Wednesday, 26 June 2013

elderflower syrup, pt.II

summer is here. golden light in the dusk, smell of hay, cold drinks in the porch, flower's brightest colors, reading books outdoors, long walks with the wagging dog.
the sweetest image of my summer so far

in case you're wondering how i use the elderflower syrup i've made with grandma (elderflower syrup, pt.I here), you should know that it is a perfect refreshment for these hot & wet days.

we carefully filtered and bottled the syrup, (in the end we had 16 liters!) and then stocked it in our cellar.

now it's time to drink it! how?
there is the classic way, diluted in cool water. we prepare a couple of bottle to keep in the fridge, to refresh our afternoons. i love to drink it while eating cherries. (tons of cherries)

then, there is the relaxing way: just perfect for a sunset drink after work, before lunch on sunday, or at the end of a long lambretta ride!
it's called hugo, a cocktail invented in Trentino Alto Adige region and made with elderflower syrup, prosecco, mint leaves and seltz or sparkling water (that i usually do not use).

if you use eledrflower syrup in another way, please tell us! i'd love to give it a try.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

an ancient hamlet. Borgo Malanotte

on our way to Asolo, we stopped by an ancient hamlet called Borgo Malanotte.

it's very close to home but we had only seen it from the road before, and never stopped. that day, our attention was caught by some people who were setting up a town festival. 

i'm glad we stopped. the place is graceful like a poem, with a shade of proud decadence.

there is a bunker from the first world war open to visit {Borgo Malanotte was an headquarter for the artillery units, this is the reason why the place was particulary protected}, but i was more interested in colors, details, people working for the fair. 

{olympus om10 + fuji superia 200}

Friday, 14 June 2013

the city of a hundred horizons. Asolo. June, Saturday 8th

the warm sun makes everything more enjoyable, but i think that I would have considered our day in Asolo perfect even during  a storm. 

arriving at Asolo is beautiful. led by an uphill winding road, you get more and more fascinated by the deep green, the mountains silhouette, the messy perfection of that town which is slowly appearing clear. 

Asolo is a little town nestled between the hills in Treviso province like a gem, with pale green as horizon all around.

our gazes were constantly upturned, catching the beauty of those old houses, which seem to compete with each other in an elegance contest. in the narrow streets there was scent of jasmine. it climbs on the walls of the buildings, framing in green and white the old iron signs and graceful streetlights.

there are a fortress and a museum to visit. located in the highest point of the town, we enjoyed the view from the crenellated fortress. but my favourite thing was wandering among the streets, browsing in antique shops, feel the atmosphere. 

in the past, Asolo was a place where intellectuals, poets and artists loved to take refuge, think, and compose contemplating the stunning landscapes. it all begins when a queen, called Caterina Cornaro, was exiled here from her throne in Cyprus. she made her court by inviting the best artists of the XIV sec (the tower of her castle appears in the first picture).
then, between 1800 and 1900, it was again chosen as home by italian and foreing artists, like the writer Robert Browning, the actress Eleonora Duse, the explorer Freya Stark. it's easy to imagine them, and all the intellectuals who came here, walking under the arcades, their hands clasped behind their backs and an absorbed expression.

maybe that's one of the reasons why there are many foreign travellers coming there, even if it's small and far from the main tourism circuit.

typical cafès and hosterias are a tempting distractions. it's a good place to taste the Veneto simple cuisine, and a perfect location to shop some cheese, coming from the nearby Mount Grappa. i bought some Morlacco cheese myself, bringing home a taste of this lovely day.

have a nice weekend ♥

{olympus om10 + fuji superia 200}

Thursday, 13 June 2013

June, Sunday 2nd

© Giacomo Cipolato
a shot of the two of us, taken by our friend giacomo after a day we spent eating and laughing.

Monday, 10 June 2013

strolling at donkey's pace. May, Sunday 26th

have you ever done a donkey trekking? i've heard it's a trend in walking holidays.

on a sunny sunday morning, the last day of our blog tour in Vicenza's lands, we walked skin to coat with a female donkey named Silvana, along a path that vanished among the olive trees.

donkeys are nice companion to walk with. not too slow, not too fast, they give you time to look around when they stop to taste that tempting tuft of grass. also, they could take your backpack if the hike is too hard for you, and they have that shaggy coat which is so soft on the ears and nose! they make you smile and distract you from the effort and the heat, when they want to play stubborn and refuse to cross a water trickle. 
Martino with the donkey | San Bernardino cave facade

our hike's destination was a cave name after St. Bernardino, where we had a brief refresher on the prehistoric period. i felt like a third grade girl listening to Martino, our guide, who talked about the Neanderthal man traces left here, one of which is a fireplace of 170000 years ago. {seriously, 170000! i had to write it down, cause so many zeros confuse me}

now i want to buy a donkey.

{olympus om10 + fuji superia 200}

Friday, 7 June 2013

colli Berici. May, Saturday 25th

in the first part of our trip in Vicenza province, we breathed the mountain peace of the Altopiano di Asiago. then, with the Vicenza's historic center behind us, our eyes got the power of wander on the lavishly green hills surrounding us. we were ready for the last part, an exploration of the Colli Berici, gentle hills south of Vicenza.
Berici hills map and local products

a roadtrip on the Berici hills {colli Berici} is a journey through the local taste and products. in my mind, now that i'm recollecting those memories, voices and flavours cross each other, to tell the same story, of simplicity and care.
we visited some organic farms, slept in agriturismi with homely atmosphere, drove up and down the narrow streets, looking at the little towns life through the car windows.

i've selected three particular memories, to summarize my experience in the Berici hills. 
the first image that impressed me was the gray sight of the incompiuta, in Brendola. incompiuta means unfinished, and this church is the proof that the crisis was a matter in the past centuries, too: the client did not finish paying for it, and when he died, the work was suspended and never started again. so, the unfinished church still lies there, grim and fascinating, home for crows.

incompiuta di Brendola
the second memory is a feeling. you've seen the map above, where i draw all the local products that are made in the Berici; among those, there are two i like the most: sopressa {aged salami made with the best pig cuts}, and grappa {alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy}. the two rooms, in two different places, where i've seen the sopressa aging, and the distillery equipment, gave me the same feeling. the light and the smell were different, of course, but they were both dark and muffled, chilly and aromatic. and, first of all, the two rooms have the same atmosphere, the one you can feel in places that are rich in traditions handed down from father to son, manual labor, trade secrets. i love this kind of places.

the salami aging room in Agriturismo Monterosso - the Brunello distillery

the third and last memory is a gesture. at the olive oil tasting, and while Marianna was making the goat cheese, the starting gesture was the same: they draw a cross. with the spoon on the cheese, with the oil on the salad. a gesure of blessing.

Brunello distillery
via G.Roi, 51 - Montegalda (VI)

Agriturismo Monterosso
Via Monte Rosso, 18 - Brendola (VI)

Monday, 3 June 2013

goat cheese and legends. May, Saturday 25th

"behind every cheese there is a pasture of a different green under a different sky: meadows caked with salt that the tides of Normandy deposit every evening; meadows scented with aromas in the windy sunlight of Provence; there are different flocks, with their stablings and their transhumances; there are secret processes handed down over the centuries."
Italo Calvino, Mr. Palomar

nowadays, our modern palates are no longer used to the tastes of biodiversity. this is the first lesson we learned after we got off the Altopiano di Asiago, and arrived to agriturismo Al Cucco, surrounded by woods and stream waters. {if you don't remember what an agriturismo is, check this post for the definition}
when you produce non-industrial cheese, it's difficult to obtain the same taste every time, although the procedure and the doses are just the same: you can not predict what herbs or flowers the goat will eat tomorrow, or if she is going to stay in the stable because it's raining. 
for the one of us who are used to eat cheeses that have all the same taste, this could be disturbing. but it should be fascinating! when you taste a cheese, you're tasting the enviroment where the goat {or the cow}is living, the greens of the pasture, the different wind, sky, temperature, tradition. just like Calvino's quote says. 
chamoisee alpine goats

a blonde woman named Marianna is the landlady of agriturismo Al Cucco. she was a chemist but left her job to open this farm, raise goats and make cheese. she's not the only one who make that choice. she told us there is a small but increasing "return to the earth" that they're experiencing around there. people with good office jobs who decide to quit and follow the dream of making something grow with their hands. i think i'll do the same someday.

Marianna showed us how she makes her goat caciotta.
Marianna is a former chemist who had left her job to open an agriturismo, raise goats and produce cheese
Marianna is not just a cheese makers, she also knows a lot of local legends and old stories. while we were taking a walk in the woods, she showed us small tunnels dug into the rocks, excavated during the war and used as deposits.
then, she told us some legends about the anguane. an anguana is a fairy creature typical of the alpine mythology, related to the water, with characteristics that are partly similar to those of a nymph. 

in the Dolomites, anguane are frequently described as young women, often very attractive and able to seduce men, at other times, however, appear as half girls and half reptile or fish, capable of launching loud cries.
Marianna's story described how the anguane live near waters, and spend the nights washing and hanging white sheets to the moonlight. 
another lengend was about the salvanelli, pixies that have fun making jokes to the farmers overnight, like weaving togheter the cow's tails.
legends an old stories in the woods
out of the woods, we arrived at a semi-abandoned hamlet {in the local dialect, a contrà}. lots of rural houses have been abandoned, or, like some of them, are used as a summer house for old people who live in the city and come here to have some fresh healthy air.  

that give to those houses a melancholic look, suspended between being charming and being haunted.

{olympus om10 + fuji superia 200}

Agriturismo Al Cucco
loc. cucco, 2 - 36040 Valdastico (VI)

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