Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nahema Roses

It is the 25th of October and there was this beauty in the garden. 
Or rather, in the vegie patch, since the roses have had to take refuge there from the deer. 
They are mostly Nahema with its glorious lemon-apricot perfume. I rarely pick the roses, but it is the end of the season and it may soon rain and spoil them...
Such a joy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Boring Boars

 Grubbing around
They're at it again. The first sign is holes in the grass or furrows in the earth, but this year they've outdone themselves. They have re-ploughed stretches of our neighbours' lawn, re-dug the water channel along our road and excavated the river banks. 

The wild boar are in a feeding frenzy. It must be grubs and roots they're after. They've dug virtual ditches along the road and tossed earth all over the place.

Not my own photo: thank-you internet!

We live alongside the wild boar. They're not native to Chianti, but then neither are we. Introduced from game reserves and then crossed with a Hungarian variety, they are huge. Trundling around in the woods in their family groups (mothers and piglets) looking for food, they don't bother us. I've learnt to recognise the cracking and rustling of their passage through the undergrowth, but hardly ever see them. 

In summer when the wild plums ripen it's fun to go out at night and hear them crunching up the plums, stones and all. In autumn they hoover up berries, tubers, grubs. In winter they thrive on acorns and chestnuts. 

When we first arrived at Le Ripe we had the future orchard ploughed, in a manner of speaking, by the builder's digger. Then we sowed beans and peas to enrich the earth. I only hope they had time to enrich the earth because no sooner did the peapods sprout, the plants disappeared. I actually spied the Sus Scrofa family enjoying its picnic of tender peas. What a treat!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Peculiar Pig

More about pigs
Further down the blog is a post about Tuscan pigs. 
But yesterday in Panzano we saw a little girl walking a pig on a lead. 
The girl was very small and the pig was even smaller. It was not a cinta senese, although the markings were similar, but some dwarf breed. 
The little girl was unhappy about being photographed,
but the pig seemed quite relaxed.
An unusual sight in Panzano.



We are not talking about Beethoven's Eroica but a bike race with a difference. Every first Sunday in October cyclists from all over Europe come to Chianti to take part in L' Eroica

The condition for participation is that bike models used should date from 1986 or earlier.  Many cyclists even wear the old gear, and carry spare tires slung over their shoulders. The race for the keenest is 205 kilometres long while the shortest is 35 kilometres. 

Either way the cyclists have to deal with hilly terrain and some unsealed roads, as well as older bike technology. 

We were at Panzano for the Festa Aprilante, the monthly food and crafts fair, and managed to see quite a few brave souls pedal past. 

Cecchini, our famous local butcher, was on hand as usual to offer refreshments. We were amused to see the cyclists scoffing wine and bread smeared with Cecchini's herbed lard!

Useful calories I suppose.

There were quite a few vintage cars around too as well as this two-wheeled vintage interloper...

Apparently 5,000 cyclists took part in L'Eroica this year: che eroi!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


First signs
Autumn has come to the hills, very gently. The first signs are wisps of mist, dew on grass and leaves in the early morning, colours starting to turn. When I passed the orchard this morning I noticed the branches of the quince tree bending low. The quinces were large and heavy, pleading to be harvested. 

Although they are not quite 
ripe, they can be kept on a windowsill inside to ripen slowly and perfume the room. The ones that were addled I cut and cooked with a little sugar into a thick puree which will be preserved in jars to eat with cheese, roasted meat and Greek yogurt...

The quince is a fascinating fruit, with a venerable ancestry. It originated in Asia Minor and was brought to Europe by the Greeks and Romans and was cultivated in medieval gardens. Quince comfits, cubes of sweet quince paste, are still made and eaten in southern Europe to this day. When my husband went to school in Naples, his mother often gave him quince comfits, or cotognata for a treat. A far cry from a Mars bar!