Lunch that didn’t happen

 

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The table was set in the garden

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The flowers were arranged

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The crostini was made

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The bread salad and pasta were made.  The wine was chilled…

 

The guests didn’t show up.  They just did not realize how tired they would be after 24 hours of traveling.  Oh well, the chickens enjoyed some treats. 

A Birthday Party

 

Dinah’s friend John was in Italy to celebrate his birthday. 

 

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Here he is in the dark shirt and glasses.

 

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I have written about Dinah and Allen and their place in Lucignano before.  They owned 4 of the 5 floors in one building and were able to buy the the 5 floors in the building next door and rejoin them together to make one large space that their whole family could use and enjoy.  And a space that they could use and entertain in too.  The public areas downstairs were well planned and make a comfortable, relaxed space for entertaining. 

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It was just the right size group.

 

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I found a nice spot outside with two of my favorite men, Ben on the left and John in the center, (my John, not Dinah’s John.  We have to distinguish them)  .

 

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Inside George had started playing his guitar and singing.  Who knew that those two Irish men, Richard and Allen would know sooooo many Irish songs that they sang acappella since George had not brushed up on those.  That is Richard to the left of Ben.

 

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But what is Jules (in the orange) up to while George sings his heart out?

 

All in all it was a lovely evening.  I think John, the birthday boy chose wisely for his birthday plans.  

Happy Halloween!

 

Guest Post by Nerone, the Dog

Well it has finally gotten cool here and I’m glad. That gave me an excuse to  start sleeping again in the other room on my bed.  And I am finally getting a good night’s sleep.  I love those people of mine, but Man Alive they sure are noisy and get up and down and turn on lights and read and just make all kinds of disturbances.  You know I’m a hard workin’ dog and I need my rest so’s I can guard and watch out for cats.

Those chickens have finally moved away.  Shew!  They were a pushy bunch.  Always drinkin’ out of my water bowl.  And that one rooster.  He’s a biggun!  I’m not messin’ with him.

 

Some lady and her two boys are movin’ in upstairs.  I told them that we used to live upstairs and I could guarantee that its CAT FREE.  Boy I hope they don’t try slippin’ some cat in here.  That would be just too many.  Eight chickens is enough!  That Richard has got some kitten that he keeps tryin’ to get She Who Must Be Obeyed to take.  Thank Goodness She has more sense that to agree.

She tricked me yesterday.  I thought we was goin’ to see my favorite doctoressa vet but Noooooo it was some creepy guy.  I didn’t like him, but I was polite.  Anyways, he put this thing on me to keep me from bitin’ him.  Skinny little thing.  I would have broken a tooth on him.  I was thinkin’ of wearin’ it for Halloween.

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What’ya think?  Scary huh? 

 

Well I got two shots, and a check up and the fur balls clipped from behind my ears and a mani/pedi.  She was all tickled cause it only cost 65 Euros.  She said it used to cost Siena (ohhh that sainted dog) $65 just to walk in to the vets in Virginia.

I’m thinkin’ about my friend Louie, he had surgery yesterday.  I hope he’s doin’ okay.  She says he belongs to that exclusive club of pets that picked up and move across the world with their people.  Siena (see there she is again, Siena this and Siena that.  REALLY!)  was in that club.  Well!  I belong to a special group too.  Dogs that had to wait to find their forever home.  And I’m happy that I did. 

Gotta go now.  I think I see a cat outside.  Can’t let them get the idea that they can walk around like they own the place. 

Porcini and Steak

 

One of the last sagras of the season is held in Noceta near Castiglion Fiorentino,  It is a porcini and steak sagra.

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We went for Sunday lunch.

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Big, nice steaks

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Beautiful, fried porcini.  Always a good one. 

Ohhhh, someone came to visit us

 

Before we moved, because we had a guest house, we used to have a lot of guests.  Now, not so many.  So I am always excited when someone I know comes to visit. 

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This is my friend David in Monte San Savino.  I have known him since first grade.  That’s a long time. 

He and friends were visiting and staying nearby.  We met them one day for lunch at Menchetti. 

 

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Here is David sharing a laugh with one of the employees.  I know I have written about Menchetti before.  We like to take folks there for lunch.  They have a more innovative rather than traditional menu but still remain true to the idea that good, fresh, Tuscan ingredients only need simple preparation along with respect and love to shine.  In the years since we have been here we have watched as  the younger generation has expanded and grown the business.  It is still a family run business. 

As they do every day, the Menchetti family was having lunch too while we were there.  They were so excited by the buzz and wonderment that David and his friends had for all the products that they took us back for a tour of the bakery.

 

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David hangin’ with his new bud, one of the Menchetti boys.  There are two wood fired ovens for baking bread. 

 

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Starter dough for the next day.

 

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The rising loaves waiting to be baked.

 

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Loaves coming out of the gas fired ovens.

 

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Hmmmm, more samples…

If you would like to read more about Menchetti here is their site.  And if you are in the area be sure to stop by for lunch.  http://www.menchetti.it/home-page.html

 

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After an exciting lunch, we headed over to Monte San Savino for a quick tour. Finishing at Bar Madison for gelato or beer or wine or whatever.

I am ‘friends’ on Facebook with a number of people that I went to  school with.  I have been so tickled to see that some of them have visited Europe this year.  I hope they all enjoyed their trips and I hope that next year when they come back they will include a swing through Tuscany with a little time to visit with us.  I think David would tell you that it can be a fun adventure. 

An Anniversary and a Party

 

It seems like we party a lot.  But not really.  It is just what I write about.  (What?  Do you want me to write about doing laundry?)

In September, we were completing our 7th year of being here.  That date coincides with the duck sagra that our little town of Montagnano has.  The sagra is not well run.  Seating is especially difficult.  No matter how many times I explain about how popular this one is and how we need to get there early, inevitably, some part of our group shows up late and puts us right in the crush.  It’s just not fun. 

The pizza sagra is the same way.  This year I figured out that we could get take out.   All our friends were too busy to join us at the pizza sagra so that was what we did.  Really much easier. So for duck I decided that we could get take out duck, I could make some sides, have some friends over and we could sit outside in our yard and enjoy a nice evening.  The sagra runs for two weekends and since we only have so many plates and glasses I decided to divide our friends in to two groups

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I was able to borrow a table and had it set for 8 for our first group.  The roasted duck lends itself well to Asian inspired side dishes. 

 

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Hence the bamboo and Asian beer bottles as vases.

 

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Hmmm, roasted duck. 

 

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The last guest left at 2 in the morning.  Yes, I think we enjoyed the evening much more than if we had gone to the sagra.

 

The next weekend I decided to follow more of a harvest theme, sort of a Thanksgiving with duck instead.  Weather forced us to eat inside.  And for some unknown reason I didn’t take a single picture. 

 

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Afterward two weekends of dinner parties I sort felt like this guy.  The duck take-out bag.  A pirate chasing a chicken?  

Chickens!

 

 

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Currently there are three flocks on the property.  This is ‘the girls’ flock.  These arrived as chicks at the beginning of summer and have grown into this fine group. 

Then there is Lecia’s flock which is headed by ‘mean girl’ (a survivor from the girls’ flock of 2 years ago) (she bosses everyone around and pecks!) and Lecia and Costantino’s 3 chickens that are cousins to Richard’s chickens.  (It is really hard to tell them apart).  And of course, Richard’s chickens who have been having an extended stay at Auntie Martha’s Holiday Hen House. 

 

Now you would think with all this property that these 3 flocks could find enough room to roam.  But no!  While Richard’s flock remains in their pen, the other two hang out by our house. In late afternoon, Richard’s flock is allowed out to stretch their legs and I can supervise them.   They tend to really wander off so sometimes they don’t even get to come out.  Because, if we want to leave I have to go in search of them to get them back to the safety of their pen before we leave.  That can take a half an hour to an hour sometimes.  Meanwhile, all day long, Lecia’s flock and the girls’ flock alternate marching up and down from the horse paddock to the olive groves.  Through Nerone’s yard with a side detour through my garden.  (My garden has really suffered.)  It’s like the changing of the guard! 

 

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The mulch used to be in the bed not all over the walkway.

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There are naps in the middle of the day at the olive tree by Nerone. 

 

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Nerone, the good dog, calmly watching over it all. 

 

I did not complain.  Lecia and Costo decided to relocate both of the flocks that they care for closer to their house.  So now after a few weeks of re-education they are no longer changing the guard all day long.  Instead, coming out only in the late afternoon and staying near that end of the property.  It is a good thing, since a number of unknown folks have taken to walking their dogs on the property.  Sometimes without a leash!  (You can imagine how Nerone feels about that!) 

Richard’s flock is supposed to be leaving.  After that I will finally try to put my garden back together again.  In the meantime let me know if you need some eggs….

Plant of the Year

 

It is very hard for me to choose.  I had so many good ones this year.

 

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These airplane plants were started from one that picked up in Nice in the spring of 2013.  When I moved them out this spring I almost killed them by not hardening them off and exposing them to too much sun.  (Note to self:  in the spring gradually move these plants out.  They don’t like cold or direct sun.)  Anyway these plants should definitely get the ‘come back plant of the year’ award.   

 

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These have also made a comeback after being devastated by chickens.  Richard’s group of chickens loves the blossoms and eats them.  They were pretty well stripped of blooms a few weeks ago.   Since this picture was taken one of the other flocks of chicks that roam the property devastated them again.  They pulled all the blossoms off but spit them out!  Slowly they have come back yet again. 

 

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Just down from the impatiens is this pot of 3 coleus.  It still looks really good.  The ones at the front in other pots started to get scraggily so I pulled them out and replaced them with pansies and a lettuce plant.  

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This portulaca was a real star too.  Just blooming every sunny day. 

 

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And I like this pot with a number of volunteers;  it is a real mish mash of colours. 

 

All in all I had a pretty garden this year, thanks to my friend Jules who brought me a box of Miracle-Gro from Great Britain. 

I like this time of year

 

because food from one season overlaps with the other. 

 

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We still have really good melon and figs but…

 

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kale has started too.  We have also had some great asparagus and strawberries both of which were NOT FLOWN in from South America or Africa but were from northern Italy. 

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So I’ll take this chance to scribble something about the weather.  Summer was not that hot.  Maybe a total of 20 days when the temperature reached 90 degrees.  It rained about every 10 to 15 days.  That is a good bit of rain for summer time here.  Normally there is a stretch of 30 to 45 days of no rain at all.  And the rain continues to fall.  Just this past week (Oct. 9) Genoa and maybe the Cinque Terra were hit by heavy, fast rain that caused flash flooding.  People died and a number have lost their houses. 

Otherwise I have been wearing a sweatshirt when I walk the dog in the morning since the first of September.  We are sleeping with only one window partially open.  There is a lot of pollen that is bothering both Ben and I but the rains wash it out and that helps.  And that’s about it for the weather report.

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A sunset sky.

Good steak in Foiano

 

In early September we were at the good steak festa in Foiano.

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We decided to go to Sunday lunch.  Much less crowded. 

 

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Steaks were really good.

 

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Here is the wait staff enjoying their meal. 

 

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Thanks big white cow.  It was a nice steak. 

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