Thursday, September 30, 2010


I had always thought that snails were a French delicacy but here in Umbria they are very popular. Actually this is just part of the cucina povera on which nearly all Italian food is built. What you have you eat is basically the gist of it.

We have entered winter snail season which means you can just cook them and eat them rather than in summer when you need to purge them by keeping them without food for a number of days. There is no need to do this now as they are not eating.

Our friends at Vincanta are doing yummy things with snails for all of October so there we will go.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dropping off.

This is Louie, our cat. In fact he is much more than a cat but that is another story.

He is an old boy having reached eighteen and is pretty deaf and a bit blind but boy can he sleep and eat. At times sleep becomes a matter of urgency and you just have to let go........

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olive oil source

Every olive oil producer naturally thinks their oil is the best and the way they prune, harvest the olives, bottle etc etc is the best way. I am naturally no different.

So it is sometime difficult to find a source of unbiased information. This website, whilst it does have a slight American bias, is very informative as well as being a very well put together.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The olives are now starting to ripen. The green olives lose their glossy green colour and turn matt and then take on this plummy colour which will deepen until it is very nearly black. So we may well be on course to start picking in the middle of October which for us here at is perfect as we have our local olio nuovo festival over the all saints weekend of 30/31/1 November.

Friday, September 24, 2010

La Vendemmia

The grape harvest has just started which is another indication that we are passing into autumn. The clocks will shortly go back and then by middle December all the harvesting will be completed and we will be able to put our feet up and mull over the year. How good the crop was and the quality of it and what we would like to do next year to improve it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sid 2

I was fumbling around in the shed today (is that a euphemism? no) for a paint brush and there behind the basket I was searching in was a snake - it looked very like a viper to me and was sticking its tongue in and out.  I beat a retreat.

Apparently, according to our vet, the only way to definitively tell whether a snake is a viper or not is that vipers have vertical pupils whereas other snakes have horizontal. Not a test I fancy carrying out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Passed passata

Today was yet more passata making. I think I have done around 50/60 jars so far so the end will be a welcome sight. To be fair the plants are almost done with only a few more tomatoes left to ripen.

Went to collect some product photography of our bottle, a tin and the introduction pack for our adopt a olive tree scheme so as to do some publicity for olio nuovo and Christmas. Check out the adopt a tree scheme at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ottobre Trevana

This festival in Trevi runs from the 25th September to the 24 October and one of the many events but obviously one of the highlights will be the first ever exhibition by Rachel Williams. This is already very exciting and nerve-wracking for said RW but I am sure it will be a great success.

For a full list of events try this link:-

My other must go is the metre and a half of Nutella!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Red or white.

Popped over to Montefalco today for their wine festival. Montefalco is renown for red wines based on the sagrantino grape. These are big wines with an abv varying from 13 to 15%.

Luckily the Italians never ever drink without having a little something to eat so we had a nice Sunday afternoon tasting wines and nibbling on various snacks.

Rachel picked up a nice white called "Pecorino" and even that is 14%. Otherwise the local whites based on the grechetto or the trebbiano grape are generally to our minds poor.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Cycling is hugely popular here in Italy and most weekends you can see the groups of cyclists, or peloton, cruising along the main roads of Italy.

Among them there are a disconcertingly large number of middle aged and overweight riders risking a heart attack. This has given rise to the acronym Mamil - middle aged men in lycra!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This tree is laden with fruit and the branches are bending over with the weight. A good sight for an olive grower. When the fruit is picked then the branches will snap back up into the vertical.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The barber

Yes it was time this agricoltore had his locks chopped and so it was to Trevi I went. As with all barbers there was some good gossip to be had.

When I dropped the lead-in of "I hear the newly crowned Miss Italia is local girl" little did I expect what was to follow.

The new Miss Italy is not only Umbrian but from San' Eraclio, a place that makes Trevi (pop 6,000) seem big.  And not only this but that San' Eraclio can boast of not one Miss Italia but 3.

What are the chances of that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Optimo lavoro

Great race with Alonso fully deserving to win. What a great pit stop.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


As well as making yet more passata I bought some of these gems from the market on Friday. I have pickled them with vinegar and after a few weeks they will be just great with a bit of porchetta or any other pork product in fact.

Rachel also stuffs them with potato, anchovies and sage and then bakes them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Yum.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rough as an old boar

Rachel was  approached back in July by a New Jersey amateur wine maker who wanted to use her print on a Chingiale on the label of the wine he was making this year. Rachel agreed that he could the only payment being a bottle of said wine.

This duly arrived yesterday and looked great with said label. The wine is Chianti in style so we will leave it recover and settle and then find the appropriate occasion to try it.

Started me thinking about some Casa Margherita wine.......

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back home

This chap spent the night with us again and come with us for a walk this morning much to the annoyance of Winnie our Westie. She was most put out that we were sharing our affections with another dog.

Then is was down to Paola the vet to see if the dog was chipped. Amazingly he was. It is not very common here in Umbria so we were a little surprised. And the owner was Luca who runs the horticultural supplies shop that we use. So we drove round and returned him back to Luca. Quite a lucky dog methinks.

And all back to normal now for Winnie.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Abandoned until now.......?

This young dog has been around and about for a couple of weeks with one of our neighbours feeding him but yesterday evening he came down to our house and wasn't put off by our Westie Winnie. So we naturally fed him and gave him water and he stayed around and about last night and has been an ever present today with Rachel.

We are going to take him to the vet's tomorrow to see if he is chipped and then............................

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hissing Sid and Mrs Jerry

Our boiler in winter runs of wood pellets and it is time for us to get our winter's supply in. This means sorting out the shed which for us has become the domain of mice and snakes.

Mrs Jerry is certainly in residence as she happily skipped past me into the shed the other day. Haven't seen Sid lately but he is a bit of a loner.

We are particularly wary of a pile of car types which we have previously piled high at the back of the shed. Ideal for nesting wildlife. This year they are being turned into a potato tower when we/I summon up enough courage to move them.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hanging Around

The sky was filled with these para-gliders this afternoon. We normally get quite a few gliders but not these. Oh look, I thought,  its the man from Del Monte come to make me a ridiculous offer for my olive crop.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sta sera

We are going to Gustavo's for a plate of something nice and probably a cheeky red to wash it down with. Gustavo's has started hosting Acid Jazz nights every Friday night so we will probably be taping our feet as well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

La Porchetta

Working in the grove it is easy for the mind to drift off onto other things. A frequent port of call for mine, is food, and with tomorrow being market day in Trevi it was the thought of a porchetta roll that put a smile on my face. A couple of slices of this in a roll with some salt and you have Umbrian fast food. Simple but wow fantastic!

Porchetta is a whole pig stuffed with rosemary and roasted over wood. These are sold from vans parked on the side of the road in Piazzas of towns and villages all over the region.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In a flat field

I wish. Back in the grove today strimming the grass and removing any basal growth from the trees which will make picking a whole lot easier. I have to say I do enjoy cleaning up a tree so that it looks well tended. There is a great sense of satisfaction.

The start of the hunting season was actually fairly low key around us. But not when they start hunting these....