It’s going to be another list-post because I can hardly remember what I did this morning, let alone the past four days! There is just too much going on here, I’d have to carry a notebook around to keep track of everything, and even that would be difficult! I left you last time with the idea that I would have a relaxing weekend and do some sight-seeing in Urbino. So I’ll start with that. But before I do, Suzie has sent me the duck pictures and so I will be posting them in the original duck post, after this is done, in case you want to go back and have a quick look-see. It’s up to you ;). You might not see me the same way after.
1. We went sight-seeing in Urbino on Saturday. We were meant to set off around 9am so we could catch the bus from Montevecchio to Urbino, but the sheep went missing (dun dun dun) so we couldn’t leave until Phelan found them. He did, high up in the hills munching on grass. Those sheep. Ay yi yi – always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Although in this case, it was true. So he finally got back and we took off for Montevecchio. I know it sounds like we were in a spaceship, ‘took off’ but the land rover Phelan drives might as well be. When we got to Montevecchio, Suzie asked another bus driver where and when the bus to Urbino would be and was told at 10:10 up on the road. It was ten just then so we thought it was perfect timing. Not the case. Fran and I walked up to the road to wait for a bus, only to discover the next bus wasn’t until 11. No big deal, we passed the time no problems at all and 2 hours into our trip, we finally had a bus to Urbino. Saturday is market day in Urbino, which means they set up a huge outdoor mercato with people selling clothes, vegetables, fruits, fish, kitchen appliances, jewelry, and so many other things I can’t remember. For those of you in Columbus, it’s a classier version of the Columbus sale. For those of you in DC it’s a less uppity version of Eastern Market. Anyway, you get the picture. Fran and I walked around admiring second hand clothing kiosks (from which I bought a hat – it’s featured in the pictures :)), bread kiosks, fruit markets, and cheese counters. Things we purchased:
a. one lavender hat
b. one knit scarf
c. one point five loaves of focaccia
d. carrots & walnuts for a carrot cake
e. two enormous pears
f. fried fish/calamari/shrimp served in a paper cone
I think that might have been it for the mercato purchasing. If I’ve forgotten something, I’ll add it later. The weather was very drizzly and gross, but not bad enough to keep us from hunting for a grocery to pick up other ingredients for our carrot cake, and chocolates for sanity. Okay okay, the chocolate might not have been necessary and sanity isn’t really an issue here but I WANTED THEM. And since I’m an adult I get to make decisions for myself. And my decision was two bars of chocolate with hazelnuts. After we purchased all the goods, we headed to the Ducale Palazzo (Ducale’s palace) the largest one in Italy. It was HUGE! And very elegant. And very cheap – student fee was 2.50! Fran and I started out without a map and sort of just tried to guess what each room was for. Then decided to grab a map and turns out we guessed fairly closely. Apparently Ferdinand had a thing for horses, so all of the entrances were huge in height because he would ride his horses right into his apartment (a silly word for ten huge rooms where you slept and thought and looked at yourself in mirrors and were kept warm by fireplaces the size of my bedroom in my last apartment. Cringe!). There was also a creepy room with heads adorned all over the ceiling and walls. You’ll see a picture of me being creeped out by the room. There’s some of the fireplaces and basement too.
After the Ducale palace we hunted down this little church named “San Giovanni” something or other, to look at the beautiful fresco (the only one worth looking at in Urbino according to Phe and Suzie) and paid the same amount to look at one tiny room. Yes the fresco was wonderful and extremely detailed, but for 2.50 we saw the ENTIRE Ducale palace. There was a really salty Italian couple giving me dirty looks for rustling the plastic walnut bag and interrupting their peaceful mm hmming, so that might have made the 2.50 seem a bit more outrageous. Check out the pictures though, the fresco really was beautiful.
THEN we were on a hunt for gelato, but quickly decided it would be gelato to go since we weren’t sure when the next bus back to Montevecchio would be so that’s why there are two very blurry pictures of us eating gelato. These things happen when gelato and walking are involved. Mine was nutella with mascarpone cheese. Yum. We arrived back at the Black’s farm to find a roasted duck (one we killed, plucked, and gutted ourselves just a little over a week before) and a large bottle of wine with an even larger warning sign on it. I think the bottle was originally grain alcohol, hence the warning, because though the wine was strong (as it will be made by a local Mondaino-ian) it certainly wasn’t deadly. In small doses. OH and I forgot I bought a bottle of Barbera wine so that they could taste what grapes I had been working with at my last farms. Basil knew it well since he was in the Piemonte region all summer, but Suzie and Phelan never seemed to have had it before. That’s what happens when you live in a country where the wine from down the road is some of the best wine you can buy. Duck is surprisingly tasty and what is even more surprising is how delicious duck liver is. It’s rich and earthy tender little morsels. Yum. That was Saturday.
2. I forgot to mention, Thursday night, Suzie and Phelan headed up to a friend’s home for dinner so we were left to cook ourselves some excellent sausages Suzie brought us. She instructed us to just cook them over the fire and then was gone. However, there were no roasting forks or anything to hold them over the fire with. You’d think we would just cook them on the stove in that case, but what fun would that be? So we put them on some regular and serving forks and Fran propped them up using some wood pieces and an iron griddle. It took a bit more time, but I wouldn’t trade the difficulty for how much more delicious they tasted after being cooked over a fire. Then again, I wasn’t the one tending them. I have a feeling Fran feels the same way though. Suzie and Basil just laughed at us later when we told them how we cooked them.
3. Sunday I slept in. The clocks turned back here so I got an extra hour plus the few I’d already overslept. Glorious. I woke up and put on running shorts fully intending a run since it was a glorious and warm day, but ended up just relaxing in the apartment. In the afternoon Fran and I began the carrot-cake and spent the rest of the evening baking. I even made some of that chocolate crack since it’s such a simple dessert but always impresses people.
The Germans arrived around six and so we headed to the other house for German beers and brats. Both were superb and I ate way more brats that I would normally because let’s be real, when is the next time I’m going to be offered authentic German brats? Cooked by a lovely German man named Michael? Yea. We had roasted potatoes and the carrot cake for dessert which was an epic success. So much so that we have now become the official bakers. I can’t complain! Phelan quickly enlisted us to bake a pumpkin pie for their local communist’s club’s Halloween party. I’ll explain later.
I was quite tired but also got a bit of time to chat with the family on Sunday, and Kara and Michael and Mer. We called it an early night and woke early Monday to start up work again. Another WWOOFer arrived from Vienna in the morning. Christian, is an English gentleman that has been living in Vienna for the past ten years working as a radio journalist. He’s done all sorts of amazing things that I’ll share with you when I find more time!
4. On Monday Fran, Christian and I weeded the embankment that separates the vineyard from the garden. It’s very steep and so we were just sort of laying on the incline hacking away at the fines and other absurd overgrowths, including a tree that produces date-like fruit with ENORMOUS thorns. Ouch. The Germans who are: Michael, Christian (there are two), Mari, Charlotte, and Marco, worked on making more wood and piling it into an amazing woodpile. Lunch was cooked in a HUGE pot outside, which you’ll see pictures of with Phelan, who was trying to heat it faster with the blow torch. Haha. Some things are the same in any culture.
Here is us at lunch out on the veranda/terrace:
After lunch we discovered the pumpkin that Phe wanted pumpkin pie from, in our kitchen on the table. Haha, he sneaked it in after lunch with no instructions, but left us with a little cookbook on the page of a pumpkin pie with nuts recipe. Subtle. Of course, challenge accepted, Fran and I started to work on cutting up the pumpkin and scooping out the seeds and flesh. Now I know a couple of posts back I had a big whine about the lack of pumpkin treats here. And FINALLY! A pumpkin to make into a sweet treat! But I don’t like pumpkin pie. It’s probably my least favorite of all desserts. This was before I tasted this pumpkin pie, or ‘pah’ as we say it back home. It was SO DELICIOUS and nothing like the boring old pumpkin pahs made from canned pumpkin. I’ll add the recipe when I’ve got a chance. Please see the pictures. It was gurgling and gooey when it came out of the oven, and I JUST KNEW it would be the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever tasted. Bar none. And Grammy I channeled you with the little leaves I made to go on top J. Fran generally uses moscavado sugar, which has been amazingly creamy in action, so I’m probably never going back. And yes, we put the pumpkin pie dishes into the hallowed out pumpkin halves. Classssy.
At this point Phe comes in, looks at the pie, oohhs and ahhhs and then tells us we’re leaving in an hour to go to their bar’s private party. He walks out and comes back 45 minutes later with some masks and face paint. My mask was a golden sparrow. There will be pictures of the party when I get them from Fran.
I have NEVER been to a party like this before. Everyone was dressed up and there were people of all ages: children, young adults, teenagers, adults. There was an excellent food spread and I think each person brought a little something to snack on. The pumpkin pie was a hit, obviously, and I sampled some amazing dolce focaccia and pizza.
An hour in and we’re all on the dance floor, dancing to the most unusual combination of songs. There was Sweet Dreams by the Arythmics, You Gotta Fight by the Beastie Boys, Ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog by Elvis Presley, Baba O’Riley by the Who and the list goes on and on. Pop, rock, rap, reggae, techno, there was at least a song in every genre. Michael grabbed Fran during some pop song I can’t remember and waltzed with her (see the pictures).
It was so much fun and when we were all sweaty and out of breath we took a quick breather and headed right back to the dance floor to boogie down. It was one of those moments in time where you just stop and think ‘How did I get here? Dancing like I’m at a rave to Baba O’Riley screaming all the words with twenty Italians and a few English people?’ It was amazing and definitely one of the best Halloween’s I’ve had. Phe dressed as a ghost and was break-dancing on the floor. So much fun!
5. I think I’m on five. I do this every time! Tuesday I planted cacti along the pig pen fence, and then built the electric fence for when the piglet comes. In the afternoon we weeded the artichokes which is way more difficult than it sounds. There is this bamboo-like grass with really long roots that will grow right through the vegetables so you have to overturn the earth to pull them out. I napped most of last night since it’s been a tiring few days here, and then we had dinner at Suzie and Phe’s other house where the Germans are staying.
6. I THINK I’M CAUGHT UP! Hopefully I do a second post tonight to make sure I’m as caught up as possible. Especially since we’ll be making apple crumble for tonight and I want to post pictures and recipes!
Here’s the gallery of Urbino pictures, etc!
Now I’m going to have a little sleep before we get back out to work this afternoon. I’ve built a fabulous woodpile I must show you all :).