I'm Tamsin Hickson, I live on an olive farm in Le Marche in Central Italy with my husband, sons, father, cats, dog, chickens, ducks (until Christmas).

recipes

  • Tortellini in brodo tortellini2

    This is Sam’s favourite lunch, which he would eat every day of the week if only I would agree to it. As he is 1,96m tall I don’t suggest that normal people eat the quantities that he does, a person with a healthy appetite can cope with 150grams of tortellini. These ones are prepared [...]

Italian

  • Filippo, hero of the day deruta

    Mogliano likes to party and almost every week there is something going on. Last weekend I had the privilege of being co-presenter for Mogliano Canta, a local Italian version of Britain’s Got Talent (although it lacks both the sarcasm and the prizes) and yesterday the people of Mogliano who were born in 1952 celebrated their [...]

making things

  • Back to work january-mornings

    Winter days start abruptly at six forty when Sam and I hunch our shoulders against the cold and pick our way gingerly to the frozen car. I’ve usually forgotten to cover the windscreen with a cloth (Aldo’s solution to frosted windscreens) which means that I pick frenetically at the thick layer of ice with [...]

Vernaccia

vinesUp in the mountains, (an hour away if I’m driving or 35 minutes with Aldo at the wheel), is the small town of Serrapetrona. The smallest classified wine producing zone in Italy, they are justly proud of their Vernaccia, which they have been making since the 1400′s. Vernaccia was the first Le Marche wine to be awarded a DOC and in November every year Serrapetrona gives a party in its honour. It is an intensely aromatic sparkling raspberry red wine, and I fell in love with it on my first taste.  I’m told that it isn’t sold much outside Italy and indeed the flavour, reminiscent of strawberries and cranberries, with spices and tannins, needs to be savoured with the right food and in the right conditions to really come into its own.grapes drying

The first stage of the production is drying the grapes, hung on racks for up to long as twenty days. The drier the grapes, the more concentrated the flavour. The wine is made in three fermentations, the final one producing the fizz.

 

Vernaccia festivalLast weekend we drove up through rich autumn landscapes to Serrapetrona. At the entrance to the festa we bought two glasses, each with its own bag. Long tables covered in bottles were manned by the local producers, eager to fill up our glasses. Once we’d mastered the art of walking with a filled glass in the bag around our necks, we loaded up with local salamis and cheese to go with our dry wine. The light began to fade and the square filled up with people.

vernaccia festa

To give our palates a rest we wandered around the small market stalls in the little streets off the square. I discovered a woman selling dress samples at interesting prices and Aldo ogled the wood turner’s stall.wood turner“I need one of those,” he said as I dragged him away from the lathe to taste the sweet wines, while I passed sweet biscuits and a cone of hot chestnuts to distract him from the large crinkly plastic bag that I had mysteriously acquired whilst he was studying beautiful bowls and goblets.

 

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