Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Certaldo

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Carol and breakfast in Certaldo, Tuscany

Carol and breakfast in Certaldo, Tuscany

We found a hill town in Tuscany smaller than Montalcino and have relaxed and enjoyed the ambiance and flavors of this region that is anchored between Sienna and Florence. This is Chianti region!

It has been a sad year for the olive and grape growers all over Tuscany. Damaging rain came when the olive flowers were due to bloom  thus crippling the olive oil crop for this year. I know Italians who are gonna have to buy their oil from out of the country. And just when the grapes were to soak in the sugar- encouraging sunshine in August, the rains came again and most of their harvest was ruined.

But Certaldo is a little gem of simplicity high on a hill with their claim to fame as home to the writer Boccacio (the “Decameron”) and to the Blessed Julia of Certaldo (hometown example of sacrificial faith).

Enjoyed worshipping with them this morning and Tomasso, their organist, invited my to play. I met him yesterday as he practiced and we shared ‘shop talk’. I declined the honor but loved his spirit. Isn’t it great God speaks italian too?

While enjoying the view from our second floor sitting area, we watched the hotel staff get ready for a big wedding. The beautiful couple had a wedding luncheon, were married next door at the town hall, and came back for cake and champagne. As the gals from the hotel were placing the cakes, a gust of wind tossed the ceramic cake top onto two of the layers and then splat on the brick patio. Seeing the panic that ensued, Carol and I rushed down there, helped them repair the cake (whipped cream in a can!) and glued the pieces back together just moments before the happy couple walked back in. It lasted for the photographs and cake cutting, but a couple of the youthful guests picked it up and it came apart again (the worst break was the groom lost his head!). The staff sent up wedding cake for us to enjoy after we retreated to our lookout, and the next day they gave us a nice bottle of chianti as we checked out. Italy becomes special when you connect with the people!

Anna Lisa

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

A year in the life of a wine grower,I am convinced, is like pregnancy and giving birth to a baby. So many months leading up to the big event.

This year throughout Italy, it rained all of August. Not enough sun! So some of the grapes have some mold, and now that the sun is finally out, the mold is growing. The sun is needed to get the sugar content up so the alcohol level will be the right level when it starts to ferment in the cask. A lot of the grapes were pre-harvested and tossed to the ground because of the mold. Add to that the demand for workers to harvest and the crushing machine working sometimes, and the fact that all the bills have to be paid and the wine isn’t even in the bottle yet!

Our friend Anna Lisa Tempestini goes through this and more every year. She’s a wife and mother, yoga instructor, and cooking teacher and even a soon to be author. We stopped by to see her in action as the harvest was happening, at that precise moment!  

She dropped everything to be with us and make us feel welcome on our third time, over the years, to her home. We tried to be brief and take lots of photos of those lush bunches of grapes being picked but also noticing half as much on the ground that weren’t gonna make it into the barrel.

When you pop a cork on a good vintage, it is a joy and delight; you are a participant in the whole drama of the grape. When you have a not-so-good vintage, I saw through Anna Lisa,  the vintner still loves it for all it took to bring it to life.

The struggle makes it all the more dear.

And her wine, “Martin del Nero“, is excellent!

martindelnero

Painted in Waterlogue

grapes1

The Besta In Resta

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Being with Annalisa Tempestini in her home in Resta, Tuscany is like stopping the world and enjoying the very best in flavors: food,wine, and life.

The “home” (former monastery) was started in 1571 by the contractor/mon Martin del Nero. He wrote a prayer in the cement in the basement,blessing the home and the wine to come, and it is STILL recipient of that prayer.

We enjoyed cooking with Annalisa, making Pinci, sauteed  fresh harvested artichokes, stuffed zuchinni, foccacia and dried tomato/caper spread. Gelato and dark cherries topped off a PERFECT afternoon.

And of course, a bottle of the legendary Martin del Nero.

Though as busy and stretched as a mom-artist-yoga instructor-writer-cook-winemaker can be, she made us feel her world had stopped for us and our time together.

I wish I could send you the flavors and aromas, or bring back a bottle of them in my suit case. Bella, Anna Lisa, grazie,grazie.

Traveling With Bimbo

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Short for Bambino, long for trial and treat as KC ,Jonathan, and baby Carson are with us enjoying the laidback lifestyle of Tuscany.

He doesn’t like his carseat so he SCREAMS until we reach our destination. And then we can’t walk down an Italian street without being mobbed by folk of all ages who want to squeeze cheeks and offer little kisses.

We have him in every picture, so when he asks if he can go Europe when he is older we can prove he already did Italy! Here KC and Carson are enjoying a “tasting”!

Life Is Good

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

A jug of wine, a loaf of ..oh forget it! A jug of wine works for us!  We check into our apartment on a hill, #13 Matteotti, and within the hour we moved funiture, unpacked, threw open the shutters and sash, and had christened a jug of tavelo- sangiovese grosso – nectar of the (italian) gods.

And like a puzzle piece looking for it’s fit, we are sooooo there.  Only wish the folk from 2 years ago who visited were sharing this moment.  But then, they are on our hearts as we gaze across the Val d’Orcia:  Ron, Mary, Tom, Alice, Carolyn, Jeff, Jeane, Kathie, Lisa and Andy….here’s to you, Cin cin!

Waking up to Tuscany

Out Of Africa

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Brenda and Perry Jansen

This summation is probably for my benefit as I reflect on the incredible experience Steve and I had In Malawi and South Africa.  Safari’s are not glamorous but folk who dedicate their lives to helping others are rock stars! They are the people who captured my heart on this God-led journey.

Dr. Perry Jansen: visionary, doctor,awesome guitarist, expert in AIDS and tropical diseases, Man of God, Caring father, colleague to many, and funny.

Brenda: devoted Mom and helpmate, tender and focused heart, hostess, musical,anchor.

Nate: bright student, college bound, passionate worship leader, great guitarist, kind big brother, huge potential.

Jansen Family

Erin: emerging woman, playful kid, good writer, great big sister, sweet tooth.

Olivia: small voice, big smile, large heart, pixie, chocolate bundle of joy and delight.

Blessing: phenomenal natural talent, dependable, quiet, polite, appreciative. Bird painter extraordinaire.

Donald:  supportive friend, gracious, focused ladder climber.

Anna, Miriam, Joseph, Lester, Ida, Lucy, Octavius, Grant, John Hamilton, John Fielder, Cory, Elizabeth, Stalkers, Colleen, Maxwell, Agnes, the kids of Takambe, nurses in frilly caps, Blue-gingham girls, the 4:30 ambulance pile-in, Chijenzes, ironed shirts, short ties, and the miracles God brought about to pass every single day.

Blessing and Donald

Things I wont miss:  Goats, potholes, crumbling roads, cold showers, bicycles, smoke, power outages, no internet, pushy vendors, extreme poverty, flying for 26 hours, converting kwatcha$, nsima.

Things I did miss or will miss:  Family at home, new friends in  Malawi, wine, big salads, servants, the warmth of the people, power outages (hey candlelight is nice) the African worship, people with passion, childrens’  faces, visiting, tv-less, early nights, early mornings, MASH episodes.

Dick and Charlotte Day

In Zomba we now have fond memories of Moira and Steve Chimombo, Dick and Charlotte Day, Windeson’s cooking, Winston, Ben, Jean,Irene, Isabel,Catherine, Faith the villages of Simyoni, Kawiya,  Makundula, the Mponda School and Zomba Central Hospital.

And we took the love of wonderful folk who donated panties, time, baby caps, pencils, quilts, stencils and funds to make it all happen,  and PRAYER and those who offered it up that kept us safe and healthy!! and a husband who shared a passion and humbly served others. Love him even more.

Thank you Editor, you keep me grounded and connected.

What a journey!

XO

Traveling Down Memory Lane

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Got brave and went to a reunion of my sorority at the University of Redlands Delta Kappa Psi celebrated its 100th  birthday at a beautiful luncheon and afternoon tea, and my pledge class celebrated 40 years since we joined.

I haven’t seen most of these Lavender Ladies since graduation, 39 years ago though Christmas cards keep us updated with some.  Many hugs, tears, and remembrances! I think we look great (you can tell who we still are, if that makes sense), and are all on the verge, or have just retired and are eagerly tackling new challenges. And not to be trite, but 60 sure looks and acts like the new 40!

A few aches and pains, several grandchildren — or none at all — lots of travel, and all good people. I even made some new delta friends from other classes.  Imagine, 425 ladies attended out of the 1200 members that are still alive — a whopping third!  We were singing sorority songs, eating, and drinking a lot of wine or ice tea.  I never thought I’d be at this end of the spectrum, age wise, but was amazed and challenged by the sisters attending who were in the decades ahead of me.

What a beautiful day to treasure forever!

Little Italy

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

If you can’t make it to Europe, the next best thing is a class in the Little Italy part of downtown San Diego.  Steve and I enjoy a two hour  mental trip via “the Wines and Foods of Italy by Region”: each week a different area and 4-6 wines to sample, cheeses, polenta, pizza, and dulce.  The class enjoys videos of each region and shares their own Italian stories.

It was one year ago today that we left for Manchester on our way to Volvo and Montalcino. This week’s trip will be to the Open Air Market in Little Italy on Saturday to replenish oils, spices, and memories. Bene, molto bene.

As Time Goes By

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It has been rather busy since returning to San Diego; a Pfizer convention, guests for 8 days,Steve’s dad needing him on the Fourth and him not being home, etc,  so it has just been the last couple of days that we have been unpacking, and sorting our souvenirs and small gifts.  And our memories.  They are not so easy to put back on the shelf.  Do we want to?  What do I miss the most?

What I miss is rediscovering my husband in so many little ways. In Montalcino we got to play “house”.  Shop, cook, wash dishes, and delight in the discoveries we made each day. Read books, watch movies on the computer between toastincinqueterra1us in bed on “movie night.”  No distractions, settled in, drinking wine, making new friends, being of small service, and sharing the immense sense of marvel.  Boy did we fight too! 

Trying not to fall into old patterns and roles, still hurting from failures, and sometimes thinking the only thing we had in common was the kids. Choosing to love, remembering how to love, loving from the head when the heart forgot how. Vowing to change and be different, and making progress . OK, too deep.

I loved having company come.  How honored I was to have someone come so far to share this.  And we were only too eager to share what we had found.  

Cooking Italian style, lots of Jug wine and cheese on a terrace with a million dollar view. Scarves, market day, Duomo’s, Easter week, 8 of Maggio, church bells, finding the small treasures of a small town, great ravioli, poppy fields,  crunchy underwear, shutters thrown open to greet each new day! 

And how humbled I felt that some dear people would read my frequent ranting on my travel blog and let me share this all with them from afar. Thank you.

pietaI was blown away by the faith  of Christians through the many centuries who went on crusades, spent lifetimes building Abbey’s, Cathedrals, walled-cities, who dedicated their lives to sculpting masterpiece, painting ceilings, writing music that glorified God. Sure ,there was greed and self-interest, but you could tell there were hearts who swelled with the love of their Lord to dedicate their lives to doing what they thought was His will. That faith really reached through the centuries and grabbed my heart. 

I confess my “walk” with the Lord has been a little distant of late, maybe less intimate, because of the enormity of expressions of others that make my meager efforts to serve seem so meager.  Why would the God that inspires the Pieta, want to listen to my jibber jabber ( but He does, so i’m working on this).

But WAKE UP Italy and the rest of Europe!  How sad to see the catherals locked and shut down.  Meager attendance, Easter habits, faith as an old persons’ panacea.  They are not smarter because they have put their faith on a shelf.  They are missing the Glory, the faith-dimension that is the only thing that makes this world make any sense. 

Thank you Jesus, for Father Piernino, Giovani, Miranda, Juonpaulo, the monks of St. Antimo and those who still burn brightly. We pray for revival.

So much for the rawness of 3a.m. self-examinations.

Lovely To Lake At

Friday, June 5th, 2009

interlachenDay on the Lake

Interlaken is the land and city between two alpine lakes near Bern (the capitol).  We went by train from Seftigen to Thun to catch the ship that criss-crosses the lake.  We were visiting Heather, Heinz, and their baby Jackson who are friends of our daughter KC (isn’t it great when your kids become adults and share their friends with you!)heinzheather.  We had a beautiful, awesome day in the low 70’s,clear, snowy alps, azure water. 

Swiss life is amazing, gentle, and tasty.  The minimum wage is close to $25 an hour, but then it’s $7 for a simple cup of Starbucks. The public transportation is great, lots of pasture and farms with big-eyed cows wearing their bells (not all of them, these are prizes that they get to wear around their necks if they are best in show).  And every home is required to have a bomb shelter and air purification system in it.  Heather and Heinz’s made for a great wine cellar with a heavy thick door though it was kind of scary.