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Posts Tagged ‘Tartufo Bianco’

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Now, I know you are reading this because you love to hear about all things Tuscan, so please forgive me for mentioning my visit to England last week.  You see, I really want to tell you about our stay at the ancient, and possibly haunted, Swan Hotel in Wells, Somerset.  My man and I were passing through and stayed overnight on the Sunday, then returned on the Wednesday night on the way to the airport.  The first night we had the body in the wardrobe scenario.  The doors were locked and we had to call room service to come and open it; it was a very old wardrobe and was firmly closed with the key missing.  The helpful man tried to prise it open but there was a nasty sound of wood splitting, so he stopped.  “Err, there’s something inside.”  He groaned.  “This has never happened before, we had better move you to another room!”

20181017_152822On our return, we were keen to hear about the wardrobe.  Did they find a body?  But they quickly changed the subject and strangely announced that they had upgraded us to the Cathedral Hotel Suite for the night!  Mmmm.  We opened the door and were swallowed by a massive three roomed suite, dripping in old gilt furniture and a huge bathroom with a freestanding copper bath!  When I went to the toilet in the dead of night, I heard a door creaking open.  When I came out, someone or something had opened the door to the old grandfather clock!  Oooooooh! Photos P Finnigan.  visit the website

Enough already.  Thursday evening and we were hugely relieved to be back in our little bit of Chianti.  I was away just five days and the Olive Harvest (Raccolta) seemed to have come and gone already!  Well, I think it has, because we could not see any olives on the trees, apart from a few stragglers.  Either that, or I hadn’t noticed how poor the harvest was looking beforehand!  Perhaps one of you locals could let me know!

20181020_135553Meanwhile, we have returned to C’era una Volta restaurant in Luccardo, to enjoy the Tartufo Bianco (white truffles).  Big shavings sprinkled over buttered pasta; food of the gods!  Some people don’t like the taste, so I’ve heard, but we just love it!  Photo J Finnigan.

20181021_112125And, it’s the time for roasting chestnuts (castagna or marone)!  The Italians love this season and are out there collecting bagfuls in the woodland.  Unfortunately, other hunters are about, the shooting kind, so things can get a little hairy out there.  The chestnuts are not just roasted, they are celebrated like so many other foods, with Festas across the country. Foto La Nazione.

20181013_091622Ah, and not to forget.  I always keep a look out for Autumn Fashion to drool over every week and I thought you might like these ‘hand-made in Italy’ shoes, from igi & Co.  Chunky smart shoes and ankle boots are all the rage here.  Visit  The website

Ok, must get on with the day job!  But, do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers. Visit my official author site at June’s site

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

2017-09-24 09.47.33OK, let’s get Mick Jagger sorted, then we can return to what else is happening in Tuscany and further afield in Italy.  Mick aged seventy-four, the Stones (or should we say the stoned) and entourage arrived at Pisa airport in their own fast jet, emblazoned with their red lipped logo.  In Lucca, just north of Pisa, outside the ancient walls of the city, fifty-six thousand fans roared their approval, whilst clutching probably the most sought after concert tickets of 2017.  It seems Mick also made a private visit to see the original statue of David at La Galleria dell’Accedemia prior to the concert and he ate a gelato on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, as did the other English visitor of note this week, Theresa May.  Well, that was exciting!  Foto La Nazione.

2017-09-22 09.16.26OK, enough of that, what you really want to read about is Italian Fashion, don’t you?  Well, you could hardly ignore the fact that we have just had Milan Fashion Week. Now, I take a serious interest in Italian fashion, as you know, and I can honestly say that the most beautiful clothes will not be found there.

2017-09-24 09.43.07Reading the national and local papers every day, I come across many small fashion designers who produce the most gorgeous clothes that are actually wearable!   The only well-known name I really like is Prada, particularly for handbags and shoes.  So here are a couple of really nice outfits that I found this week.  Don’t you just love these Autumn colours? Fotos La Repubblica.

2017-09-22 09.11.40And, as I mentioned Prada handbags, here is a seasonal one to fawn over! Foto La Repubblica.

871939Meanwhile, back in the glorious Tuscan countryside, we are enjoying a return to lush greenery after lots of rain, cooler weather and sunshine.  What a relief.  And it is that time of year when the enthusiasts head off on foot or bicycle, for a three-day wine and food Slow Travel Fest.  I love this idea and if my little legs were stronger, I would be there with them.  It started yesterday, the 22nd from San Gimignano, past Abbadia Isola and Monteriggioni and covers thirty kilometres with  fabulous views all the way; you might like to look out for next year’s event!  Foto copyright Easyvoyage.

2017-09-22 20.42.22But for me, the real event this week was my plate of pasta with freshly grated Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) over the top.  This is food to die for.  The pasta is lightly tossed in a little butter and nothing else but the Tartufo is needed.  That was Friday evening and Paolo at Ristorante C’era una Volta wasn’t sure if he would have any more this weekend.  Well, I think my man and I will pop over for lunch today, just in case!  If not, there are plenty of Porcini mushrooms available. Yummy!  Foto J Finnigan

OK, time to get glammed up and to go to lunch.  I’ll report back later……..  I’m back, no Tartufo but I did enjoy another lovely Grilled Porcini anti-pasti, so that was good!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this blog, as much as I enjoyed writing it, and in case you overlooked the announcement, I now have an Official Author Site where you will find everything about my books, my diary, news of Literary Events and other interesting snippits.  Oh, and you can even buy a personalised signed book for your favourite person!  Take a look at Official Website

And, don’t forget to drop me a line, I love to hear from you.  Have a good week.

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Rugby victory for Italy! La Nazione

Rugby victory for Italy!
La Nazione

Yesterday evening my man was jubilant!  Many of you know that we are a great Rugby family.  Most of our men have played rugby and our grandson has followed suit.  Why was my man so happy, well Italy had just beaten South Africa, a very strong team, 20-18.  So, Italy goes from strength to strength and considering Rugby is not the country’s first sport, which is football (Calcio), this is very pleasing indeed.  The new coach, Conor O’Shea, seems to be making a big difference and confidence is high.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil. La Reppublica

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil.
La Reppublica

Anyway, what about things closer to home in our little bit of Tuscany?  The subject of pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil is on everyone’s lips in the caffè bar.  Are you aware that this beautiful nectar is being sold around the world, some claiming that it is pure when in fact it is ‘watered down’ by palm oil!  Now, this should be shown on the label, so read the very small print and make sure you get the real stuff.  You can always come to Tuscany and buy fresh from the producers if you fancy a little break!

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino. La nazione.

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino in Montespertoli. La Nazione.

Meanwhile, and in the run-up to Christmas, our part of Tuscany has been running a Panettone making contest, and we were really pleased to read in the paper yesterday that our good friends at Bar Fiorentino in Montespertoli have won the accolade!  This ‘Derby Del Gusto’ is a popular event each year and my man always takes two of the fig and walnut versions to England for friends and associates.

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Ah, then there’s the subject of Porcini mushrooms.  Still available in the shops, markets and restaurants the big grilled caps are to die for.  My man and I went out to Trattoria Montalbino for lunch on Thursday.  This tiny family-run place is in the middle of nowhere but not far from Fiano.  They specialise in fungi and the husband goes hunting for fresh porcini and truffles.  When the season is ended they still manage to do some wonderful dishes with the dried varieties.  Visit Trattoria Montalbino, Montespertoli on Trip Advisor.  Table bookings – 0039 339 3695 121

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

And, not to forget for all you rockers like me, touring bands this week have included Simple Minds and Aerosmith.  Oh, and for all the teeny boppers we are also currently hosting Justin Bieber.  I just popped off to check out Simple Minds on YouTube and there’s some great stuff there.  You may remember their number one hit ‘Don’t you (forget about me)’ in 1985.  The Scottish band was heavily influenced by Roxy Music.  Now Brian Ferry I can watch him perform anytime!  Aerosmith?  Well they are just brilliant in my mind, but tickets seem to be sold out the minute we hear about these bands; hey ho.

OK, time to go, cooking lunch at home today (Sunday) as two-thirds of the local restaurants are closed for winter holidays.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Firstly, a big thank you for all those concerned well wishers.  We have only had a couple of minor earth quakes in our area and all is fine here; no damage at all.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence – It is hard to imagine that exactly fifty years ago, Florence was under very deep water after the River Arno burst its banks.  1966 was a terrible year for the historic and beautiful city.  There has been much to say in the newspapers and there is still real concern that the defences are not good enough.  Only a few months ago, a riverside road collapsed, along with a row of parked cars.  An enormous amount of money is needed to further improve things and what with the financial crisis, this is now getting very serious indeed.

Mappa Sosmica - Seismic Map. La Reppublica

Mappa Sismica – Seismic Map. La Reppublica

I read an article in the newspaper this morning, which really shows the country’s seismic risk areas.  If it was not so serious, I would have laughed at the little men in black hats on the map, indicating the areas controlled by the Mafia who have been responsible for the building and rebuilding of properties, and blamed for the inferior quality of materials and design. I must add, that our little area of Tuscany, is outside the worst danger zone and hope it will not stop you lovely people from visiting next season.

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King Crimson, La Repubblica

But to brighter things.  Thank you to our good friend Flavio who asked me if I knew that The Cure was currently touring.  I did not know, but it was too late to get tickets anyway.  But I did know that King Crimson were celebrating fifty years in rock with a celebration tour here.  What’s this, you don’t remember them? O Dio!  They were hugely popular between 1969 and 1974, when their progressive rock music stretched across to Jazz and classical.  Robert Tripp, the brilliant lead guitarist, took the band through many changes of members and styles, after reaching number 5 in the UK album charts in 1969.  In 2015 the band, with its unusual front of three drummers and four guitarists, had a very successful tour and their concert in Toronto ‘Live at The Orpheum’ was recorded and released as an album.  I love their track ‘Starless’ a lengthy piece and seriously clever, which will give you goose-bumps.  King Crimson – Starless https://youtu.be/FhKJgqxNDD8  via @YouTube

Italian cheeses at La Dispensain Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Tuscan cheeses at La Dispensa in Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, that’s got my rock thing out-of-the-way, so back to Fiano and morning coffee.  Today, Sunday, La Dispensa was very busy with locals.  It’s hard to believe that the place didn’t exist three months ago!  The Italians are very quick to turn a place into a home from home, and so we are able to enjoy coffee and catch up on the newspapers in good company.  La Dispensa also has a lovely range of cheeses, which along with local wines, is my biggest downfall, so I had to buy some yet again.  Otherwise we eat very sensibly!

Pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile the olives have been mostly harvested now and the truffle hunters are out an about seeking that illusive Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle).  The best way to enjoy them is thinly sliced, using a truffle slicer, over buttered tagliatelle.  Not spoiled by adding them to a creamy sauce, as a certain local restuarent did the other day and my man had to send the dish back!

Finally, I’m itching to tell you that I have finished the first draft of ‘The Italian Connection.’  However, having read it and edited, I found myself launching into more chapters as my imagination suddenly took off again!  So, another couple of weeks or so and I’ll be satisfied; I hope!

Well, that’s enough for now.  My man is taking me up to C’era una Volta in Lucardo for lunch, where Paolo is currently serving up a delicious leek and potato soup, and he has the latest Tartufo Bianco on the menu.  Mmmmm.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Aroar of frustration for Italian rugby.

A roar of frustration for Italian rugby.

“England were stuffed last night, I can’t believe it!”  My man was very depressed over the Rugby results, so I try to change the subject.  “I can’t wait to get back into my book this weekend.” I say, meaning my current novel ‘The Italian Connection.”  “Oh you mean you can’t wait to get back between the covers?”  He grins.  Then his face drops again and he says, still on the subject of rugby, “Let’s hope Italy do a better job when they play Ireland this afternoon…..”  I hope so too, as I cannot have both the teams we support going out of the world cup;  our little villa will be under a dark cloud for days!

Daniel joins us for coffee.

Daniel joins us for coffee.

Meanwhile, over coffee in Certaldo we are joined by Daniel Craig.  I know, not really, but his picture is in the newspaper and I can’t wait to see the new Bond film Spectre.  Are you a Bond fan?  Oh, I also read that a Cinghiale, wild boar, was rescued six kilometres off the Calabrian coast by some fishermen.  The poor thing was exhausted and swimming round in circles!  This proves that pigs can swim!  But what’s this?  Would you believe it, six British tourists have been arrested for skinny dipping in the Fountain of the Naids in Piazza della Republica in Rome!  It was the early hours of the morning, but it is against the law to go in or throw anything into Rome’s historic fountains!  Perhaps these people would like to go back to holidaying in Spain!

Fresh salad from the farmers market. Photo J Finnigan

Fresh salad from the farmers market.
Photo J Finnigan

Back in our lovely terraced garden, we enjoy a late lunch with the sister-in-law who has arrived for seven days.  The man is off to London the next day, so immediately after lunch, he rushed around cutting our weedy lawn.  We girlies were forced to drink the rest of the wine and watch him go up and down.  Then a little flying stone hit me on the eyebrow, so he had got his own back!  Earlier, we had picked up some lovely fresh salad in the market in Certaldo and we could see all the stands going up for the afternoon’s Slow Food celebrations.  The sister-in-law and I intend wandering around tomorrow and sampling the food as my man heads off for London.  Sadly it’s now belting down with rain!

Sig Jazzman in Il Castello Bar in Certaldo Alto. Photo J.S.

Sig Jazzman in Il Castello Bar in Certaldo Alto.
Photo J.S.

Fast forward to Sunday and we drop my man at Certaldo station.  The rain is still heavy, so we trudge up Via Giugno and catch the funiculare train up the hill to Certaldo Alto.  To get out of the rain, we rush into the nearest bar and grab a table.  It turns out to be part of Il Castello, which is a popular hotel and there is yet another wedding celebration going on.  In the small bar we sip our wine and wait for the rain to stop, then discover an upright piano and the barman comes around and starts playing some jazz on it.  His English is good and he explains that he’s really a jazz drummer, and did we know that Scott Hamilton lives in the village?  My sister-in-law is very impressed and I tell him that I sing rock music.  His face drops, he’s not into rock…….

Man on stilts with the sister-in-law. Photo J Finnigan

Man on stilts with the sister-in-law.
Photo J Finnigan

Ah, the rain has stopped, so we head up the main via and visit all the local produce stalls, people are selling big porcini mushrooms and questionable looking Tartufo (truffles).  I buy another jar of Certaldo red onion marmalade, which I love with cheese, and then pop into the artisan shop to buy a little present for a friend I’m visiting in England next week.  Then we try to find somewhere for lunch, but it’s heaving with tourists, however, we manage to squeeze in for one course of pasta.  Walking back to the funiculare, giants are walking towards us!  Oh no, it is actually stilt walkers and the sister-in-law poses with one, as she likes to do, pose that is.

Well, I really must get this blog off to you as it is already Monday morning.  I’ll update you on Silvio Berlusconi next weekend.

Have a truly fabulous week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS We now know that both England and Italy are out of the Rugby World Cup – Oh No!

 

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one in the series.

‘My Father, The Assassin’. Book one in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

 

 

 

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Ciao and Welcome to all my New and Loyal Followers

“I’m so glad we gave up smoking when we were young,” I say as we bump along our worsening track to the main road.  “I didn’t need it, I was addicted to you!”  My man grins as he tries to pull his gloves on, whilst negotiating the potholes. Now he does say the nicest things sometimes, but I am gripping my seat at that moment as he swerves around one-handed, due to the glove thing.  “I guess you had a different highway code to me.” I muse.  “Your’s must have read ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre, gloves.”  He grins cheekily again as he finally gets both gloved hands back on the wheel!

New friends Anna and Cristiano at the opening party Photo J Finnigan

New friends Anna and Cristiano at the opening party
Photo J Finnigan

Well, I have to say that last week started rather well as Monday was the opening party night for ‘La Bottega Del Buon Caffe’  in Florence, and we had invites.  It is Borgo San Pietro’s new restaurant in the city and it is very chic indeed.  We were plied with champagne, wine and nibbles and met some really interesting people.  http://www.labottegadelbuoncaffe.com  We were lucky to grab two comfy armchairs with a vantage point and were joined by new friends Anna and Cristiano.  Anna is Editor in Chief of a newspaper called ‘Florence is You’ http://www.florenceisyou.com and we had a really enjoyable hour or so in their company.  We are going to meet them for lunch before Christmas, which is great.  I’ll let you know all about it.

I’m glad to say that Paolo at ‘C’era una Volta’ restaurant is back from a holiday in Peru.  We like to pop in there for Sunday lunch, as many of you already know. go to:

http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com  Paolo produces good Tuscan cooking without all the frills.  Gianluca, the  cheeky waiter, was away in Israel on holiday.  These Italians do get around.

My man's reaction to his vgi sausage and mash! photo J Finnigan

My man’s reaction to his vegi sausage and mash!
photo J Finnigan

However, for a real treat, we returned to Ristorante Latini on the Thursday http://www.ristorantelatini.com  for lovely cheeses, aubergine parmesan bake, pasta with white truffles and freshly baked almondy cake biscuits, for dipping in the Vinsanto.  It’s also a nice comfy hotel, if you need somewhere to stay in the Certaldo/San Gimingiano area.  Yes, I do occasionally cook, but as you know my cooking is pretty desperate at the best of times.  A couple of weeks ago I cooked vegetarian sausages with mash, wanting to appeal to my man’s Englishness, but unfortunately he hates anything processed and the enclosed photo shows you exactly what he thought of them!

The Ant Foundation display in Laura's Bar. \photo J Finnigan

The Ant Foundation display in Laura’s Bar.
photo J Finnigan

Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in Fiano, Sig Rotund has put in a display of Panettone (Italian style Christmas cake) and Poinsettia that are for sale in aid of the Ant Foundation http://www.ant.it  So, as it is a very good cause, I bought one of the green wrapped panettone, which can be used as a bag afterwards.  I’m a sucker for bags.

Oh yes, before I go, I must mention a book I have recently read; I really enjoyed it.  It’s called ‘Just Vines’ by Diana Strinati Baur.  If you love Italy and romance, this one’s for you.  I am now reading the genre I like best, that is a thriller, Jake Needham’s latest ‘The Dead American’.  I love his stuff.  What are you currently reading?  Do drop me a line.

Well, I’m really sorry to say, I must stop here due to the massive work load to be completed before Christmas.

Have a really good week.

Salute June.

PS  Don’t forget to check out Amazon, where my book ‘My Father, The Assassin’ can be downloaded to Kindle for just .99p over the next seven days.  Go to:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

Or you can visit http://www.amazon.com or http://www.amazon.eu

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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

The main reason for moving to Italy was to learn the language.  We also thought that the weather might be a little warmer, brighter and dryer.  Whilst the latter was a secondary issue, right now we are beginning to wonder if the Roman Gods are being unkind to us.  Looking out of the double windows opposite my desk, it could well be a view of English grey skies, and the sound of wheels splashing past the villa sound so wet and chilly.  These days our Italian friends in the cafe bar in Fiano, talk as much about the ‘brutto Tempo’ (bad weather) as we brits did in the local pub after work in England.  This is not a complaint, just an observation, well actually I am complaining, let’s be honest.  However, I have just bought a lovely new pair of soft leather boots from Gabor and my beloved waxed coat has come out of the wardrobe.  These may not sound important to you, but to little old me, these are two of the perks of winter.

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair. Phot J Finnigan

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, Tuscany is still struggling with serious flooding and landslides.  We are desperately waiting for the rain to stop and allow some of the poor homeless people to get back to repairing and rebuilding their homes.  Our little bit of Chianti has so far suffered much less than some areas; may that continue.  Farty Barty the cat, remains in his comfy kitchen chair and refuses to go out at night……that says a lot.

Gluten free pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Gluten free pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

But then all turned bright and sunny on the weekend, metaphorically speaking, when our beautiful nine, nearly ten-year old granddaughter came to stay for two nights.  Absolutely no work or writing got done, we were forced to just relax and enjoy ourselves in her delightful company.  We went out to lunch twice.  Firstly to Ristorante Montalbino for, yes again, white truffle pasta.  It is a tiny family run place where they specialise in fungi and it’s really good.  Then on Sunday we went back to La Gramola in Tavernelle, where we had the most delicious Red Wine Pici with cheese and pepper.  This is home-made spaghetti infused with red wine, so comes out a sort of ruddy colour.  It’s really delicious tossed in pecorino cheese and pepper.  Then I had pears that had been poached in Vin Santo, a wine liqueur made from grapes that have been left to wither on the vine, or so I’m told!

The game of Pick'Up'Sticks Photo J Finnigan

The game of Pick’Up’Sticks
Photo J Finnigan

Back at the villa we played the games of ‘Sorry’ and ‘Pick’up’Sticks’.   We also had a fun time, by having a book each, and reading the first full line of each page one after the other.  This can be hilarious, however, our poor granddaughter had a John Le Carre book in her hands and he tends to write very long sentences.  We were very impressed to find that her reading of difficult English words was brilliant.  She is English, but when you consider that she has only been educated in an Italian school, speaks fluent Italian, and generally reads a lot of Italian books, so brava to her.

Well, I hope that you will not mind if I cut this post a little short.  I have a busy workload today and must knuckle down.

Have a great week and don’t forget to visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

 

 

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