Wednesday, February 27, 2008

UNISG in the Marche

27 feb
We were pleased to welcome the students from the UNISG campus in Pollenzo to Nascondiglio di Bacco yesterday. They are spending almost 2 weeks in the Marche to study wine, cheese, apples, olives, fish, anisette and a plethora of other local products. I first found out they were here from our slow food friend Nelson, from Comunanza, and was able to attend a lecture series on a rare apple in the zone called Mele Rosa. If I need a sideline, I now know how to train and prune the trees to maximize production. Unfortunately, here at Nascondiglio, we are a bit out of the preferred growing zone, so this week we planted instead, 2 cherry trees, a lemon tree, a mimosa and various herbs and other decorative plants . You can find out more about this apple and other of the world's endangered food products at the link from this blog which is titled "Slow Food" and explore the Presidi section.
I have finished pruning 90 of our olive trees of 104. An equipment problem gave me an excuse to postpone the last dozen or so.
Instead, I spent a day with the undergrad students of the university as they came to Offida to learn about the wines of Ascoli Piceno. I took them down to see the lacemaking, which is so famous here, and then joined them for their wine tasting and lunch. We took a sidetrip to our place, where we explained the history of our agriturismo and the plans for the future before heading off to the world famous Meletti factory where they make anisette. Their recipe is the same as originally used by the great grandfather and the business is now run by father, brother and son.
It is the only industrially produced anisette using a hot method of extraction of the anise flavor (from seeds grown here in the Marche) wherein an alambic still is filled with pure ethanol to extract the essence from the anise seeds. The byproduct is allowed to age in stainless steel tanks for a minimum of 4 months to amalgamate and soften the flavors. You can buy this in the states, their 2nd biggest market after Italy. Also, if anyone wants to visit the plant, we can make arrangements for a tour and tasting.
Raffaele and I have been making the rounds to various government offices to finalize my visa, the permit for the pool, etc. and hopefully, today at the questura, I will get the last piece to the puzzle which has been my visa application. Then, when all is OK here, I need to return to Chicago, where I am at the mercy of the italian consulate there. Fingers crossed.
We have tentatively set a date of 5-7 March for planting as I am tired of waiting for the rain the agronomist wants. Instead, I picked the dates of the full moon for planting so the inner tides of the rootstock will be in their most ideal state for growing this season! I also plan to howl a bit, put on some feathers and do a dance of some sort or other to the music of Brulee. Anything for my new vines.
Pictures are the newest of Bacco, now over 30 kg I think, the church of Santa Maria della Rocca in Offida in the fog, the students of UNISG in Vinea, our local wine consortium which promotes the wines of the region, the anniversary edition bottle of Meletti anisette and some of the secret ingredients in their product..
A dopo.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

lunar eclipse, italian style

21 Feb
We got to see the lunar eclipse as well, but it was at an obscene hour here. I got up at 0403 to find near total cloud cover but persistence paid off and at 0435 I got these pictures. Unfortunately, I am tripod-less, so you get some strange effects! Your next opportunity to see this phenomenon will be Dec 21, 2010, so mark your calendars.
The guys are still laying out the vineyard and yesterday I planted an asparagus bed and red onions.
Today, off to the city hall to beg for help with the Chicago consulate and more olive pruning.
The planet to the left and above the moon is Saturn and the star to the right and below is Regulus.
Ciao. d

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

19 feb. before photos

Ciao a tutti, Time for a bit of "flight of ideas" from Nascondiglio di Bacco.
Here are the photos I took today as the planters were laying out the vineyard. I spent all day pruning olive trees which is fun (you get to climb trees!), but tiring. From there I could listen to the guys as they worked and I couldn't understand a word. All in Romanian.
Bacco helped out by leaving fertilizer in the field which we need almost as much as rain.
We are currently picking out tile to place around the pool and in front of the agriturismo in the summer breakfast area which right now is filled will ugly white gravel.
Tomorrow off also to buy some trees and plants to fill in the empty spots a bit. Probably a lemon and orange tree as well as ornamental shrubs.
My sis-in-law found my driver's license so I have one less worry when I head back to the states to fight with the consulate.
Sorry it is so cold back home. I hear from Larry it has snowed 21 times in KC this year. Maybe I misunderstood, but I don't ever remember that many accumulations of snow in my life. In contrast, today we reached a bit above 50 degrees with beautiful clear skies. Send a bit of snow or rain our way. (Sounds like a repeat of my begging from last summer, huh?)
The pictures show the freshly plowed land below the b and b, all smooth and ready for barbatelli (rootstock). The lower portion will have Pecorino grapes in lines from left to right and in slightly angled rows down the hill will be all of the red varieties. A bit over an acre will be bare this year and will be planted next year with another white variety which is a cross between Verdicchio and Sauvignon Blanc.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy President's Day, Happy Kosovo independence day?

18 feb.
We had a very tranquil St. Valentine's Day weekend, unfortunately empty despite our wonderful romantic package offer. Oh, well. Maybe next year.
The planters started laying out the vineyard today while I practiced my new olive pruning skills. Right now, I am exhausted having finished about a third of our 104 trees before walking all the way around our property inspecting the work of the planters from all angles.
If we get a little rain, always a big IF, we will begin planting this week! Everyone cross their fingers.
We had 24 people for lunch yesterday and I cooked wild boar and tiramisu and Raffa cooked risotto and made a chocolate souffle'.
I wasn't completely satisfied with the wild pig which tasted a bit bland to me. The problem, I think was having 5 different dishes in the oven at once which made cooking times a bit strange. I am making a bordelaise sauce tonight to use with the leftover cinghiale.
I am still waiting for word from the Italian consulate in Chicago as to my visa requirements. Tally so far - 7 emails and 1 fax.
Also, I have no valid driver's license for america right now. Damn President's day. Can't call anyone :)
The pictures are of Carnivale at Offida, Ascoli, flowers in the yard and the inhabitants of Nascondiglio di Bacco.
I will get up early and take some photos of our land before it gets planted. Before and after photos.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

cool moon, bacco's beachside pickup

12 feb
not really. bacco just met a new friend who took a big burden off me by running with Bacco for 10 minutes so I wouldn't have to! check this out to see more Baccos
The moon is cool tonight, but I have no tripod, so this is as good a picture as I can get in the bulb mode. Anyway, it almost looks like you can see the irregularities of the earth's profile on the moon's surface. I doubt that is the case, ma... I also threw in one more bloom from one of our almond trees. dds

Friday, February 08, 2008

Spring will come also to KC and CO

8 Feb
It has been much warmer here than in my old stomping grounds, so I wanted to send a little sunshine back home to my friends in Kansas City and Denver. Spring will arrive! These are a sampling from today at Nascondiglio di Bacco. Geraniums, Roses, Almond tree blooms, Rosemary and the last may be some sort of daisy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

25.5 Kg

Bacco is eating his food too quickly! We headed to dog food paradise today and Bacco weighed in at 25.5 kg or 56.1 lbs!
He has another 10kg to go, I imagine.
We visited with the engineer and redesigned the pool layout for the back yard. It will be kidney shaped and 5X10 meters with a roman stair and an infinity edge with a little waterfall down to a little pool below. It should be pretty and relaxing and hopefully will be an added draw for Nascondiglio di Bacco.
The ground is about half ready for planting with the other half needing a bit of plowing and pulverizing to make planting easier. The weather is not helping as we need just a bit of rain to soften our clay clods a bit.
If all goes well, the layout of the vineyard should occur within 10 days and planting shortly thereafter.
We still need all you guys to bring your girlfriends here for St. Valentine's day and enjoy our 1st ever spa weekend with massages or reflexology offered in the packages!
The Italian men are a bit afraid of Feb. 14, I think, because to offer a wonderful date would signify commitment on their part. That is what this american guy is hearing at least. It was always one of my favorite days, back when I was romantic, and of course it is also my 1/2 birthday!
The pictures are of Bacco at the Fat Tuesday festival in Offida and up in the newly fallen snow near Castelluccio and 2 pictures of the same dawn taken about a week ago.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fat Tuesday in Offida, a pyro's delight

Ash Wednesday, Mercoledi Cenere
Last night was the big night in Offida for the burning of the tall bamboo canes with processions in the streets, a carnival atmosphere, and a bit of last minute venting before Lent.
Raffaele and I took Bacco to the parade and enjoyed the spectacle. Those whose livers were still functioning were again imbibing (not sure what the absentee rate will be today at work). We stayed sobrio which kept the reflexes sharp for dodging falling embers, flying wine, etc.
The piazzas were full and everyone seemed convinced their bandanas would filter all the harmful smoke and keep their lungs healthy. It was another opportunity for many to again don the traditional "guazaro'" outfit.
Young, old, female, male and female impersonators all were involved in the cane procession. It was quite a sight. I am experimenting with a way to put all the pictures on line through i web or idisk and will provide a link whenever I figure it out.
Eureka! Here is the slide show address
Enjoy all 90 or so photos from last night which should give you an idea what the event is like and what outfits to wear next year. Anyone can carry the canes, by the way, if you want to join the procession. I will have to leave Bacco at Nascondiglio, though.
Earlier in the day, we took a road trip back to the mountains to visit a bakery, Il Forno di Collina, which makes everything using biological ingredients including a sourdough starter which is replenished each day. The wheat is grown near Macerata and milled at a biological mill; It would be a wonderful place for guests, especially our Slow Food friends to visit. Afterwards, a run to Visso where our friend still makes some of the best cured meats and Pecorino cheese in the Marche has his shop Petacci. Another great place to visit on a day trip to Castellucio and Norcia where you could have lunch at Beccofino!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Carnivale in Ascoli and Bacco and me in costume

4 feb
Ascoli was very packed yesterday. It was the day for the big carnival exposition wherein those with a hankering saunter around in costume or present skits. There were many cross dressers, a man dressed as an olive ready for the frying pan, a man with a too real-looking catheter bag attached to his leg, etc. It was a bit too crowded for Bacco and me and we found ourselves sandwiched in their midst with no wiggle room a few times. I have found out where all the silly string in the world has gone and seen many new uses for that confection as well, including filling up bancomat slots e.g. After an hour I was ready to escape. Here are a few pictures from Ascoli Piceno yesterday and a couple of Bacco and me with our local garb, ready for the running of the fake bull.
Tonight in Offida, all the "clubs" (sort of fraternities) dress in their costumes and head for the theater where I suspect there will be no lack of music, dancing and imbibing. The Offidan grand finale with the burning pole procession and bonfire is Tuesday night. From what I understand, this is quite impressive and I will be hoping the weather stays nice.
Wednesday and Friday i will be attending a course on olive tree pruning, so I will know the correct way to cut back our trees. The didactic sessions are followed by hands on training across the road from us and if I can get volunteers, maybe some of the students will cross the street and help me with my trees!
Ciao! d

Sunday, February 03, 2008

5 more pictures from Bove Finto. See below also

The matadors running in the piazza del popolo, the celebration is a real family affair as you can see with everyone in costume. Now I am off to Ascoli to view another type of carnival celebration and will report back with more pictures.

Pictures from Bove Finto

3 Feb.
These are some of the folks enjoying the running of the Fake Bull in Offida. The outfits are called Guazaro' and of course, I had to have one. I need to get the pictures from Raffaele of me in costume with Bacco, though. It was a wonderful drunk fest with everyone toting wine in some sort of container or other, from pint sized to a barrel on a wagon! The bull runs all through the streets of Offida with a guy underneath the head and body frame and another one to guide him as he can't see anything. It is tiring, so people change out every couple of hundred meters. In fact, there are 9 programmed rest stops along the way, each with a different wine. I stayed 100% sobrio so I could get some good shots and left about 4:30 before people became comatose, but Raffaele stayed until about 6 and saw at least 2 casualties from the alcohol. The hospital was geared up for a big crowd. I suppose wine is a bit safer than long island iced teas or purple passion, but one can still get the blood alcohol level near 250 I imagine. I will post a bunch more fotos soon with more action shots.
Enjoy the Super Bowl!