Sunday, November 22, 2009

Olive tree haircuts, fall vineyard colors and drying grapes

It is time to prune the olive trees and although the skies have been gray, the temperatures are holding nicely around 60 and there is no rain in the forecast.  I have 27 more to go before I finish and these before and after pix give you an idea what is involved.  Kind of reminds me of when I was little and had to go to Roy Buehler, the barber and ask for "short all over, but not a crew-cut".  Alternatively, I could ask you to pick out the 250 differences between the two photos of the same tree.
The vines are all decked out in their fall colors and the grapes we tied to the cables to try a new type of dessert wine are definitely drying.  
I am looking forward to sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Spello and will try to find some sweet potatoes to make them in wedges, parboiled, then with a leaf of sage and wrapped with prosciutto, cooked again in the oven for 10 minutes to finish it up.  I also picked our persimmons and will make some sort of dessert with that.  I am also bringing 100 stuffed olives "ascolana style" to fry up as an appetizer.  It will be my 1st thanksgiving since the singular event we americans put on for our master's classmates in 2006.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

chili cheese fries, spiderwebs of nascondiglio di bacco

17 nov. 2009
The sheep have returned to our area to graze and Bacco has proudly brought 2 skinned lambs up to the B and B. I am hoping they were gifted by the shepherd!
Yesterday, I finally felt up to pruning after catching a rhinovirus from all the trains, planes, trams and buses I rode to get to, from and around Prague. The H1N1 hype is also here in Italy although I am not sure it can find Le Marche.
I had some old and new friends visit over the weekend before they took off for an Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise: the Prices and Crows. I was able to show them around a bit although 2 days is too short to see a lot. We had beautiful weather and views from Ripatransone, Offida's Santa Maria della Rocca and right here at Nascondiglio di Bacco. They tried olive all'ascolane and saw Ascoli Piceno before heading back up to Venice.
This morning and last night were densely foggy, which interfered with my Leonid meteor shower viewing, but left our spider webs glistening with water droplets. A good enough exchange.
Raffaele just got back from a visit to Tuscany with friends and he was excited to have shared lunch with the Fonz! There are myriad pix, filmettes and who knows what else and you can find them on the blog.
More pruning ahead as I need to finish up the 100 trees before I return to the states.
The next few days we will have Dustin Hoffman in the area doing a publicity tour for our region. I hope in some way the ads get to the states.
Finally, I introduced Raffaele to some good old comfort food from the USA. I made homemade fries to go under my chili with some smoked cheese on top. It makes me hungry again today just to look at my pic.
The other pictures are this mornings arachnid art show including one of the artist protaginists and our new ovine neighbors in the distance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Prague, our yards, Happy St. Martin's and Veteran's days

Happy St. Martin's day to everyone. Here it is the day to celebrate "novello" wine which is Italy's answer to beaujolais nouveau. We are heading over to our friends at Aurora vineyard to experience their observance of the festival.
I went to Prague for a long weekend and can attest to its beauty and charms. It was my 1st time travelling to an ex soviet bloc country and appropriately, it was the observance of their 20th anniversary of freedom. I can scarcely believe it has been so long ago. I still remember getting in the tuck position under our desks in school practicing for those nuclear missiles which might arrive any minute. Now, Prague looks like it has been totally westernized with everything from TGIF, Starbucks and McDonalds to the Gap, Prada and YSL. Despite the commercialism, the city is truly a gem and I would have to rank it as one of the prettiest I have visited. It is well worth a 3-4 day visit as you can stay busy visiting castles, medieval towers, museums (Mucha, Kafka, etc.) and the old Jewish quarter which Hitler and his minions were going to leave intact as a reminder of the race they exterminated.
Back at the B&B, we are looking forward to hosting some old friends from the greater KC area including a doctor I worked with in the Belton Harrisonville area. The grass hasn't quit growing, which is good and bad. The good is the grass growing in the vineyard after all the work I performed to plant the nearly 1600 lbs of seed. The bad is I had to mow today around Nascondiglio.
The final olive oil total was 160 liters which was a bit more than last year, although we did trade some last year to pay the mill. Bill Ross is the 1st to bring the new oil back to the states, but I plan on bringing at least 5 liters when I come back next month.
We had some pest problems this year with a troublesome fly and lost almost all of our "tenere" variety, but the others were more resistant and we found an organic spray which helped some with prevention. At any rate, there is no noticeable defect in the oil when I tasted it, which is the important thing.
Happy Veteran's Day to all who served or lost loved ones.
Here is the Prague slide show; just copy and paste
The pictures show before and after the grass started growing, a shot of our scenery and various Prague fotos including the memorial for the student who set himself on fire in 1969 to protest soviet rule and who bacame a catalyst for the movement for independence. There is also the miracle producing baby jesus doll who has elegant outfits donated from all over the world. I won't say more.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Olive harvest accomplished, excursion in the Monti della Laga national park, autumn colors

2 November
I slept through halloween after harvesting 990 lbs of olives saturday, to finish the last of our trees. The olives were all of a type called frantoio which makes a really good mono-variety oil, our "reserve" if you will. It looks like we will have harvested close to 1300 kg this year compared to 1500 last year.
Yesterday after regaining my strength, I took Bacco up into the national park at the border of the Marche and Abruzzo, Monti della Laga and hiked a bit and took some pix of the fall foliage. Check out the link above for the slide show. Put some peaceful music on and relax. The day was perfect with cool, not cold temperatures, full sun and empty trails.
We have had some guests intermittently recently from the US and Italy and are getting requests for New Year's Eve. The busy season is over, however. Fall has advantages in that the people are mostly gone, new wines and oils are ready to taste and it is time for fall festivals and chestnuts.
I am off to the beautiful city of Prague on Thursday for a weekend of sightseeing. I hear it is a wonderful place and it seems to be in the guidebook I bought in italian. That will leave Vienna and Barcelona as my top 2-to see cities in europe.
The grass is slowly growing in the vineyard. It looks a bit like my own hair right now, rather sparse, but hopefully with some minoxidil rain, it will fill up a bit.
For those who don't have 4+ minutes for the slideshow on you tube above, here are some examples of yesterday's pix. The 1st two pictures are from here at Nascondiglio, then Abruzzo and finally Bacco.