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

  • Tiramisu beach

    This photograph isn’t a very appropriate illustration to accompany the recipe of one of the creamiest and most delicious of Italian puddings, but unfortunately the tiramisu prepared for me by my stepdaughter Chiara was eaten for breakfast this morning by Sam (so sorry Mum, I just kept having another bit…) so I decided to put [...]

Italian

  • Migrant monks abbey

    This morning I was walking at the Abbadia di Fiastra, trying to photograph the swallows swooping over the fields of wheat, when I spotted this far rarer migrant flock. Strangely, for a Cistercian abbey, we hardly ever see monks, so I skulked in the shrubbery some distance away taking photographs.

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making things

  • ReadyMade ready-made

    This has been my guide to preparing the house for the winter months, against the time when the mountain of clutter  indoors threatens to engulf us. Published by Thames and Hudson, ReadyMade offers to “solve problems, cure dizzy spells and hold open the door”. Our first project, inspired by its “garden-shed” approach is the family [...]

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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