liberation Day

This Sunday is liberation day when the allies liberated Italy from the Axis forces in April 1945.

Considerable numbers of towns and villages will be holding some form of event/festa this weekend and Trevi, our local town is no different. It is holding Pic & Nic which I have written about earlier. Full details of the event are availabale at

The weather forecast is variable with tomorrow having a risk of showers and then Sunday being forecast to be Sunday. Hopefully we will be able sell some of our olive oil in the market over the next 2 days. We are going to showcase our new small tin of olive oil - only 250ml and only €3.50.

Really as an excuse to put another picture up when we have fog as we have had today it sometimes stalls in the valley below us so at the house it feels as though you are flying and the clouds are below you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring time

The weather has been lovely today with the temperature around 24 degrees. Overall the weather has been quite variable with substantial amounts of rain especially compared to recent years. Everyone now is looking forward to the long sunny days of summer.

All the veg patches have been dug/rotovated and are awaiting planting, all wood cutting and collecting needs to be finished by the end of the month. All the garden centres are full of colour and everyone is giving their garden the once over.

We have been asked to help plan and execute one of our neighbours gardens so will let you know how that goes. She came by today to collect some plants from us and we grow a lot from cuttings and have too many for our own us.

We bought a lovely silver grey conifer about 2 metres tall the other week to contrast and compliment our Tuscan cypresses. As I write it is still languishing on the lawn next to where it is to be planted. It really must go in the ground soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


We have two animals here at Casa Margherita although I think that they would rank themselves above animal status in the house - more like owner occupiers.

We have Louie, a 15 year old persian look-a-like but in fact just a basic moggy. Getting on a bit - eyesight not as good as it was. In fact most of the senses are slightly duller than they were. But he is still Mr Lou, as he is known affectionately.

We also have Winnie our West Highland West Terrior. She is rather younger at 7 years and is generally full of life and has yet to turn into a matron as our vet warned that she might.

They are great to have around and love life here at CM in the olive grove.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Old Olive Trees

We are very fortunate here at Casa Margherita to have a small number of very, very old olive trees. We do not exactly how old they are but they are many many hundreds of years old. There is here a picture of one of them which has just been pruned so maybe looks a bit threadbare but is still a magnificent specimen. The circumference of the trunk is 4 metres!

On the other side of Trevi from us in Bovara is an olive tree known as St Emiliano's olive tree. St Emiliano is the patron of our local town, Trevi, and is is reputedly against this tree that he was killed by the Romans and on dying bled milk for the people. Thats what they say. This tree has been dated as being over 1,700 years old. Incredible.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who is Margherita?

Our Margherita is not the Queen of Italy during the reign of her husband King Umberto 1 and has nothing to do with the pizza margherita which co-incidently was created in 1899 for the Queen Margherita.

No, our Margherita lived in our house in the early years of the 20th century. She was a shepherdess and made ricotta which she sold locally. She was also the local wet nurse and took in children from the valley below who suffered from respiratory problems as the air here is cleaner and fresher. For these reasons our house in known locally, more especially by the older inhabitants, as the house of Margherita or Casa Margherita. For this reason our olive oil business is named Casa Margherita.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scuderia Ferrari - Shanghai

Liked Alonso's move on Massa cheeky but cool and legal. Without the drive through penalty then maybe A would have been on the podium.

Andiamo avanti a Barcelona.

L'orto - the vegetable garden

Spent a few hours tidying things up in the orto in preparation for planting in the next couple of weeks. We don't have too much in at the moment - garlic which this year is doing well as well as some lettuce and onions.

The next couple of weeks will see the major planting of tomatoes of which we will plant around 50 plants of various types - cherry, San Marzano, bue di cuore, datterini and any other that takes our fancy. We freeze quite of lot of the crop either whole or pre-cooked into tomato ragu. The taste is just so much better that any tin or bottled tomato.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where is Casa Margherita?

Casa Margherita is in Umbria, Italy the central land locked region of Italy famous for its olive oil.

Our house and the connected olive grove lie on the Colli Assisi-Spoleto at an altitude of 465 metres above sea level with a SW facing aspect. This later fact mean that our olives (and ourselves) are exposed to the sun for longest possible time during the summer months. During these months the sun rises around 7.00 and sets around 9.00pm.

The exact position of Casa Margherita is 42∘54' 07.32" N 12∘45' 13.30" E - for those of you with access to some earth mapping software will be able the see the actual house (Casa M) and everything in fact.

Tra poco...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pruning Olives

One of the by products of pruning olive is all the olives clippings. There are various solutions used for them in our area.

One of them is to burn them which is very easy and still quite widely used. Another is to tractor them with a mowing attachment and they will rot down in situ. The option we use here at Casa Margherita is to shred them with an agricultural shredder. We then leave them rot down for a couple of months and then use them in the garden and around our other fruit trees as a type of mulch. This helps reduce water loss from the soil during the hot summer months and reduces weed problems. Here is a picture of the machine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pic & Nic

The weekend of 24/25 April in our local town of Trevi is festa time and for the 3rd year now is holding Pic & Nic. The event is a celebration of spring and has a base of olives and olive oil to it.

There are numerous events and activities running over the 2 days including walking and picnicing amongst the olives, horse trekking among the olive groves. In the centre of Trevi, Villa Fabri is given over to the tasting of olive oil from seven of the areas local producers including ourselves, Casa Margherita.

In Piazza Mancini there will be a farmers market on both days where the public can taste and buy olive oil from the producers as well as a wide range of other local produce.

The previous two years of the event have been unlucky with the weather but we hope this year it will be nice and sunny.

All details of the event are available at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Infused oil

Today we have prepared 3 sets of infused olive oil for our clients who have adopted an olive tree from us. We have prepared lemon, thyme and chilli infused which we will be sending out in June/July in time for those summer bbq's.

If you would like to find out more about adopting a tree then go to

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Los Angeles Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

Just back back from Perugia where a dropped off 3 bottles of our extra virgin olive oil with a courier for despatch to the USA as our entry in the Los Angeles Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition. The competition takes places on the 18-20 May. This is the first time we have entered the competition. We will let you know in due course how we got on.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The pruning continues but as we prune the groves are being scoured by people picking wild asparagus. The year it is bountiful so there are quite a few people out picking.

The asparagus grows around the base of the olives and unless picked will grow and turn into a unpleasant prickly weed so the pickers do the grove owners a great service.

The asparagus is eaten in a number of ways but the two most popular in these parts are in a frittata or in a ragu with pasta.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pruning time

Casa Margherita is a 2 hectare olive grove in the hills of Umbria with some 500 olive trees. We are in full pruning mode at the moment and we work with our neighbour Alveiro, who has an amazing amount of experience with olive cultivation and all things olive to help prune our trees.

The essential equipment for pruning is a pair of pruning scissors fitted onto a 2 metre pole - trade name Fiskars. They are a great invention - simple but have an enormous impact. Before pruning would have taken longer and involved dragging a ladder around the hillside so as to reach those higher branches. Now with your Fislars everything is within reach and so the pruning is quicker and less tiring - fatiga meno - as they say here.

We start again tomorrow so watch out for more..