The Taste Of Truffles And The Towers Of Tuscany

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers,

The beautiful autumnal month of November will have you salivating over the earthy smells and taste of Tartufo Bianco (white truffles) and Porcini Mushrooms. Our local restaurants were grating raw Tartufo Bianco over buttered pasta. This is the very best way to eat these wonderful aromatic fungi or, if you eat them, over softly fried eggs.Then there is the fabulous Porcini Mushroom and my favourite dish is the large caps grilled and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. A lovely local restaurant to us is the tiny family run Trattoria Montalbino, between Fiano and Montespertoli. When in Season both these fungi are collected fresh from the surrounding countryside and served up in various ways. Go to Trip Advisor for all their information or ring 0039 339 3695 121 to book a table.

And then there is the oil itself. By the end of November, most of the olives had been collected but a few trees were still waiting for harvesting early in December. The harvest, Raccolta, has been a good one though thirty percent down on last year. The cold-pressed Extra Virgin is to die for. A lovely bright green oil drizzled over fresh bread or over day-old bread, toasted and rubbed with fresh garlic. Absolutely yummy. A note of warning: If you are buying your Extra Virgin in shops and supermarkets, be careful not to buy oil that has been bulked up with palm oil!

Lest we forget, we were reminded in the news that it was the 50th anniversary of the great flood of Florence, when the River Arno burst its banks and devastated this historic city. There was much to say in the newspapers and there is still great concern over the fragile state of the defences. Only recently a riverside road collapsed along with a row of parked cars! And never forgotten will be the aftermath of the terrible earthquakes in central Italy. Il Nazione published a ‘Seismic Map’ showing in various colours the level of risk of earthquakes. Thankfully, our little bit of Tuscany is outside the worst risk zones. The map also showed tiny black hats in the areas controlled by the mafia and their supposed inferior buildings that collapsed killing over three hundred people. Since then, the historic Towers of Tuscany, Le Torri, and in particular Pisa, Siena and Florence have been undergoing checks for weaknesses.

But hey! On a much brighter note, the traditional Panettone cake was appearing in the shops and bakeries. The region held a Panettone contest, Il Gusto Del Derby, and the winners were our lovely friends in Montespertoli, Carlo and Simone at Bar/Pasticeria Fiorentino! I see that this cake, which comes in many different varieties, is also very popular in the UK as is Prosecco, Italy’s most popular fizzy wine. My man’s favourite Panettone is the fig and walnut version. Let me know which variation is your first choice!

Meanwhile, back in our lovely garden, great big juicy pomegranates were weighing down the trees at the bottom of the hill. I’m not too good on using these fruits, but they look fabulous displayed in a dish with their leaves still attached! I would be interested in having some recipes from you cooks out there, for next year’s crop.

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‘And what was the highlight of November here in Tuscany?’ I hear you ask, well it was the Rugby results. Italy has a great team but so often struggle to get past those really strong ones like South Africa, New Zealand and England. Well, we were jubilant when Italy beat South Africa 20-18 after a really tight match. The new Italy coach, Conor O’Shea, seems to be making a big difference and confidence is high!

And finally, for all you fellow rock fans out there, the bands that came to visit our neck of the woods included King Crimson, Simple Minds and Aerosmith. Tickets sell out instantly and unless you are a paid up member of a fan club, you will be lucky to get in! Anyway, you can always come to my own concert next June; The Rock Chick Band will be celebrating its seventh annual performance in our beautiful garden. Follow my blog at www.junefinnigan.wordpress.com for updates.

Well, enough of that, time to ready myself for lunch. Today is 13th December; it’s cold but bright and sunny, in fact so nice we may take a glass of vino down to our terrace before lunch.

Have a great December and a wonderful Festive Season.
Salute June x


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