Monday, October 26, 2009

Close to Our Tuscan Home

Our rental was in the province of Tuscany, but in the mountainous north of Tuscany, without any of the views that one normally associates with Tuscany.

Some building in the nearby town of Camaiore. See the light coloured dots on the mountainside in the background? That is the tiny cluster of houses that is Buchignano, where our rental was.

It was a steady uphill climb from Camaiore to our little villa. The last 1.7km was on a one lane road with tight corners. In fact the corners were blind, so that cars honked their horns when approaching a corner, to give notice that they were coming. If you met a car, one had to back up and/or pull over. The amazing thing was that this was always accomplished quickly and relatively easily, without anyone getting angry. I seem to associate Italy with impatient drivers but we saw quite the opposite. Perhaps this was due to the relatively quiet area we were in.

A very blind corner! The road was paved only about 10 yrs ago.

This old Citroen was alongside the road.

And this plant with so many interesting colours. I have no idea what it is, nor if the berries are edible. Can anyone tell me?

One of our dinners. With my inability to take a photo where everyone looks at least normal, I feel that I had better not show many of the pictures I took!

Our meals were often eaten in stages, so this table looks rather bare. Only the brie baked in filo shows there. Wait...weren't we in Italy? Why a French cheese baked in filo, which I think of as being Greek or Turkish? Ask Rory, it was his meal and he chose this. Actually, he wanted to have foods that were only available back in Roman times, so no tomatoes, corn, peppers....many of the foods we associate with Italy. But wait, cheese, butter and wheat were in that dish. Maybe it did apply.

Kent has a food blog and is showing pics of the meals at the International Blog of Food.

It was chestnut harvesting time in Italy and the hills around our rental were full of chestnut trees growing wild.

At first I tried to open a green casing (see the green one on the left), thinking that the chestnut must be inside. You can't imagine how unpleasant a task it is to try to deal with one of those prickly things. But after finally getting one open I realized that the green ones were a waste of time. Simply wait for the casing to mature and open and then the chestnuts will fall to the ground. Sheesh, its so simple when you know how....

I bought a small bag of chestnut flour, which was needed for one of the recipies for Kent's meal - biscotti made entirely from the flour. True to biscotti tradition, it was dipped in a liquid but in this case in was dessert wine called Vin Santo. Delicious!

In France I was given a bottle of an aperitif wine made from chestnuts. I am looking forward to trying it, but I am still in recovery mode from all the wine I consumed on my trip.

Olive harvesting time is November-December in this area. The olives must be black, as the one below, but by far the majority of the olives were still green in late September.

To prepare for harvesting netting is first strung between the trees like a rope, which is how it was in most olive orchards we saw. Closer to harvest time it is laid out on the ground as in the picture above. If you enlarge the picture you should be able to see the netting on the ground, though you have to look on the left side of the photo to see the contrast between the grey dirt and the dirt that looks red, but in fact has netting on it.

Once the olives turn black they are ready to harvest. Evidently there are 4 methods of harvesting, which vary from using a machine to shake the trees to simply letting the olives drop to the ground. Check out this website for further info regarding how it is done.

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