Wednesday, 28 October 2009

No Holding Back

Fibonacci was over at the weekend and there wasn't much staring out of windows, I can tell you. On the Friday it was two different bars for an aperitivo and then a restaurant with Bruno and Giulio and various other topers, then two more bars in town before moving on for one for the ditch....., a wonderfully tacky bar/disco by the swimming pool. I believe Fred and I were drinking Spritz (see posts passim) by then, but I can't be sure. The weekend after that little outing took on an altogether more sedate tone as you might imagine for men of a certain age. Chopping up wood, cleaning car windows (thanks Fred) and pretty significant consumption of more wine and mushrooms. Fred's brother, The Intrepid One, will be over shortly so if I can manage to survive that as well there is a fair chance that I might see out the winter.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Clearing from the West

Up to the hilltop village to post a letter; after two days of foul rain and cold, this was the view this morning as the weather clears from the west. There is even a some snow visible on the mountains, and they are quite low, towards the sea. Unusual for October. This afternoon Fibonacci arrives, so all hope is lost for the weekend. He is without his Welsh travelling companion this time.
Incidentally, in front of me in the post office was a monk paying a gas bill. Afterwards I saw him getting into a brand new 09 reg 4x4 Panda. So much for an austere bloody existence. Shouldn't he be on a donkey or something?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

It's all over

Well, nearly over. After the day spent grape picking a couple of weeks back, GianCarlo came round the day before yesterday with my payment.
Thirty litres of the finest Dolcetto di Ovada. Should see me through to the end of the month, even with a long weekend visit coming up by Out The Window Bloke. Thirty litres! That's what I call a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Close Call

I promise this is the last post about mushrooms. But this year is a very special year in terms of the quantity and quality; Italians are going bonkers in their frenzy to collect. Cars parked badly on grassy verges, shouted pleas of "Giuseppe, where are you?" echoing around the woods, the grunting as creaking baskets are loaded into car boots and the thump, thump, thump of the helicopter ambulance as they look for an open area to pick up some fractured fungaiolo who leaned over just a little too far in his quest for that big fat one and fell 40 feet down a ravine.
And there was a bit of a mushroom frenzy in Casa Combo last night as a good number of these little beauties were wolfed down in the company of friends and a serious amount of Barbera d'Asti. Paying the price today. They play hell with your digestive system.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Penny Buns

The Italian State is omnipotent. It even announces when people can start mushrooming - a national pastime here. Anyway, today is the day as the heavy rain of about ten days ago was followed by some hot weather, making conditions ideal for funghi. And not only do they say when you can go but also how much you have to pay for a permesso, the mushroom picking licence. I think this year it is about €35; and it doesn't finish there. You then have to validate it with a marca da bollo, which is an official government stamp (only available from tobacconists) at €14.90; so you are meant to wedge up the thick end of €50 to get muddy, catch a cold and run the risk of a wild boar using your rear end as target practice whilst you are bent over not finding mushrooms. I don't know anyone who actually pays it, but maybe the professional funghioli (mushroom hunters) do in case the Italian Forestry Police (yes, they really do exist, spending most of their time driving round in Land Rovers and 4x4 Pandas doing sod all) nab them.
Licence-less I was out with Lucky this morning in the Combo woods and found these beauties. They are porcini or ceps (in French) or, rather pleasingly, penny buns for us lot. I shall slice them finely and fry them in a little olive oil with finely chopped garlic and parsley. Fresh bread and washed down with some decent Gavi di Gavi. Yum yum pig's bum!

PS Set prop courtesy of Unmitigated England.
PPS I am aware that what little posting there has been of late has been virtually alcohol-free. What with one thing and another I have been distracted recently. I shall do my utmost etc etc