Friday, 24 October 2008


The last group of visitors left this morning. The weekend has been mad with 12 people in the house - all to celebrate Ralph's birthday on Saturday night. We've had a chaotic 5 weeks to be honest, starting with Beverly arriving on the 18th of September followed by a week in the UK, then back in Tuscany with Mum and Dad visiting for two weeks, 3 days in Brussels, then Mindy and kids for a week and finally, over the last weekend, friends from Vienna popping down to surprise Ralph. I am now well and truly over ironing duvet covers! But it was a time full of happiness and good food and far too much wine and friendship and wonderful memories. Thank you to everyone who was here and helped out with entertaining the kids or with Mathew's schoolwork or with the ironing or making chocolate eclairs exactly when I needed the indulgence!!

We've managed to visit a couple of food festivals recently, including a truffle festival in Barberino. We purchased a black truffle and ate shavings of it on top of spaghetti at Ralph's birthday dinner. Then there was plenty still left over to jazz up the scrambled eggs at brunch the next day. The remaining third has been crushed and put into olive oil. And if you don't know, here is what they look like:

Ralph's birthday went off superbly. We managed to surprise him by organising a visit from Georg (Ralph's good friend from Vienna) with his family. They arrived on Friday evening and stayed the weekend. Dinner on Saturday night was, as usual, brilliant. We started with antipasto - grilled vegetables, foie gras, slivers of Colonnata lardo, Caprese salad and amazing 'nuovo olio d'oliva' or 'new olive oil' - olive oil pressed the day before. Green, cloudy, peppery and incredible. This was followed by Spaghetti with Truffles, then Rosemary infused Pork Loin roasted in our pizza oven. Finally Cantucci (or biscotti) dipped into sweet Vinsanto wine. And some pictures to whet the appetite:
We are going to be very spoiled next weekend - on Saturday we will be picking all the olives in our garden, then helping Francesco's family pick their olives on Sunday, followed by a long lunch (the rule is olive picking for 2 hours followed by lunch for 4!). Our olives will be added to others and we'll be given our very own olive oil. We are all very excited - more so by the idea of the lunch I think!

And now we are alone until we leave here on the 29th November. I'm feeling like I used to feel at the end of a long weekend on Waiheke...only 100 times worse! I'm trying not to count down but I know how quickly the next weeks will go. And then it will be over. And we'll have to start saving again for another trip back!

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