Sunday, October 28, 2012

Up we go

Weather permitting we are going to start picking tomorrow. May need a bit of luck this year as there is rain forecast for 9 of the next 10 days. Proviamola.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

St Francis of Assisi

I was in Assisi today doing some leaflet drops. Assisi is tourist central of Umbria housing as tit does the amazing Basilica of St. Francesco celebrating the life of the great Italian saint St. Francis. The town is highly commercialized and is full of shops selling various tourist tat for the hoards who travel there.

This lead me to think was there a way Casa Margherita could help ensure the spirit of St Francis lives on. I think I may have something.

A t-shirt range - Frannie says

Frannie says step on

Frannie says brown's cool

Frannie says go travel

Frannie says poor is good

Frannie says one peace at a time

The range could be endless.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What price olives?

Rumours are swirling that 100 kilos of these will cost over €100 this year. This is a considerable increase on last year when the price was around €75. True, this year there is a notably less fruit but that is quite some increase. Great if your selling but are there any sellers. I spoke to someone today who was searching for fruit to buy and he had been unable to find any.

All will out as they say.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You wish they were all like this

Full of deep red/purple hued fruit with the branches of the tree hanging down with the weight of the olives. Alas nature is not always thus and so this is the exception rather than the norm. Maybe next year...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn like spring

The combination of daytime temperatures in the early 20's and some very heavy morning dews has left the groves looking rather springlike with a carpet of lush green grass underneath.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Harvest lunch

The olive harvest  in times past meant the effort of the extended family and work was done exclusively by hand. This meant long days in the grove. The harvest now is finished before Christmas and the mills are all shut. Previously the harvest would have continued on into February and March. Hard work indeed but it was the vital cash crop for many families.

I am lucky in that my grove is outside my front door and so I can easily return home for lunch. This would have been out of the question for most pickers and so lunch was provided for in the grove. There would have been a fire and any food that could be found to hand, such as these mushrooms I found in the grove this morning, would have been a welcome addition to the menu. You can imagine someone would have gone hunting to see if they could quickly kill something for the pot.

Time for my lunch...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's in a name

This variety of squash, which we bought today, is called Mantovani after the famous Anglo-Italian composer who died in 1980. He was Britain's most successful album act before the Beatles it says here!

Now is having a vegetable named after you good or bad. Well it could be a street, maybe a park, even a whole city that carries your moniker. How about a wine, a football team, a motor car, a planet or star.

Better something than nothing I suppose.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a piping hot bowl of Mantovani soup.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The mist and olives

This was taken Saturday morning and shows Trevi and the valley below full of mist. As the sun warmed the air this lifted and the valley was eventually clear again.

Today Alveiro came up to view the grove below the house which he tends for a local Avocate. We now get on very well with him having earn't our stripes over the years. At first he was quite off but because I was keen to work the olive grove we have some common ground and he is happy to stop and chew the cud - about olives of course.

He did drop in the conversation that one of our neighbors was looking for help to pick her olives and, as is common, was wanting to 'pay' with olives. So you help pick and take an agreed percentage of olives picked as payment.

I am quite interested as we have enough olives for our olive tree adopters but no more and so I would like more olives so I have some oil to sell.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


The mills are already pressing. Olio nuovo is upon us. The first oils of the new season's harvest.

I tasted some olio nuovo last night which quite honestly was the colour of some awful mint cocktail and tasted of nothing but it was new which is the only thing that could be said in its favour.

I am still holding fire on picking and keeping a close eye on the trees.......

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Il Palio di Trevi

Saturday night saw the 32nd running of the Palio which pitches teams from the three Terzieri against each other pulling a cart weighing some 430kg's over a course ending in the central Piazza of Trevi.

The three terzieri are Matiggia, Castello and Piano. This year it was Piano who triumphed with a time of 2' 23".

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ramblin' man

Been in the orto today tidying up some bits and pieces. The tomatoes still have a reasonable amount of fruit on them and the weather is still very warm. A lot warmer than the same time last year I believe.

At this point Rachel would say I should keep a weather diary, like someone she knew in New Zealand, so in a thrice I could refer back and discover what the weather conditions were exactly this time last year or even 5 years ago. Not my thing really.

Now, mutterings offstage that 'there is not much to do in New Zealand' will be ignored as being without foundation.

We are going to leave parts of the veg garden fallow over winter and bring in a load of compost and manure in a concerted effort to improve the structure of the soil.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On your bike

As Norman Tebbit famously inferred in 1981 to the Conservative party conference.

Fast forward to another recessionary period and the Italians are getting on their bikes. Sales of bicycles in 2011 outstripped cars for the first time since the second world war. Quite astonishing really given how much Italians like their cars.

The another thing that is noticeable is that we are in the hunting season and there are significantly fewer rounds being shot. I do not know how much a hunting licence costs but it will run into hundreds of Euros' easily I would thing so another possible saving in these straightened times.

Monday, October 1, 2012

More praise for Cuoco

I made the semifreddo last night for our guests. They were stunned. It was the perfect partner to a few glasses of Moscatel.

Rupert Kirby
Casa Rosada

The Casa Margherita Cookbook - Cuoco - Recipes From Umbria's Larder is available to buy at