Sunday, December 16, 2018

Morning Walk, Del Monte Beach

  Ah, the Morning Walk...what's not to love? 
  Well, ok...the 5am wake up call can be annoying, but at least we wake up to (loud) classical music.

  Most of you know that we walk. And walk. And walk. We walk most mornings here in California, and we walk most, but not as many mornings when we are back in Umbria. We also get up later in Umbria, because we can. No job to get to, and all that. 
  Luxury... blissful luxury, to sleep in. Oooooh.

  I've posted many, many times about our 'First Morning Walk' on Live Pronto. Just click on March of any year, and I'll bet you'll find a Morning Walk post. I usually kick off our visits to Umbria with a post on Morning Walks.
  I. Am. So. PREDICTABLE. Sigh. 
  (In a very small voice..."but i like my morning walks...")

  Ok, back to it.
  Here on the Central Coast, California...
  This morning there was an exceptional sunrise over the Monterey Bay area. Man, it was good. I had already decided I wanted to do a post, and had been taking my camera with me in the morning, just in case. This time of year we have fantastic sunrises and sunsets...
  This morning did not disappoint.

  It started out all grey and yellow...

Looking East, of course.

I rounded the uphill corner, and knew something special was happening. My favorite grove of eucalyptus trees were going all pinkish...

True color.

  The sky had burst into color so fast!

  Heading down the hill, the ocean herself was all dressed in pink!

The dunes, too, were aglow.
Honest, it was this color.

  Morning walks can get somewhat dull, but not today. The sky just kept changing things up. Yellows, golds, pinks and oranges...and blue. Can't forget the blue component.

Looking West, over the dunes.

High Drama.

I loved this little "Pink Cloud Party" that showed up all of a sudden!
Dude, if I'm ever in another band..I know what the name will be.


Back down the hill, oceanside, it was an entirely different scene...But still plenty of color, especially cool to see on the surface of the water.

Looking North.

Looking South. Sort of.

Looking right at the waves, crashing, always crashing...

 We walk a couple or three laps up and down this hill.
  (Side note: I'm not supposed to walk on the soft sand. I have a slight Achille's tendon issue, so I have to stay on the bike trail above the beach.)

  On the second lap up the hill, the sky was going golden. That darn sun was coming up yet again.

My favorite trees were now enjoying some sunshine.
We often see Hawky-Hawk perched in this grove, soaking in the first rays of sun.

 Of course, with the sun peeking through the clouds, I had a chance to play with my very own Shadow.
  I loves my Shadow...

Whatcha doing' Shadow? Where ya been...and who with?
Tell all, my dear Shadow...

The reason for my Shadow showing up.
Hello, Sunshine!

Down the hill, the native dune plants looked happy.
Shadow, too.

 Mmmmm. Yummy texture and color.

Oh, Shadow, whatcha doing' now?
And in God's name, whatcha got on??!?

Shadow's photos are always pretty dang good.


The sun headed back behind the clouds that will hopefully bring some rain later this evening.

Come on, Rain! It's your turn!


  We were so grateful to have another Morning Walk.

  Blessed, are we. Blessed are we...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lunch At Osteria Del Teatro, Cortona

  When we are staying in Umbria, we always need to take the short drive to Cortona, in nearby Tuscany. There is a wonderful book/art supply store where Johnny enjoys buying some of the art supplies needed for each visit.

 For me the visit to Cortona means lunch somewhere, usually Dardano, which I've blogged about before. It's our 'go to' place in Cortona, and we do love it (can you say flash fried porcini?). We get into a routine pretty quick, I guess, and we wanted to try someplace different.

  We had been talking to local Panicale restauranteurs, Simone and Lorena (Il Gallo Nel Pozzo), and they said they had enjoyed lunch at Osteria del Teatro, below.

  We have strolled pass this place many times, but have never stopped. It's hard to miss, with the sweet terrace outside, and all the plants, etc. It's always packed, too, so I made a reservation to make certain we could eat outside. It was a very warm September afternoon and there was a nice breeze.   Perfection.

  We were brought menus, ordered water and settled down to decide. I spied a couple of interesting starters, and after making certain they were vegetarian, we ordered. 
  The waiter was a trip...old school with white gloves. It sort of put me off at first, but he was a true professional, taking his job seriously, while still being fun to work with. 

  After ordering our starters and main dishes, we found a nice wine to try.
  Now it was time to sit back and indulge.

A beautiful way to start our meal...

Eggplant 'tortino'' with burrata cream and tomato with red pepper puree.
Packed with flavor and texture. I didn't want to share, but I did...

Johnny chose ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers, baked
then served with a fresh pea and basil purée. So glad Johnny wanted to share!

We slowly enjoyed sipping whilst eating, of course.
I almost forgot to take a photo of this wine.
We love a good Ribolla Gialla, and this was perfect, chilled, on a warm day.

  As we enjoyed the great people watching, the kitchen was busy working on our pasta course...

Johnny picked buratta stuffed pasta with parmesan cream and truffles.
These are called cappellacci, 'little hats'. Very good, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

I couldn't resist the ravioli stuffed with pecorino and pear.
Again, so glad we are good about sharing!
These two really complimented each other, as well.


  As vegetarians, we sometimes order 'contorni' (vegetable side dishes) as our next course. Most often, we just get pasta and share a veg...on this day, we splurged and ordered lots.
  It all sounded so good!

Onions roasted slowly in their own juices.

The grilled vegetables were quite good, and included leeks and radicchio.

  To end this most delicious meal, we shared a tiramisu. I loved this updated version!

Good flavors of espresso, mascarpone and chocolate.
It all came through.

We were in dire need of a long walk...better yet, a long nap...
The walk won out, but the nap was soon to follow!

Try Osteria del Teatro next time you want to splurge a bit in Cortona!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Last Morning Walk, Umbria 2018

  Well, it's late...almost midnight...and I wanted to post this tonight because we leave Umbria tomorrow to head back to California.
  Yesterday the weather was brutal, but we were lucky to get in a last morning walk today. 
  These are just some highlights of the walk. 
  Beautiful scenes after the massive rain and winds...

Everyone who lives here knows this place...

The view of the valley below town.

Our walk starts and ends here...

Johnny checking out the scene.

A 'Caki" tree. We call them persimmons.

It was lovely light this morning.

The weather was perfect for a walk.

I love the early morning light on the olive trees...

Johnny is a happy guy, enjoying the colors of autumn.

A favorite scene...

More autumn color.

Heading back up the hill...

We'll be back before we know it!
Ciao, Umbria..See you soon...!

October Rain Storm

  And then sometimes it's like this...

Friday, October 26, 2018

Olive Harvest At The Nut

  All around the area we stay in here in Umbria, you can see and hear the olive harvest going on. 
  For the last two weeks or so, it's gotten busy. We watch trailers full of olives go by, on the way to the mill...we watch folks picking by hand or machine...young and old. It's fascinating!

  Here at The Nut, we had a long, hard day of picking ourselves. Fifteen trees in about seven hours. Carlo our landlord, Johnny and I worked our fannies off! There were moments when I wanted to call it a day and quit, but we just pushed on until sunset. 

  First, you have to drag these massive nets and arrange them under the trees to catch all the olives...

Me on one end, Carlo on the other...

  Once the nets are laid, we started picking. Johnny and Carlo took turns with the electric 'shaking machine'....I just picked by hand or with  rastrello, the small stiff hand rake you comb through the branches. 

 It was a lot of hard work, with some frustrating moments, but tons of fun, too.

Carlo with the shaking machine.

Johnny with the rastrello. See all the olives in the net?

Johnny taking his turn with the shaking machine.
I tried, but quickly realized it would not be good for my neck or shoulders!

Go, Johnny, GO!

Watching the guys work from the terrace after lunch.
Then back to it for me, too.

In the end, we had ten or eleven crates full.

A couple of days later, we met Carlo at the local mill to watch the olives get mashed and turned into oil. I'm so glad we saw this part of the process!
  We were in line to have ours done at about eight o'clock at night. It's a busy time at the mill, and they run very late, trying to get everyone's oil done asap.

The mashing machine. It spins around, squishing the olives into a paste.
Then the paste is run through a machine that gets all the excess water out.
Centrifuge, I am told.

Next, we watched as our oil slowly came out!

Carlo was so happy to fill his beautiful container!

It smelled so good in there!

Pure 'Green Gold"!

It was a pretty good haul, I think.

2018 oil tucked away to be enjoyed for the next year.