The Sensual Seduction of Fall

Mother Nature is giving us one last sensory overload before the dark and quiet of winter. Colors are vibrant but tinged with decay. The air carries the scent of earth and smoke; the smell of sunlight and freshness is relegated to the back of the closet along with t-shirts and sandals.

Our Umbrian fall smells of abundance.

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Picking, harvesting, storing, using olive oil

For centuries, for millennium, olives were picked the same way: grasp a branch and lightly running your fingers downward, gently pluck and pull the olive away from the branch. Let the olives drop into a basket or a well placed net. At the end of the day, your hands feel soft and supple from handling the fruit, and your arms are a little stiff from reaching for the next branch. Picking olives is fun and romantic when it’s a hobby, but far more serious when it’s your life’s work.

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What’s in your olive oil?

Even the most casual wine drinker probably knows the difference between a chardonnay and a white zinfandel. If this is the case, why don’t the most passionate chefs or home cooks know more about their olive oil? Maybe the chefs know a brand name, but do they know what variety of olive is used?

The concept of terroir or terrain or terreno (French-English-Italian) is frequently discussed with grapes and wine; why not with olive oil? If sun, soil and climate affect a grape, it stands to reason it would affect the flavor of an olive and it’s oil.

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Tasting and Talking Italian

Chewy, tasty foccacia. Tomatoes ripened on the vine, direct from the volcanic slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. A crazy good pickled broccoli that only grows in a small area outside of Naples. Great big green olives. Last night, they were all there for the tasting. The good people at Gustiamo are offering Tuesday evening tastings of their imported products at Il Cantuccio bakery at 91 Christopher St in the West Village, NYC.

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From tree to table: Our very own olive oil!

Ripe olives First we hand picked 146.1 kilos of olives. It felt good and right and pagan to be out there harvesting olives…. Now that we had our crates of olives, we still hadn’t solved our olive oil press problem. The picturesque mill we’ve used before wasn’t an option.

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