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

  • A la braccia a-la-braccia-2

    It’s officially party time – three out of our four children have birthdays in this period, and the fourth has a summer party which, he informs us, is now an established part of the summer. Their favourite party food is pizza, but until we build a pizza oven they will accept grilled or barbequed [...]

Italian

  • Come away with me? Perhaps not christmas-decoration

    Christmas draws nearer and we’re into the last week of English lessons before the holiday season. Monday is my hard core class, with several students who have been with me since I started teaching back in 2004. They promise to carry on to the bitter end; which raises the interesting question of just where that [...]

making things

  • Finally pool 1

    One of the reasons (apart from the incredible heat) that I’ve not written much recently can be seen above. As with all construction/reconstruction/decoration projects the end result seems oddly bloodless. What, you may ask, was stressful about that? A bit of paving around a pool, some terracing, a few plants. What you cannot see is [...]

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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