Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waiting for the Cinghiale

Due Cinghiale
Festivals in hillside towns in Tuscany are a real taste of Italian country life. We attended a Cinghiale Festival. Cinghiale (pronounced ching galley) is wild boar and it is a favorite in Tuscany. As we were driving to the beautiful hill top town of Chianni, sounds like chianti but without the "t", we notice signs to stop and park and they will shuttle us to the top. We pulled over walked a bit and there was a line for the shuttles. There were shuttle buses, small ones to the very large tour bus. We waited in line talking and watching children play tag in the field. He who was "it" was the cinghiale and the others chasing him were the hunters. The third bus, after a brief wait in line was ours.
We followed the crowd off the bus to the town square and stopped as we encountered the crowd, this was the line to the dinner. And my what a line! There was live music and a lot of good people watching. We took turns waiting in line as one would go off to look at shops or bring back local bottles of wine and cheese  all of which made the waiting easier. Menus were handed out in line and we checked off which antipasti,first, second plates and sides we would like. The excitement was growing and our tummies were ready for this feast as we got to the front of the line. Our Turn! We handed them the menus and paid and they told us to stand in the next line to the building where we would be served!!
Thank goodness this line moved quickly. We were seated at a long table. Young kids set our places and served the antipasti. Older folks served our meal and teens cleared the plates. It reminded me of the church dinners I used to attend.
The food was amazing. The  cinghiale ragus over pasta and the stew of cinghiale with olives, the soft polenta with cinghiale, the sliced cinghiale filets and of course the cinghiale sausage and yes the sides of white beans. We walked around town after dinner buying homemade sweets and tasting local limonchello and grappa. We watched as little boys fired toy guns at the paper cinghiale for prizes and watched the video of the hunters with their many cinghiale. I'm wondering if there are any left in the valley for next year!
We went home happy and full after a lovely autumn day waiting for our Cinghiale.
Do not sit on the Cinghiale
The first line
Making the wait easier

A view while in line

Vino Rosso Locale

Ragu de Cinghiale
Cinghiale with Polenta

Cinghiale with olives

Fagiolo Cannellini
Sausage de Cinghiale
Shooting paper Cinghiale for prizes

Videos of the Cinghiale Hunters
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Venice Under the Full Moon

I love watching the little old ladies haveing their Prosecco before lunch and their spritzs' around three... it's definetly a part of Venician culture. A spritz is generally 2 -2.50 euro and a procecco is anywhere from .80 cents to 1.00 euro. 
Part of the Venetian culture is walking in the evening and stopping at the wine and cicchetti barsWe have our favorites. It's like going to a neighbors. You have a glass of local wine .50 cents to 1.00 and a small bite or cicchetti our favorites are smoked salmon with pear on a slice of bread or panchetta with horseradish on crostini... small sandwiches and cheeses, or seafood salads...the cases are full and each bar has their own take on them. You move on to the next making the rounds.
Later in the evening it's time for dinner and the cool crisp air and walking all day you are hungry again.
We go to our favorite La Cantina. Andreas and Francesco have created  a lovely small restaurant with tons of atmosphere and food that is so creative and innovative. There is no menu and Francesco makes inspirational plates with fresh ingredients. We have met people from all over the world here, some whom we still we keep in touch. This time a couple from the Guernsey Islands, a couple from Australia living in London and a lovely couple from Belgium.
We always end up there till closing, helping them to clean up, bringing in chairs and having a last glass of wine catching up on our lives.

The Biennale 

The Biennale is a bi annual art exhibit that is shown at The Arsenal in Venice.
The Arsenal is the old Venetian Naval yard built in 1200's. Art is better there then arms.
It is a juried show with submissions from individual artists and individual countries. We spent the whole day eating up the modern art. All of it very controversial some beautiful and understandable others good fodder for conversation. A beautiful day a long walk home with a stop or two for spritz! 
More work and meeting with friends a walk through the fish market and another lovely dinner.
The final day we went to The Textile Museum to see the inspiration of the Russian costume designer and collector Alexandre Vassiliev. The bead work and fashion was inspirational. 
Leaving Venice is always so hard. It's old and lovely and rich with traditions, Everytime I've been there it always seems to be a full moon. It takes my breathe away. We shall return. .
Going Down the Grand Canal 

In  a water taxi going down Grand Canal to the Arsanal

St Mark's from the water

Fabulous exhibit by the 

Love iron work!

The Arsenal where the ships would come in

An empty room

Me coming out of the empty room

Window in the empty room

The Lion

Narrow calle (street)

Narrow street with Blue Door

Close up of the Blue Door

Spritz con Select

Castana and wine (roasted chestnuts)

Francesco at La Cantina


His table of cheese and meats

Seafood Plate

Cheese melon mustard and "just a few slices of prosciutto"

Fish Market

Fruit and Vegetable Market

My favorites


11:00 am We had done a lot that morning


at noon before we caught the train back to Tuscany

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hiking in the Hills of Tuscany

Long walks, hikes, fortress', abandoned mansions and homes and interesting people are all part of the Tuscan countryside.
We took many long walks viewing the autumn colors and hiked up a hillside to a fortress built in the year 1000.
The evenings were spent cooking with local produce and meats and drinking the local wines. The local wines were 1.20 euro about $1.50 per bottle and were very good!
Neighbors dropped by to welcome us with their favorite wines and local treats in hand. One evening we were invited to a home for a drink. He was quite a character. We met in what we called his "clubhouse". Everymans dream, a wood stove, tools and a huge table for entertaining. We walked in and the woodstove was raging with a huge griddle on top with sizzling polenta and pork with peppers, cinnamon, apples and bananas. The door opened many times with people from Switzerland and Austria and Germany all invited to partake in his wonderful antipasta. We all sat and communicted through bits and pieces of language and laughter and a lively discussion of world politics. Our host opened many bottles of Lambrusco (from Bologna). I hesitated at first remembering the sickingly sweet drink from the 70's.Oh my this was so different rich and lively with a taste of berries very much like a pinot noir with bubbles..... so much many lovely people to meet....the Tuscan Hills are full of magic...




A house we are lusting for

Old Window

Old Blue Door

Reflection in old window

Big sausage

Little Sausage!

Geo Thermal
More Geo Thermal

Fortress from 1000AD

More Fortress

I'm in a Tuscan Painting

Still looks like a painting!

Pine Bark

Fall Walk

Another abandoned house

that we love

The Haunted Mansion

More Haunted Mansion

Haunted Balcony