Friday, April 15, 2011

6/4/2 Herbal liqueur

Here's another of the liqueurs that I prepare for guests at Valle Nuova.This is a good herbal liqueur, not sweet that is made with herbs that can be found at Valle Nuova (wild or in our herb-garden) and spices that are easily found in any kitchen.
6 basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum)
6 sage leaves (Salvia officinalis)
6 laurel/bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)
6 mint leaves (Mentha) any variety (I use Mentha aquatica)
6 lemon leaves (Citrus limon)
6 lemon verbena leaves (Aloysia citrodora)
6 cloves (Eugenia caryophyllata)
6 cm long rosemary sprig (Rosmarinus officinalis)
4 juniper berries (Juniperus communis)
4 pinches of tea leaves
4 pinches of dry camomille flowers (Matricaria recutita)
2 pinches of ground nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
2 pinches of saffron (Crocus sativus)

1 litre 95% alcohol

1 litre water
300 gr sugar
Mix the herbs and spices and alcohol and let rest in a cool and dark place for 1 week. Filter twice using a cloth or paper filter.
Mix the sugar and water in a pan, let boil for 2 minutes and let cool. Mix the syrup and the alcohol.
Bottle and let rest for 3 months before drinking it.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Marco's Way: Food and Wine tours in Le Marche

This is an important time of the year for wine producers, it's pruning time and pruning is basic if you want good quality grapes and thus good quality wine.
I have been willing to participate into one of Marco's food and wine tours for a long time, and a few days ago the occasion arose.
We started visiting Cantina Luigi Giusti that stands in the Lacrima di Morro d'Alba d.o.c. area (do not guess that this wine has something to do with Alba, Piedmont and read this article for more information).
The Lacrima is a very unusual wine that is only produced in Le Marche, after Luigi Giusti showed us how they prune the vines and explained why, the tasting began! 
We tasted different wines all made with the same grapes including 2 beautiful Rosé and Vino di Visciole (a yummy dessert wine made with red wine and sour cherries).
The second visit was Caseificio Piandelmedico in Jesi, they produce cow and buffalo cheeses including a beautiful mozzarella and more unusual buffalo blue cheese and taleggio style cheese. They are so good that I didn't even think about taking a picture!
After a good lunch prepared specially for us, accompained by wines from different cantine of Le Marche, at Antiche cantine del Porticello in Jesi we headed to the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi d.o.c. area.
Vallerosa Bonci farm produce some of the most awarded Verdicchio wines. We tried classical and excellent spumante and also a great (and not too sweet) Verdicchio Passito.
I normally prefer red wines but I really enjoyed those Verdicchios!
The last cantina that we visited is located in the Conero Natural Park near Ancona and produces mostly Rosso Conero wine: Moroder is probably one of the best known wineries in Le Marche but it's still a family business and visiting it with Marco (who worked here years ago) is perfect,  actually everywhere we went we felt informally welcome, none of the officiality and stiffness, just people that show their love for what they do.
We visited the beautiful old and new cellar and tasted some wines sitting outside, chatting and drinking until sunset. 
Farms in Le Marche are family run, not big businesses, the wineries of Le Marche produce some very fine wines, most of them still little known, but very interesting.
With Marco you have the possibility to get to know people, farms, wines and other typical products (not only cheese but honey, extra vergin olive oil) that would be difficult to reach without his kowledge of the area and the people. 
Marco is a wine and olive oil producer himself, loves and knows Le Marche and speaks good English (he's been living in the UK and Australia for a long time) and he's the perfect person to show the best of Le Marche wines to experts and novices alike.
Visit his webpage for more information about the tours and have a look at the sunset that he prepared to finish our day with him! :)