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Bounty of the Wild Hedgerow

Hi folks, we are just back from Tuscany (see my article here) and once again we have had a fabulous time, we visited hillside citadels etc. and did all of the things that Italy is famous for, such things as eating, drinking good wine, sunbathing, visiting museums, magnificent views (Fig 1) etc. etc.

Jan and I have always enjoyed walking around the local countryside whilst we are staying in the Zampugna apartments (Fig 2), I know I have mentioned these walks before, especially as we usually pick some green walnuts to make our Walnut Liqueur with (see recipe here). We may even have commented on the bounty of wild food available in the hedgerows, but on this visit, all of the seasonal vegetation was 3 to 4 weeks ahead of its normal timeframe, therefore the hedgerows were different; gone were the Poppies and even the Orchids were not as plentiful, but the fruit was much more in advance of what it normally is. So much so, that as we walked down to collect the Walnuts, we were able to feast on Morello Cherries, so ripe, juicy and full of taste, they were divine.

This served, to once again, make us think about the bounty of fruit there was in the hedgerow, Apples, Apricots, Plums, Cherries, Grapes, Olives, Almonds, Blackberries, Sloes, Fennel, Walnuts of course, and probably much more, but these are the ones that were readily recognisable and accessible, all within a 1 Kilometre walk from our apartment. No pears though, that's was a bit strange – and don't whatever you do, mention the Mushrooms (Fig 3) !!!

Have we missed a trick in Britain by grubbing up our hedgerows? I think so.

Added to this bounty there is also the Wild Boar, Hare, Rabbit and Deer, all there to be hunted when in season of course – and just to complete our wild hedgerow experience, one evening when returning from a restaurant, driving down our little back road, we at last got sight of the wild Porcupine; I say 'at last' because Porcupines have always been a bit of mythical creature to us when visiting Tuscany; others had reportedly seen them, but this year we saw them for ourselves.

 

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Walnuts

 

 

Latest Cheese-making Course

The latest cheese making course was, for me a bit of a departure from the norm in that I had 6 participants instead of the usual 4. It necessitated an increase in station numbers and a change in the shape of the setup, but in general it worked well; in fact, one person commented in their feedback form about it being a good number or participants (Fig 1).

I get lots of enquiries about what happens on the course, so I thought, in this blog I would take the opportunity to explain with a little more detail about what happens during the cheese making day.

  Figure 1

Read more: Latest Cheese-making Course

Chandlers Roque (Stilton style cheese)

Just cracked open this little beauty, 3 months old and a bite on it like a Doberman, lovely and creamy too.

  Chandlers Roque

Break in Paris

We've just returned from a 4 day weekend break in Paris, it was fabulous. We stayed in the Mercure Hotel in Dupleix, right opposite the Dupleix Metro Station; very handy for the Eiffel Tower (fig 1) and other tourist attractions. We did the usual sort of things – Louvre, river boat, Les Invalids, eating and drinking etc. and in keeping with modern time, a selfie (Fig 2); however, we just loved walking around the streets appreciating the spring blossom on the trees and the architecture. There were some fantastic building to behold; this area has quite a few Embassies situated in it, therefore the buildings are well maintained (Fig 3 & 4), but that's not what I want to reflect about in this blog.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

Read more: Break in Paris

Sad news of the demise of a Cheese

As part of my course, when talking about ripening the cheese in a box, I usually ask if anyone has a cat; if so, I advise they put the cheese somewhere where the cat can’t get at the ripening cheese.

See below for a salutary lesson on the subject of pet proofing your cheese. This is from Patti, a participant on the March 9th course.

CATASTROPHE!!!!

Or perhaps I should say DOGASTROPHE!!!

While we were out this afternoon the dogs colluded to knock my cheese ripening box off the counter between the kitchen and the dining room (only reachable by the whippet) into the dining room where the latched double doors were bulldozed open (only the spaniel has the heft to do that) and between them they polished off the lot.........

Both looked suitably chastened and I will obviously have to find a higher place to ripen the cheese (the larder proved a wee bit too cold). For info a lovely little bloom was just starting on both of them.

Gutted and sick as a parrot doesn't begin to cover it!!! Will attempt another batch tomorrow afternoon and will let you know how I get on.

Dogs - who'd have them!

Patti x

As a dog lover there’s a bit of me that smiles and says, bless the little devils, especially as we were caught out many years ago by our Doberman dog; we went out and left a frozen leg of lamb on the back of the work surface; he had a great time gnawing his way through to the bone, needless to say, he was ill afterward.

As a Cheese maker and the person who taught Patti how to make the two cheeses, I am really disappointed for her, we had such a great time making the cheeses and it sounds like they were progressing very well – obviously the dogs thought so too.

Pet lovers beware; cheese is an attractive temptation to lots of our furry friends!!!

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