Category Archives: Random Thoughts

GROWING VALUABLE FOOD

March 24, 2020

Today am sitting at home in the midst of a rainstorm. Yesterday I worked in the yard, pruning, cutting, digging, feeding citrus and planting more seeds. All with the intention of growing food for my family and my Farm.

I have been corresponding with an Italian Physician friend in Vancouver, Canada, and someone who is as passionate as I am about olive oil. He said something so important, “ grow valuable food”. People will need this. He struck an important cord, that in the midst of isolation, I had put aside. I was worried about my family, my staff, and my business. But I am in the business of growing food, good food and we shall continue to do so even in this virus isolation.

My olive trees are growing, buds of olive flower are beginning to appear. Our fruit trees are laden with blossoms. The citrus is prolific and the more we harvest, to make jams and jellies, the more blossoms pop out. We have juiced lemons to prepare for Lavender Lemonade at Lavender Weekend in June. We have frozen Blood Orange Juice for drinks. I still have some pomegranate juice to make jelly and ices for the summer. We have to think ahead, even in the midst of worry.

In the greenhouse, little starts are strong and happy. Peppers, beans, tomatoes and flowers for beauty. Nick, Able and EJ just make everything grow. I have some eggplant starts at home that are just thinking of popping out. Today I sent to the Farm, five 7 foot tall Chayote plants. They were very near to taking over my kitchen. They are for Chayote, apple, and lemon salad this summer.

Early this morning I was reading the Smithsonian Magazine, and National Geographic and in sane times this makes sense but today even more.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
Maya Angelou

If you are safe at home, take the time for quiet to center your soul. Look forward to better times. Thank the health care staff for being there and for us not being there.

Take pleasure in these pictures that will help us all look forward and grow valuable food for everyone.

Wash your hands stay safe.

I will keep everyone posted on the “growth” at the Farm at IL Fiorello.

Ciao

Ann

 

IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPES , FOLKLORE AND FACTS

Even though IL Fiorello is Italian and makes olive oil, part of my family, on my Mother’s side is Irish, through and through.

My mother believed in the “little people” and I heard a wonderful piece of music on the way home last night, called Ode to the Fairies of Ireland. It brought back lots of memories. Oh yes and her favorite song was, “Oh Danny Boy” where she would sign along and cry. She also always said that the best Irish party was a good old fashioned Irish wake. And in my experience that is so very true. A time to celebrate.

I was always told that the cross on the top of Irish Soda Bread was to symbolize the Catholic faith of Ireland, and the Gaelic Cross. Some say it kept the Devil out, but that is what a cross is supposed to do also.

Turns out that is true but more importantly, it helps in the baking of the bread. On St. Patrick’s Day we always had brown soda bread and Irish Stew, either lamb or beef or better yet a combination. My Mother said, “Potatoes and point “ meaning that they only had potatoes and no meat, so they pointed to the place where the meat was supposed to be. Hard times indeed. It makes this time of plenty look pretty good, even with COVID –19.

   

 

The shape and the content of the soda bread, is indicative of where you live in Ireland. Also whether you bake or pan fry the bread. I have always baked my soda bread, but maybe it is time to try to fry the bread. My Italian father (and me) loved fried yeast bread, but that will be another delicious blog. The difference of white bread vs brown bread may have had to do with affluence, brown being the coarser bread, and white being the more refined. I bake with half and half, white and brown flour. I have heard that the foam on top of your pint of beer is an excellent leavening agent because of the yeast and sugars in the beer. I truly would rather drink my beer and use baking soda, for the bread, but again maybe it is time to try something new.
There is a new web site, www.TheSocietyofthePreservationofIrishSodaBread.com that is kind of a fun read.

———————————

IRISH SODA BREAD

2 CUPS UNSIFTED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
2 CUPS  WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
4 TABLESPOONS SUGAR
4 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER
1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
1 TEASPOON SALT
6 TABLESPOONS BUTTER SOFTENED
2 CUPS BUTTERMILK

PREHEAT OVER TO 375  ° F

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.
Cut in softened butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Add buttermilk.
Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn out on lightly floured pastry board.
Knead gently until smooth.
Shape into a ball.
Place on silpat  on a cookie sheet.
Press a large floured knife into center of loaf almost through to bottom.
Repeat at right angle to divide loaf into quarters.
Bake 40 minutes until top is golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove to wire rack to cool.
Brush top with milted butter.

Makes 2 loafs

Optional: Cranberries  or Raisins
Soak 1 ½ cups raisins in Irish Whiskey and combine into dough, during the kneading.

—————————

Use the traditional three leaf clover for St. Patrick’s day. It represents the holy trinity and the number three is special in Ireland. Number “3” is also present on other Celtic Symbols such as the “Triskelion”, the “Triquetra” , The “Three Rays” of the Druidic Symbol, This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

ENJOY THE IRISH SODA BREAD

AND

REMEMBER WASH YOUR HANDS

CIAO,

ANN

 

PI DAY RECIPE FROM IL FIORELLO

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART WITH ST. GEORGE’S RASPBERRY LIQUOR

I had a fantastic visit and tasting at St. George’s Distillery in Alameda. Their delicious Raspberry Liquor was the impetus for my Pi Day entry at IL Fiorello. So I wanted to share it with all of you.

The day started well , with all four of us well fortified with a great lunch by Scolari’s At The Point. A great eatery situated right on San Francisco bay, with lovely views of the city scape of San Francisco. We had a lovely time, and the garlic fries hit the spot. Mark and I, Chef Glo and Marlon, her wonderful husband, sat in the sunshine and relaxed. A real treat for the four of us together. We then trooped over to St. Georges Distillery.

We were greeted at the door, like old friends, and directed to the bar. Our hostess did a very good job discussing the products, the uses of their products and the flavor profiles. Well done! As someone who is very critical of presentations I would go back tomorrow. I would really recommend the tasting and the tour, which Chef Glo has done but we did not have time for on this visit.

The Raspberry Liquor was the inspiration to take a great recipe from www.finecooking.com, adapt it to my way of baking, and then push it over the top with the liquor. I hope you enjoy this as much as our staff did at the IL Fiorello Pi Day extravaganza.

Raspberry-Chocolate Tart with St. George’s Raspberry Liquor

Ingredients

Vegetable oil for the pan
40– 50 gingersnaps (1 1/2 cups finely ground)
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
4 cups fresh raspberries
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
(I used half and half because I did not want to go to the store again)
St. George’s raspberry liquor (5 tablespoons in all)
2 tablespoons for the crust
2 tablespoons for the ganache
1 tablespoon for the puree berries
Pinch of salt

Method

Prepare all the ingredients.
Heat the oven to 325 ° F with a rack in the middle of the oven
Oil the sides and bottom of a 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Grind the gingersnaps until very fine. Use a food processor for best results.
  3. Add the melted butter and 2 tbsp. of the liquor to the crushed gingersnaps and combine well.
  4. Press the ginger snap mixture into the sides and bottom of the oiled tart pan.
  5. Set the pan on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to chill and firm up.
  6. Bake the tart crust on the baking sheet until fragrant about 15 minutes.
  7. Cool the crust.
  8. Meanwhile, pass 1 cup of the berries through a food mill fitted with a fine disk or force them through a fine sieve, mashing with a wooden spoon.
  9. Transfer into a medium bowl.
  10. You should have about 1/2 cup of the puree.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of the liquor to the berries and discard the seeds. 
  12. Set aside.

GANACHE

  1. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat the cream until just boiling.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.
  4. Wisk to blend.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of the St. George’s Raspberry Liquor.
  6. Wisk again to blend.
  7. Stir in the Raspberry Puree.
  8. Add the salt.

Finishing

  1. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell
  2. Refrigerate until the ganache is fairly firm. About one hour
  3. Arrange the remaining raspberries on the top

Liberally adapted from www.finecooking.com with great thanks and respect.

Raspberry Tart

Raspberry Liquor from St. Georges Distilling in Alameda

Raspberry Liquor

FOOD AS THE BEST MEDICINE

March 2020

In the Spring all thoughts turn to green: green trees, green grass, weeds, and green vegetables. This picture says it all. Eat well and be well. Your Pharmacy is your grocery store and your garden. Get out in the fresh air, take a walk. Watch less television and most definitely less computer/phone time.

We grow vegetables in our garden to sustain our kitchen. Eat well and be well. Our chickens give us eggs and friendship. Get out of the house. My Irish Grandmother said, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” I guess that is the same as, “Thou art dust”. So stop dusting and get outside and dig in the dirt.

At our Farm, the radishes are coming up. Delicious little green bites to put into salads. A harbinger of roasted radishes to come on our tasting plates. The fava beans are planted. And, a garden miracle, our sunflowers are not only sprouting but blooming. They are in a little protected spot, but this is way too early for them to be awake.

The fig tree tips are swelling and turning green, a clear sign of Spring.
I have spring fever and a longing for green things from the garden.

Here is some direction from the US FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION with a little license of my own words from the Farm at IL Fiorello.

  1. BUY FOOD WITH THOUGHT—NOT PREPACKAGED
  2. COOK FOOD WITH CARE
  3. USE MORE VEGETABLES AND WHOLE GRAINS AND BEANS
  4. USE LESS MEAT AND LESS ANIMAL FATS
  5. BUY LOCAL FOODS—ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE
  6. SERVE ENOUGH—SUSTAIN YOUR LIFE
  7. USE WHAT IS LEFT
  8. DO NOT WASTE FOODS
  9. ENJOY FOOD AND FAMILY

REF: MENUS OF CHANGE HARVARD MED AND CIA

John Stanton, PhD, is a professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, he says that “ taste is the leading reason to buy food.” So buy food that tastes good and is healthy! Enjoy the family meal together. Family and good food is important.

In a review article, Mary Stanton PhD and Selina Wang PhD, looked at the literature on Olive Oil as medicine. (Published by UC Davis Olive Center 2015). The review suggested that the use of two tablespoons of olive oil may lower blood pressure. My addition is always use certified extra virgin olive oil and with healthy food and together this may lower blood pressure.

These are the basic tenets of the Mediterranean diet; healthy food, exercise, and extra virgin olive oil. This premise is supported by more and more research. Something we have known for many thousands of years. Farm to table has been around for a very long time. It is good that we are recognizing the importance of food as medicine.

In practicality good healthy food is good medicine. Now add your family and friends and you have a winning combination.

Eat from the garden, eat from the soil, plant based consumption is a goal for us all.

Hippocrates (born c. 460 bce, died c. 375 bce)
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food.”

Ciao,
Ann

 

Sunflowers and Nasturtiums in March
Our Farm is Blooming with edible flowers and plants

Flowers

CHAYOTE SPROUTS—HARDLY SPROUTS
WE CAN SEE THEM GROWING EVERY HOUR
WAITING FOR WARM WEATHER TO PLANT
USE IN SALADS AND STEWS

Chayote

 

THE MOST WONDERFUL PICTURE FROM AN ITALIAN BLOG
FARMACIA IN ITALIAN IS PHARMACY
EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMERS

Farmacia

 

EVERYBODY, IT IS TIME TO PRUNE THE OLIVES AND DO IT SOON

March 2020

It is time again to prune the olives – but didn’t I just do that. A whole year has passed so quickly.

Italian Proverb

“Prune each tree so a swallow can fly through the tree without touching its wings.”

Get those shears sharpened. Clean the blades, Grab a good hat, a flexible pair of gloves, and solid and supportive work shoes.

Don’t forget the huge flask of water.

Go to work –and hard work it is but really good work.

2016 was a good fruit set year and we pruned

2017 was bad – devastating fruit set year and we pruned

2018 was a great fruit set year and we pruned

2019 was a good set year and we are pruning right now.

Get my drift?  We prune every year.

Some thoughts on pruning.

  • Never prune more than 1/3 of the tree. Each year is different so prune to the blossom set of the previous year. Heavy set prune heavy, light set prune light.  We understand that olives are on a cyclical production cycle so pruning should follow that pattern.
  • Cut out the dead wood in the center of the tree, to open up the canopy to provide light and air to the center of the tree. To encourage the tree to grow, add compost, fertilizer and water. Watch the trees respond with healthy growth. Prune Olive trees each year to direct growth.
  • Prune to a vase or goblet shape. Use central cuts smf lateral cuts, remove suckers, clean the trunks, and lift the skirts. No branches should touch the ground. Top heading for full canopy growth.
  • Use sharp instruments to make clean cuts. Clean your shears daily to prevent transmission of bacteria.  Make your cuts on an angel so if it does happen to rain, no water will accumulate on the cut surfaces.
  • Put up bird boxes so the birds can enjoy your grove and help with the bugs.
  • Pruning is an art. Practice makes perfect. Olive trees are tough and they respond well to care.

Get out there and prune – don’t put it off if you want a better and easier harvest in the Fall.

One tree at a time. Talk to your trees, sing to your trees. Help them grow and thrive. You will be a better grower if you smile in your olive grove.

Get going and remember there is another pruning year next year. Do your best this year and next year will be easier and better.

Ciao,

Ann

Pruning Olive Trees

 

 

WHAT IS GOOD OIL AND WHAT IS BAD OIL

GOOD OIL CURES ALL and BAD OIL MAKES YOU SICK Italian Proverb

What is good oil? Good oil is fresh, new, well stored, bottled in dark bottles, and is extra virgin certified in California; passing both chemistry and taste panel certification.

What is bad oil? An oil that does not pass the certification standards of California. An oil that is rancid or made from bad olives. A bad oil has additives or is adulterated or has herbs that are years old but still says extra virgin on the label.

The more balanced and pungent the better the oil. Varieties of olives matter but the principles are the same, a balance of aroma, fruit, bitterness and pungency. Good oil is good for your heart and your soul.

Each grower has their own thoughts of how to grow olives. Each miller has their own ideas of how to make olive oil depending on their milling equipment and their experience.

We encourage all of our clients and guests to learn the process of how we make our oils. We like to explain the reasons we do what we do with each batch of olives. Each mill is different and unique; each variety of olive poses questions and issues of how to mill correctly. There are many important decisions, more malaxation, less malaxation, time and temperature. An important reality is that beautiful olives make beautiful oil. The fruit is a key factor. Bring us good olives and we can make good oil.

We are looking back at this last milling season and analyzing our milling data for each customer. Time temperature, variety, quality of the olives at the time of delivery. On delivery, we photograph each batch of olives. We document temperatures at arrival time, and they undergo a visual inspection with a rating scale. This data leads us to conclusions about our techniques of milling and events that influence our milling process. Examples are the power outages, time from harvest, ambient temperatures and variety. We try to associate how these variables reflect in the oils we produce. For our clients and for our own oils for IL Fiorello. There is much to consider. This is not a simple process.

The proof is in the oils, and the celebration of an ancient food. As we taste our own oils, we are making decisions about decanting, filtering (more on this in a later blog), and bottling and submission to competitions.

With the competitions ahead, we taste all of our oils; we review the oils chemistry and the results of the master taste panel. We taste again and then try to make good decisions about what oils to send to what competitions.

However, the real reason is to present to our guests the best oil available and prove, by winning competitions, that we compete well on an international scale.

Certify your oil to prove it is extra virgin, use the oil when it is fresh, store the oil properly.
Most importantly enjoy good oil with good food and good people.

I will be writing next about best-by-dates for food and olive oil and food as medicine and medicine as food.

Stay informed. (See examples below)

Ciao,
Ann

Temperature is  a critical  element in making good oil

Fresh olives on deck waiting to be milled on the day of their harvest.

Beautiful olives make beautiful oil

Bad olives make bad oil

Time and temperature are important in making good olive oil
This picture is the end of our milling season.—hence Final.
Temperature is for making co-milled olive oils at seasons end.

FIGS GLORIOUS FIGS

NEVER ENOUGH FOR THOSE WHO LOVE FIGS

ENDLESS RECIPES TO ENJOY THE FALL ABUNDANCE  

I have had many requests for some fantastic delicious and easy ways to preserve and present figs. 

We have 18 fig trees at IL Fiorello. Soon we will be known for figs as well as olives!! We grow a variety of types of figs, Panache, striped green and white, Kadota, creamy white, Mission, large and purple, and Violette, a French variety slightly purple, and Brown Turkey.

2 mission figs -one ripe & one unripe

Mission Figs

Panache figs

Another Panache fig

I always have to protect the figs from our chickens and from the blue jays. I also have a fox family who trains their kits to climb the tree and steal my figs.  Cute, but not so great when you want to grow and make fig everything.  As a concession, they get the bottom and I get the top of the trees.  This morning I found a lovely lady deer bedded down under the canopy of the fig tree. Everyone needs a home.

I have some great recipes for you.  The first recipe is for Francesca’s Figs published by Judy Witt Francini, Davina Cucina. The best Italian blog, web site and food tours.   You can find her at https://divinacucina.com Many more great recipes and travel tips on her blog. If you go to Italy, make sure you take one of her cooking classes.

FIRST *  FRANCESCA’S FIGS

Begin with fresh figs right from the tree. The black figs are Mission and the light colored ones are Kadota. You can use just the mission, or just the kadota or a mixture.

2 kinds of ripe figs

 Then cover with an equal amount of sugar.

sugar on top of figs

Then a layer of very thinly sliced lemons.

sliced lemons on top of sugar and figs

 I happen to like a lot of lemons as it pairs better with the sugar and the figs.

figs & lemons in conserve jars

SECOND * DEHYDRATED FIGS

An alternative to poaching the figs is to dry them in the dehydrator. Dehydrate them whole or sliced.

You can then incorporate the dried figs on charcuterie boards, breads, and make great jams later on in the season. I like fig breads.

THIRD   * FIG AND LEMON JAM

I love to make fig and lemon jam.

Equal weights of figs and thinly sliced lemons.

 NO sugar.

 Cook the lemons strips until translucent add the figs and heat to just boiling.

Remove from heat, put in hot jam jars seal, and water bath for 10 minutes.

My best and most favorite jam.

Serve this jam on the best vanilla ice cream or even better on our Olive Oil Gelato.

A clear winner.

fig and lemon jar in open jars

FOURTH * FIGS AND BACON

Wrap fresh figs in smoked bacon strips and grill.

Nothing better.

Sweet and savory.

FIFTH * FIG IN RED WINE

Cut figs in half and cover with red wine (variety of your choice)

Sprinkle with organic sugar

Allow to steep overnight

Serve with Crème Chantilly or Vanilla Gelato

Make sure you drink the residual red wine.

SIXTH * FIGS ON FLAT BREAD

Just simply cut the fresh figs in quarters.

Slather mascarpone cheese on flatbread.

Add a slice of prosciutto

Drizzle with our Fig and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Enjoy.

figs prosciutto & mascarpone cheese on flatbread

SEVENTH * FROZEN FIGS

When you have too many figs. Just freeze the figs whole.

When you want to use them, carefully slice with a serrated knife.

Use on pizza or desserts.

It takes but minutes to thaw.

 

IL FIORELLO BALSAMIC REDUCTION VINEGARS

The 2019 Central Coast Vinegar Competition

Announces Winners

 

The Central Coast Vinegar Competition (CCVC) is proud to announce the award-winning vinegars from its 6th-annual blind-tasting event, held June 20 at the California Mid-State Fair

Best in Show went to IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit – Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar. The honor came after judges awarded it a Double Gold Medal in the Flavored Class. 

Other Gold Medals:

IL Fiorello’s Blood Orange Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

 Bronze Medal:

IL Fiorello Red Wine Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

Packaging and Design Winners:

Gold: IL Fiorello’s Red Wine Vinegar

Bronze: IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit- Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar

 

Who would have known that our vinegar is that good!  Well the judges at the Central Coast Vinegar Competition sure thought so. Thank you for the honor. I am delighted that the judges enjoy our products. Thank you to the judges for acknowledging our products. Our olive oils did exceptionally well in the competition as well. Gold for Mandarin, Silver for Pendolino, Kaffir Lime and Lemon and Bronze for Bearss Lime.

I love making the Balsamic Vinegar Reductions the California way; our customers love the balance of sweetness and acidity.

As most of you know, balsamic vinegar can really only be made in Modena Italy, in the Reggio Emilia area of Italy. It is a protected product. Very special, very ancient, very very good.  This product has been around for over two millennia. The Romans and Greeks would drink vinegars to help in digestion. Today we enjoy the vinegars for great taste, and great pairing with foods.

When I was in Modena, Italy, I had the privilege of visiting two excellent balsamic vinegar producers, Acetaia La Noce, and Antica Acetaia Villa Bianca. Gracious hosts, wonderful food, and amazing tours with tastings of their Balsamic Vinegars. A long and gracious history of making this incredible product.  It is with this in mind, the respect for the heritage product, that we call ours Balsamic Vinegar Reductions.

WHAT IS BALSAMIC VINEGAR?

Balsamic Vinegar is made of grape must and wine vinegar. Each producer can choose the ratio of ingredients, with a minimum percentage of grape must set at 20%, and at 10% for wine vinegar.

The first step of production is the harvest of Trebianno and Lambrusco grapes. The grape must cooks slowly and carefully, the amount of time is important and each producer is unique. The producer mixes the cooked must with the wine vinegar and transfers it into huge wooden oak barrels. The vinegar then matures for a minimum of 60 days and up to one year.  The process is the conversion of sugars to ethanol by Acetobacter, a yeast bacterium. The process continues with the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid by the acetic acid bacteria. The liquid remains at least 12 years in ageing barrels of different woods. Oak, Chestnut, Cherry, Ash, Juniper, and others that impart flavor and complexity. Each family process is a little different.

Check the label on the bottle of balsamic vinegar that you are buying from the local grocery store. If the ingredient label says red wine vinegar as the first ingredient then that is what it is, red wine vinegar, not balsamic. Often producers will add sugar syrup to make the red wine vinegar more appealing. Be a discriminating purchaser.

At IL Fiorello, we use a young balsamic from Italy, and then in true California tradition, we impart some magic. Each individual batch of balsamic reduction takes over a week to produce, very slowly, very carefully. Then it ages for another year before presenting to our customers. We even have a secret 5-year-old supply, which will be a special Grove Club offering in another 5 years.

Age the Balsamic and use the Extra Virgin Olive Oils immediately.

HOW TO USE IL FIORELLO BALSAMIC

How DO you use this amazing product? Just a few drops will allow the contrast of sweet and savory to push your taste buds right over the top.

  1. Delicious on fresh fruit

Two drops on a watermelon slice

  1. Better on Grilled fruit

Three drops on a grilled apricot or peach

  1. On gelato – our Olive Oil Gelato in particular
  2. On savory foods -a steak just off the grill with Frantoio Olive Oil and our Signature Balsamic Reduction.
  3. In a spritzer with fresh fruit

I served friends Pt Reyes Blue Cheese with the Winter-Fruit, Orange-Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction last evening.  It was really beyond delicious, and we could not stop eating the cheese.

A CHEF’S TASTE

Years ago in Milan, just having arrived in Italy that morning, we were hungry and wanting real honest Italian food. Our hotel directed us right across the street and wandered into a restaurant called The Antique Pig. They presented an amazing Chef’s taste of perfectly toasted warm crostini, topped with a perfectly ripe slice of fresh pear, a perfectly cut slice of Parmesano Reggiano Cheese and three drops of 25 year old balsamic. I have never had a better taste of Italy. Perfect all around. What a welcome. You can try this at home just have the best ingredients and truly enjoying the experience.

This was a memorable way to begin a trip.

What a wonderful thought. Maybe tonight you should try this on the back deck and imagine you are in Italy.

Remember, you do not need much, a few drops to enhance your food.

Enjoy.

Ciao,  Ann

WHAT TO DRINK AT IL FIORELLO DURING THE HOT SUMMER MONTHS

…AND WHAT TO EAT WITH THAT FABULOUS DRINK

BEER

SONOMA SPRINGS KOLSCH

A German style beer with grains and hops imported form Germany. It drinks like a pilsner, super crisp easy to drink. A really great summer beer.
Pairs well with hamburgers and hot dogs on the back porch, or in the front yard or on the veranda.
Try this with grilled chicken. Or right as you come in the front door from a long day on the Farm.

 

Even better……

OLD ENGINE OIL

We first had this in Scotland with great friends. Since we make oil (a different kind) what better beer to have at IL Fiorello. Thick dark chocolatey viscosity. Roasted malt and a creamy mouthfeel.
You just have to try this beer to appreciate how it pairs with BBQ and a cheese plate
My, oh my — so good.
Pic of the beer here

 

WINE

ROSE WINE in France they say AL LA PISCINE (Piscine is swimming pool in French). JUST THINK COOL ! Think ice cubes, think quaffing wine, think back porch, think cool Olive groves and lavender.
Delicious Think French and Fantastic!

ROSE OF GRENACHE A TRIBUTE TO GRACE

Santa Barbara Highlands, 2018
Grape 100 % Grenache
13.1 % alcohol
Tasting notes:
No longer relegated to shadowy bottom shelves, this once maligned pink style of wine can be enjoyed by ladies who lunch and beefcakes alike. Expect nectarines, strawberries, fennel, and a touch of clove and star anise. The Grenache grape lends a generous mouthfeel, which is lifted considerably by a pleasant acidity. A versatile wine, it drinks well by itself or accompanied by a plate of salumi, semi-aged cheese, or citrus tinged ceviche.
Try the Charcuterie Plate at IL Fiorello with a large glass of the just absolutely fantastic, delicious, pink wine.

CHENIN BLANC

Folk Machine 2017
Grape 100% Chenin Blanc
12% alcohol
Vineyard: Merrit Island
Tasting notes:
Lots of mouth-watering acid along with characteristic citrus and mineral dry character.
Vegetable dishes or salads, fish or chicken entrees and rich pungent cheeses (Epoisse is my favorite)
I am going home tonight to make a great summer pasta salad with asparagus, grilled corn, jalapeno olive oil and lots of this great wine to wash it all down.

Care to join me?

Enjoy our cool wines and beers in the hot summer days.

Ciao
Ann

THE COMPASS ROSE AT IL FIORELLO

Many things guide our way at IL Fiorello. The friendship and counsel of good people. The Suisun wind. The Seasons of the olives.

When we began this journey, Mark and I always talked about a compass rose that would guide our way.  We have always wanted a compass rose for IL Fiorello.  To chart our direction to understand the wind and sun in the Suisun Valley.  Mark used a compass when flying jet airplanes to always guide him to his destination, and to bring him home.

 First came a weather vane from Phil Glasshoff. Her name is Athena. She is the symbol of our cooking school, Kitchen in the Grove.  She points the way for us to follow in the footsteps of the ancients.  Athena the Goddess of Peace, War, and Olive Oil.  The city of Athens bears her name. History says that Athena is responsible for the olives at the Parthenon, and the city name of Athens.

After 15 years, our business has grown. We are expanding and growing, both literally and figuratively. When we had the opportunity to cover the back patio and make something lovely, a compass rose was first on the list to design.

Many visitors ask us about the stones and the design.  Of course,  the compass points to the directions of the compass, North, South, East, West and the points in between. 

The symbolism of the design is for our family. The waves for Katie, our Marine Ecologist. The roots for Elisabeth, our wine guru, and for our family with roots in California. The gold is for California, the Golden State. The green is for the Olive Trees that we have planted. The centering and direction for Mark and Ann, the guides for this business.

The history of the compass rose is interesting.  Initially thought to be derived in Italy, a great seafaring nation.  La Rosa dei Venti. The rose of the wind, as usually you describe the origin of the wind.

THE HISTORY OF A COMPASS ROSE

It is not known exactly where or when the formal magnetic compass originated. However, what little, unclear evidence has been found indicates the compass was refined in Italy circa 1200AD. Italy is known for its grand maritime achievements that made them a navigational superpower. It is believed Flavio Gioia first invented the refined compass, and a monument has been erected in Almafi Italy to honor his invention.

The magnetic compass was probably developed by combining the wind rose and the lodestone. From this device it is supposed the compass rose evolved. A wind rose was glued to the top of a lodestone and placed in a covered container of water. Later, oils were used instead of water to stabilize the compass disk from erratic movement. Then, it was found you could magnetize needles, and glue them to the bottom of the disk. These needles had to be re-magnetized periodically to maintain a sufficient level of magnetism.

Uses
Like the wind rose, the compass rose was coincidentally designed in a fashion that resembled the rose flower. It helped to orient a map in the proper reading direction and gave the relative directions for certain points on the chart.

Before compass roses were used on maps, lines were drawn from central points. These lines were hard to follow since there were usually many of these lines intersecting each other on one map. The rose design was typically drawn in a way that made it easier to follow the directional lines.

Having good maps that were easier to read and which were developed using the magnetic compass made it much more efficient to trade for goods in faraway lands, and over the open seas. Direct routes could be established, and navigation in bad weather enabled transportation to take place year round instead of only on fair weather days during the warmer seasons.

About the compass rose design
The four main points (cardinal directions) of the compass were derived from the wind rose: North, East, South, and West. This is also where the four half points originated (ordinal directions). Later, more points were developed to gain more precise bearings, until finally 32 points in total were used. Reciting all 32 points of the compass is called “boxing the compass”. Some believe the numbers of the points start at North; however, it actually starts at East. This is because in relation to Western Europe, Jerusalem was in the east and therefore East was considered the primary direction.

The Flour de Lys is primarily used to indicate north. It was typically made in a very elaborate style and prominently placed so it could easily be distinguished from the other directions during low lighting environments, and ensured maps were oriented correctly when being used.

Red, blue, black, and green were the most common colors used in the compass rose. For the times, these colors were the easiest to distinguish in low light situations when using oil lamps and candles.

Although modern compasses use the names of the eight principal directions (N, NE, E, SE, etc.), older compasses use the traditional Italianate wind names of Medieval origin (Tramontana, Greco, Levante, etc.)

4-point compass roses use only the four “basic winds” or “cardinal directions” (North, East, South, West), with angles of difference at 90°.

8-point compass roses use the eight principal winds—that is, the four cardinal directions (N, E, S, W) plus the four “intercardinal” or “ordinal directions” (NE, SE, SW, NW), at angles of difference of 45°.