Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Closing Down Trullo Azzuro for the Winter

This weekend just gone we spent a long weekend in Italy closing down Trullo Azzurro for the winter; out Friday, back Monday. Mostly putting all the bedding in VacuSacs and bringing the garden furniture indoors, emptying the fridge and a bit of a sweep out.

We were expecting to help our neighbours Carole and Mino over at Truddhi with their olive harvest but that has been postponed for a couple of weeks. Not that we are complaining because that gave us an extra day to do stuff.

We switched off the outside lights and the heating, locked up and that is it until the spring. The local agency who do our "changeover" will look in once a month to check things over and we may even pop over some time in the New Year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Barbera Wine Dinner at Enoteca Turi

Another fine wining and dining experience at Enoteca Turi* this time wines from Piedmont made with the Barbera grape. Interesting to revisit this region so soon after the BBR Tuscany vs Piedmont dinner. Same region, different grape, different price range.

One interesting thing I am (finally) starting to get is distinguishing between my personal preference and which I think is the better wine. In this case I liked the Barbera d'Alba Marun DOC 2003 best for drinking - lots of jammy fruit flavours - but the Barbera d'Asti Superiore DOC 2001 was - in my view - the better wine with aging potential.

Assaggi Piemontesi
(Traditional Piedmontese antipasti)
Arneis Roero DOC 2006 Brovia

Anatra in verza con fonduta
(Duck cooked in cabbage leaves with fonduta)
Barbera d'Alba DOC 2005 Giuseppe Rinaldi

Agnolotti del plin
(Piedmontese veal and spinach ravioli with butter and sage)
Barbera d'Alba Marun DOC 2003 Matteo Correggia

Filetto di cervo con porcini e polenta
(Fillet of venison, porcini mushrooms and fried polenta, juniper berry sauce)
Barbera d'Alba Cascina Francia DOC 2002 Giacomo Conterno
Barbera d'Asti Superiore DOC 2001 La Spinetta

Formaggi regionali
(Selection of the region's cheeses)
Pin Monferrato Rosso DOC 2003 La Spinetta

Torta Gianduia
(Typical Piedmont hazelnut and chocolate tart)
Barbera Passum DOC 2003 Cascina Castlet

The Barbera Passum DOC 2003 was a little disappointing but it *was* up against a seriously chocolatey dessert. Something with more "passito" character might have held its ground better.

* Previously at Enoteca Turi: "Food and Wine from the Sicily Region"

Monday, October 15, 2007

McLellan Family Tree

If you are lucky enough to have Scottish ancestry then tracing back your family tree to the early 1800's is something of a doddle. Go to http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ and you can search the registers of births, marriages and deaths plus a load of parish registers some going back to 1553.

Mary is absolutely hooked and been doing wonderful stuff researching her family, both sides and my Dad's family. She has traced back my paternal line to my great-great-great-grandfather who married in 1817.

Going back earlier than that the chain of evidence starts to get a bit shakey but I am sure there will be more to follow...

Descendants of Archibald McLelan

Generation No. 1

1. ARCHIBALD [1] MCLELAN He married MARRION MCDOUGALL 03 Mar 1817 in Bowmore. She died 24 Aug 1857 in Victoria Street, Govan.

2. i. DOUGALD [2] MCLELLAN, b. 07 Dec 1818, Inchinan, Renfrewshire; d. 12 Jan 1875, Coatbridge.

Generation No. 2

2. DOUGALD [2] MCLELLAN (ARCHIBALD [1] MCLELAN) was born 07 Dec 1818 in Inchinan, Renfrewshire, and died 12 Jan 1875 in Coatbridge. He married ISABELLA MCLEAN 22 Apr 1845 in Barony (Maryhill), Glasgow. She was born in Tyree, Argyll.

Occupation: 07 Apr 1861, Iron Works Magazine Keeper


3. i. CHARLES [3] MCLELLAN, b. 09 May 1852, Gartsherry, Coatbridge; d. 17 Oct 1930, Tollcross Road, Glasgow.
   ii. ARCHIBALD MCLELLAN, b. 10 Jul 1845, Gartsherry, Coatbridge.
   iii. NEIL MCLELLAN, b. 11 Jun 1848.
   iv. DONALD MCLELLAN, b. 09 Jun 1850.
   v. JAMES STEWART MCLELLAN, b. 16 Jul 1854.
   vi. MARRION MCLELLAN, b. 19 Jul 1856.
   vii. JOHN MCLELLAN, b. 07 May 1860, Gartsherry, Coatbridge.

Generation No. 3

3. CHARLES [3] MCLELLAN (DOUGALD [2], ARCHIBALD [1] MCLELAN) was born 09 May 1852 in Gartsherry, Coatbridge, and died 17 Oct 1930 in Tollcross Road, Glasgow. He married MARGARET JONES KENNEDY 06 Dec 1875 in Old Monkland, Lanark. She was born 06 Jan 1855 in Sunnyside, Coatbridge, and died 22 Sep 1930 in Tollcross Road, Glasgow.

4. i. JAMES KENNEDY [4] MCLELLAN, b. 26 Dec 1877, Coatbridge; d. 1933.
   ii. DOUGALD MCLELLAN, b. 22 May 1876, Coatbridge.
   iii. ARCHIBALD MCLELLAN, b. 03 Aug 1879, Coatbridge.
   iv. ELLEN MCMILLAN MCLELLAN, b. 16 Jan 1882, Coatbridge.
   v. ISABELLA MCLELLAN, b. 05 Jun 1890, Coatbridge.

Generation No. 4

4. JAMES KENNEDY [4] MCLELLAN (CHARLES [3], DOUGALD [2], ARCHIBALD [1] MCLELAN) was born 26 Dec 1877 in Coatbridge, and died 1933. He married AMELIA LONG. She was born 1885, and died 1960.

i. JAMES MICHAEL5 MCLELLAN, b. 10 Mar 1925; m. MARGERY FAITH SCALES; b. 27 Apr 1927.

For the PDF originals:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wines of Paul Cluver at Planet of the Grapes

Another interesting tasting at Planet of the Grapes. This time South African wines from Paul Cluver presented by their wine maker, Andries Berger. Always fascinating to hear direct from the winemaker rather than someone in the trade.

Andries is a man committed to his wines and aiming for an old world subtlety and complexity. The audience seemed to shared his belief that he has succeeded. To my palette the Chardonnay had a particularly Burgundian feel to it. He even managed to make an enjoyable wine out Sauvingnon Blanc, of one of my least favourite varietals.

 • Sauvignon Blanc 2006
 • Weisser Riesling 2007
 • Gewurtztraminer 2005
 • Chardonnay 2006
 • Pinot Noir 2004
 • The Elgin Blend 2003
 • Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
 • Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2006

There is always something new to learn about winemaking and this time it was Andries talking about "batonage" - hand stirring of the lees while the wine is aging. This apparently adds complexity to the wines and scavenges oxygen, reducing the risk of unwanted oxidation.

We were impressed by the wines and have ordered 6 of the Chardonnay and 6 of the Cabernet Sauvignon - which will certainly reward a few years cellaring.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007: Cookery School Day 6

Day 6 started with a trip to the market in Locorotondo.

We then met a local butcher who is Mino's business partner followed by an introduction to some neighbours back at Truddhi. They are vinifying Mino's grapes; a considerably less high-tech operation than the Cantina or Rivera!

butcher press

Then it was another afternoon of lessons in preparation for the final evening's meal:

langoustine flan

As it was the last day of the course, at the end of the meal we were presented with our certificates.

mark's certificate mary's certificate

A fuller set of Day 6 photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8179454@N02/sets/72157602269035549/

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007: Cookery School Day 5

Day 5 started with a trip to the winery Rivera one of the best producers in Puglia and one of Mary's favourites. The winemaker there confirmed that is was a superb vintage; the grapes were indeed looking very healthy.

rivera-grapes rivera-tanks rivera-casks rivera-tasting

The tour was followed by a tasting and a trip to Casteldelmonte a world heritage site. After that there was no class so we had the rest of the day off.

We went to Otranto to look at the cathedral and then supper at our usual haunt - Centro Storico in Locorotondo.

castel-del-monte harbour

A fuller set of Day 5 photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8179454@N02/sets/72157602268888317/

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007: Cookery School Day 4

Day 4 started with a trip to a local pasta factory then back to Truddhi to make the real thing.

pasta-factory real-pasta-1 real-pasta-2 real-pasta-3

Filled pasta was not on the original syllabus as it is not typical of southern Italian cuisine but Mino kindly went off course to enable us have a go.

Mary, Mark, Zia and Mino
Mary, Mark, Zia and Mino

We also learnt how to open mussels for a stuffed mussel dish.


A fuller set of Day 4 photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8179454@N02/sets/72157602268602759/

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: Cookery School Day 3

Day 3 started with two field trips:

First stop the Cantina Del Locorotondo cooperative where the hot August meant the small farmers were already bringing in their grapes. The manager showing us round reckoned that the quality of grapes was the best he had seen in 23 years working there. An early frost kept the number of bunches down, the lack of rain kept the diseases away and the sunshine pushed the ripeness way up. So a brilliant vintage is in the offing.

 grapes-arrive cantina-sociale
[Hover for title, click for larger version]

Second stop Il Frantolio, another cooperative this time of olive growers (often the same small farmers). We learned that you should only ever use extra virgin olive oil. Anything else is oil chemically extracted from the kernels and only of use in things like tinned fish. Do not buy anything other than Extra Virgin!

olive-mill olive-tasting

The afternoon and evening were back to Truddhi to cook and eat amongst other dishes: roast peppers with capers and olives, stuffed aubergines and ricotta tart.

Truddhi Cookery School
Mary at work!


A fuller set of Day 3 photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8179454@N02/sets/72157602241902733/

Sunday, October 07, 2007

BBR Dinner: The Great Wines of Italy, Tuscany vs Piedmont

More eating and drinking...

Lots of top notch wines. I wish I could remember more of the fascinating info from the chat by Chris Pollington, the man knows his stuff.

All I can remember is the Tuscans use the Sangiovese grape and eat beans, the Piedmontese use Nebbiolo and eat rice. The staff would keep topping up my glass and I did not say no often enough. I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the end. Oh dear :-(

2006 Gavi di Gavi, Cru La Maddelena, Roberto Sarotto, Piedmont
Bresaola con Rucola e Parmigiano
(Shaved bresaola with wild rocket & parmesan)
2005 Chianti Classico, 'Rubiolo', Gagliole, Castellina-in-Chianti, Tuscany
Un' selezione di funghi di bosco
(A tasting of Italian mushrooms & funghi)
2001 Barbaresco, Cru Vigna Erte, Cigliuti, Neive, Piedmont
Abbachio a la Romana con polenta e pomodorini secchi
(Roast lamb with rosemary, polenta & cotifit tomatoes)
1994 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Ugolaia, Lisini, Tuscany
2000 Barolo, Cru Monprivato, Giuseppe Mascarello, Castiglione Falletto, Piedmont
(cheese) Pecorino
2004 IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale, Pecchia, Gagliole, Castellina-in-Chianti, Tuscany
Torta di mele con gelato di Mascarpone
(Apple tarte fine with Mascarpone ice cream)
2005 Moscato d'Asti, Bass Tuba, Bava, Piedmont
Berrys' selected coffee & chocolate

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007: Cookery School Day 2

Mino returns and Day 2 sets the pattern for the rest of the week: a excursion in the morning, lunch, class from 4 till 7:30, dinner at 8 for whoever was about. Usually us two, Carole and Mino, their friend Mair from Wales, Zia, and a couple of paying guests from the Truddhi holiday apartments where the lessons are held.

Truddhi Cookery School
Truddhi Cookery School

We visited a diary where they made mozzerella, all by hand from local milk. What amazed me was that all the mozzarella, even the little ones are all knotted by hand - you couldn't make it up!

knotting-mozzarella orecchietti stuffed-rabbit bread-butter-pudding
[Hover for title, click for larger version]

Then we made fava bean and chicory, orecchietti, stuffed rabbit and Mino's version of bread and butter pudding. This day we mostly watched and helped a little. As the week progressed we got more and more hands-on which was better. Partly at our insistence and partly (I am guessing) that Mino realised we were able cooks.

A fuller set of Day 2 photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8179454@N02/sets/72157602209424622/

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007: Cookery School Starts

Sunday was the start of the cookery school. Mino was in Wales at a food expo promoting Puglian food so we had Sunday lunch at his sister Zia's house. She fired up the pizza oven and we did a number of flour based dishes: focaccia, orecchietti, something else and then a tiedda (hotpot) of chicken and potatoes.

Zia and a forno a legno (wood burning oven)

It was all conducted in Italian as Zia has very little English which was good fun. Then we sat down with her family for Sunday lunch - it was a privilege to be invited into her home and family.

Zia and Mino also appeared on the BBC series "Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escape" in the same Puglian episode as Rosa:

Zia, Rick Stein and Mino Maggi *

This was where the rest of the course was held. More tomorrow...

* Buy the book from Amazon

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007: Trullo Azzurro Guest Book

We were reluctant to offer Trullo Azzurro for rent until we had the boiler fixed (see "A new boiler for Trullo Azzurro").

When we did open it up for booking via http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/ we were pleasantly surprised to get five bookings (plus one via a colleague). Plus we already have a booking for next year!

One couple were there when we arrived and raved about the place. After they left we read the guest book and it brought home to me the impact the place has on first time visitors. We have got so used to it we forget what an impression it makes. The comments were uniformly glowing. A couple of our guests kindly let us quote from their emails:

"Thank you, we had a wonderful time. We all had a wonderful holiday in a beautiful part of Italy, in a beautiful house. Our teenage girls loved it especially the historic sites (doing GCSE history this year)." Deborah & Roger - Aug 2007.

"Just a quick email to say we had a fantastic time at the trullo. The house was extremely well appointed and to a very high standard - there was nothing else we could have needed. We were nearly seduced into making an offer to the farmer who owns the trullo farm at the top of your hill we loved it so much!" Eleanor & Rick - Sep 2007

Most satisfactory :-)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007: Lunch at Rosa's

We like to get down to our favourite beach side restaurant every trip if we can: La Rotonda Da Rosa down between Savelletri and Torre Canne. Friday it had to be, as weekends are too busy and the next week we were on the cookery course. Rosa is a real character with a cackle of a laugh and greets us like long lost cousins.

At Rosa's with Andrea and Elaine in June 2007

She is now famous having appeared on the BBC series "Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escape". Apparently last week a coach-load of Brits turned up and had their photo's taken with her and hunted autographs. This came as a surprise as she hadn't seen the programme. Mary had the thoughtfulness to get me to burn an extra DVD to give Rosa as a 'regalo' (present). Here is a screen grab with her in:

Rosa cooks ricci (sea urchin) with pasta for Rick Stein *

Weird to see someone you know on the telly!

* From Episode 3 - Buy the book from Amazon

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Birthday cake 2007

We flew out to Italy on my birthday (55 if you really want to know). My mother had given me this cake on the Sunday before we left. Very delicious but not enough time to eat it all so my colleagues at work rallied round and helped polish it off.

chocolate cake

We went out for a birthday meal in "U'curdunn", the best restaurant in the locality along with (Italian) neighbours Chris and John and a couple of their friends

What was even better was that we have discovered a local taxi firm i.e. Francesco, so I was able to drink as well as eat :-)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Loire Wine Tasting at Charteris Wine Society

Another fine wine tasting at the Charteris Wine Society excellently chosen by Charles and co-presented by Jeremy. In fact, I would say, their best yet. A good wine tasting has a theme and structure, this had several:

  • Firstly of course the river. A tour upstream and then back down showing the river's wide range of grapes and styles.
  • Secondly the "dinner party" sequence: dry 'aperitif' white, full 'food' white, light red, full bodied red, sweet white (but no room for the sweet red).
  • Thirdly several wines were in pairs to allow a compare-and-contrast learning.
  • Fourthly all bar one readily available from the same merchant (The Wine Society) thus showing the Society to advantage.
The wines - grape variety:
  • Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Le Clos du Château L'Oiselinière, 2002 (Chéreau-Carré) - muscadet
  • Savennières, L'Enclos, 2004 (Eric Morgat) - chenin blanc
  • Coteaux du Giennois, Domaine de Villargeau, 2006 (Marc Thibault) - sauvignon blanc
  • Pouilly-Fumé, Château de Tracy, 2004 - sauvignon blanc
  • Sancerre Rosé, Domaine Serge Laloue, 2006 - pinot noir
  • Côte Roannaise, Vieilles Vignes, 2006 (Sérol) - gamay
  • St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Les Rouillères, 2005 (Frédéric Mabileau) - cabernet franc
  • Chinon, Domain du Raifault, "Le Villy", Cuvee Prestige, 1995 - cabernet franc
  • Coteaux de la Loire, Moelleux, Vieille Sève, 2004 (Alain Boré) - chenin blanc
  • Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, Moelleux, 1989 (Huet) - chenin blanc

And what did I learn?

  • The Loire produces an extraordinary range of wines.
  • The Gamay grape used to be one of my favorites. Moulin a Vent was one of the wines that moved me into red. But now it has dropped off my radar as a wine of choice.
  • Rose wine I have always said goes well with Salad Nicoise and Seafood paella. Now I will add Sushi to the list (after I have given it a try). And this rose is a particularly girlie pink colour.
  • My tastes are predictable. Mary wrote on her list "Mark will like this" against the St Nicolas de Bourgueil. How right she was - jammy and full of fruit.
  • In the sweetie shoot-out the less obvious but better wine did win. The Coteaux de la Loire was sweet and enjoyable but the Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, Moelleux was a far subtler and more complex wine. Quality will out, in the end.