THE TALE (and some pics) OF THE PERFECT TUSCAN CHRISTMAS LUNCH

I'm writing a book. Hence I raise the wordcount by cutting down on aperitifs (not an easy feat in my Tuscan village), and I keep the storyline going by dodging invitations to Sunday lunch. But when I know that the table will look like this...

The table setting for a Tuscan Christmas lunch in the Chianti



and the food like this

Eggs poached in tomato sauce and Olivier salad

it's hard to resist...



Hence we drove to the Chianti and followed the crowd through the woods to jump into the midst of the clatter, chatter and laughter of a Tuscan Christmas gathering,

Tommy and Giulia serving the second course during a Tuscan Christmas lunch


The long table of a Tuscan Christmas lunch in the ChiantiA bottle of Chianti shared by the guests of a Tuscan Christmas gathering


which was cleverly interrupted by countryside walks to make sure there was room for more,

A group of people walking on a trail through the woods in the Chianti
until - inevitably - the moment arrived, when all the plates were licked and the last bottle of Chianti was emptied and it was time to go home (you said you drive, right?). 

Empty bottles and wine glasses on a decorated table in the Chianti





















INGREDIENTS FOR A TUSCAN GATHERING

Lunch was organized by Emiko Davies and Giulia from Juls' Kitchen, who with the help of their respective partners put together a fabulous Christmas menu. Wines were served by Sarah Fioroni from San Gimignano's Fattoria Poggio all'Oro

Good chats were had with lots of people, but I drunk too much to remember all of them - (Sarah thanks for filling up my glass! But through the mist I definitely remember having met the owners of some fabulous B&Bs and agriturismi in Tuscany and Rome - they obviously managed to leave a vivid impression. 
  • Irene Berni and Paolo from the incredibly stylish Val di Rose near Florence
  • Luisa and Matthias from the ideally located Agriturismo Il Rigo in the midst of Val d'Orcia
  • Linda and Steve from The Beehive, my favorite B&B and hostel in Rome 
  • and Molly McIlwrath - no accommodation here, but plenty of useful Tuscany based information (I've alreday told you about Molly in my article about family tours in Florence)
All of this took place in the fairytale location of la Selva giardino del Belvedere, which - like B&B Val di Rose and Il Rigo mentioned above - is not just a great venue for a festive lunch but also for a romantic wedding in Tuscany. For the recipes don't ask me (no hope there) but find all the details needed to create the perfect porcini polenta or fig filled panforte on Emiko's and Giulia's blogs.

Two bowls in front of the fire in a traditional Tuscan ovenA contemporary amphitheater in the Tuscan woodsThe heavenly swings at la SelvaCandles and quinces on top of the fireplace

THE OLIVE HARVEST 2015 - all good news at last for an excellent EVOO

Crates of olives are emptied at the olive press


There are a lot of olives to be picked in 2015 - and they are all in excellent shape. The Italian olive harvest 2015 is the exact opposite of the utterly miserable harvest that took place in 2014. This October and November plenty of olives are being turned into some of the best Tuscan and Italian extra virgin olive oils of the last decade or two. 

The extremely hot summer may have been hard to deal with for humans, but the high temperatures were ideal for Italy's olive trees, since the heat stopped the reproduction of the crazy pests that run havoc in the groves the year before (the male of the olive fly goes sterile once temperature hits 32 degrees).  

THE OLIVE HARVEST 2015 in NUMBERS

Our fifty plus trees produced 815 kg of olives with a yield of 90 kg of extra virgin olive oil  - during the 2014 harvest we picked a mere 90 kg of olives which produced 8 kg of EVOO. For more info on our average yields read my detailed post about the disastrous olive harvest 2014. This autumn the picking has been so pain free that there isn't really much to write about! 

Our olive oil is for family use only, but if you're planning to stock up on quality EVOO, 2015 is a great year to buy the one produced in Tuscany. And if a taste of this one fine harvest has convinced you to buy your very own olive grove, make sure you read Olive Picking for Dummies first. 


Tools for the olive harvest on a table in a Tuscan olive grove


Nets to collect the olives under a tree in an olive grove


A dog and a Tuscan native picking olives with an electric tool


Olives being unloaded from an Ape car at the Frantoio (olive press)


A girl counting the crates of picked olives on a lorry arriving at the press


Two Tuscan farmers waiting for the first oil


A dog under an olive tree during the harvest 2015


Healthy black and green olives on a Tuscan tree in autumn 2015



A lorry filled with crates of our Tuscan olives


A table in an Italian olive grove by the end of the harvest and a few forgotten olives


The freshly pressed EVOO at the frantoio

TUSCANY IN SPRING: A PHOTOGUIDE



Ochre, terracotta and any existing shade of burnt sienna are the colours that come to mind when thinking of the famous rolling hills. However, for a few months each year, the Tuscan landscape doesn't look like something coming out of a pottery workshop, but like Ireland in summer. Minus the rain. And the Guinness. 









TUSCANY IN SPRING
It won't last though. Unless Tuscany's warm season is unusally wet like the incredibly rainy summer 2014, the landscape will look like this by the end of spring.

A glass of Vermentino wine in front of the the ocre colored Tuscan hills in July

WINTER NIGHT IN CINIGIANO: LOCAL FOOD AND A WARMING FIRE

Old lady holding a plate with polenta next to an open fire



All of Tuscany seems off-the-beaten path in winter and not even the Uffizi will boast the usual crowds and queues. So imagine how quiet things get in my Tuscan village, where American and Japanese tourists don't even come through in high season.

But one night every February, a barbecue is installed on Cinigiano's town square and the line in front of it will be longer than the one at the Vatican. Winter being cold in southern Tuscany too, lots of red wine will have to be drunk to warm up whilst watching the locals prepare the rivolti, an incredibly basic flour and water only pancake totally appropriate for the start of lent. But Cinigiano being Tuscan - and hence communist at heart - lent isn't taken too seriously, so expect plenty of wine, polenta and fried sausages.

CINIGIANO - NOTTE DEI RIVOLTI, WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 17, 2015 

Dress warm and arrive early (before 7.30 pm) to avoid the polenta queue. Not here in winter? Visit Cinigiano and its Montecucco wines during the rest of the year. 

The foodie queue during the 'notte dei rivolti'

Rivolti in a frying pan on an outdoor winter night

Rivolti and polenta in the making
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 

© TUSCANY All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger