Archives for posts with tag: foraging

My sister just sent through some scans from last August when we were on the Tuscan coast, St Tropez and Biarritz.

  All photographs by Olivia Kaplan.

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In late June James and I took a train down to Lyon, hired a car and cruised across the alps to Piedmont arriving at dusk to an amazing little farm by the name of Finocchio Verde.

We found our hosts Mario and Isa along with another WWOOFer Marco milking the sheep and goats in the barn, next to a mama giving birth to a little lamb. We wandered around the beautiful property pointing out to each other all the edible things along with the melange of animals. Keeping the goats and sheep company were donkeys, endless cats and kittens that seemed to share mothers jumping from one teet to the next, two dogs one just a puppy and a few grubby pigs at the bottom of the vegetable garden. That night we were fed one of many amazing meals and returned to our room through a path of fireflies.

Our mornings were spent doing hard labour – erecting temporary fences, clearing stinging nettle and tending to the vines. We stopped when it got too hot and made our way inside to help prepare lunch. Most everything we ate was grown on the farm. We would go to the garden to collect asparagus, beans, lettuce, artichoke, purslane, herbs, capers, peppers, and the very first tomatoes of the season.

After siesta we would wander the property looking for wild fruit. Next to Mario & Isa’s property are some semi abandoned farmhouses which make for great exploring. Like the owners just disappeared they are still full with farm equipment and even old stiff coats still hanging from pegs next to doorways. We picked cherries, prunes and red currents and made summer fruit tarts most evenings, which I always decorated with sage flowers or rose petals. The wild flowers growing provided us with sweet little table arrangements which Marco sweetly started making with me.

Along with some of the most amazing cheeses I’ve had, Mario and Isa also make their own honey, jam, wine, vinegar, olives, and once a year they slaughter a pig and make many different types of delicious salami that last them through the year.

One afternoon Mario returned from a nearby fish auction with a tonne of fish bought from his fisherman friends. I gutted my first fish that afternoon and we helped clean maybe 100 more while Mario salted 50 kilos of anchovies. That evening he cooked the most delicious fish gently poached in a pot of incredible homemade passata, wine, garlic and olives. Another food highlight was the fried pardon-style peppers and raw minced meat seasoned simply with salt, pepper and wine covered with freshly shaved local truffles. And the fresh pasta… I could go on. It was all so bloody delicious.

On our final evening Mario’s family came for dinner and he fired up the pizza oven while the whole team helped prepare the delicious rounds of dough. A perfect send off. They really know how to work hard but also get the absolute most out of their day. They take such pleasure in their land and the food that they cook, it’s catching.

We are so happy and thankful to have experienced this small amount of time on their farm. They welcomed us with such generosity and their enthusiasm, vitality and ability to live so thoroughly off the land is enviable. IMG_3499IMG_3333IMG_3358IMG_3360

IMG_3340 IMG_3350     IMG_3382IMG_3366IMG_3394    IMG_3439IMG_3516IMG_3464 IMG_3491    IMG_3503 IMG_3506

IMG_3509   IMG_3524 IMG_3531 IMG_3537 IMG_3546 IMG_3551 IMG_3552IMG_3364IMG_3561 IMG_3562  IMG_3573IMG_3567 All photographs by Sophia Kaplan.

Sambo and I were in Hvar, Croatia not so long ago for the beautiful wedding of Michelle & Dan. We so enjoyed the hospitality of the lovely couple along with their family and friends, big thanks for having us.

While there we also managed a bit of adventuring, exploring the little islands by boat as well as taking a cute convertible (of course) to go further inland. The island was bursting with life, thyme growing wild under our feet, pomegranates and figs picked freely from the side of the street, flowering fennel towering above us, the sweet scent of rosemary filling the air and gnarled old olive trees scattered everywhere. Picking wild things straight from the land makes for a perfect summer.

All photographs by Sophia Kaplan.

My best friend Janey is over in Europe and has been sending me jealousy inducing photographs of her travels. I asked her to write a little something for the blog, so here is a guest post about her week in a beautiful Swedish summer house.

A Midsommer Night’s Dream by Jane Crowley

Set in the Swedish provence of Småland, home to dense forest, over 5000 glinting lakes, the highest number of moose in the country and of course Pippi Longstocking, a fairytale scene is set for midsummer. A red house nesting in the middle of the forest surrounded by blanketed fields of wildflowers, and a river not far. It’s June and the days are long, light and bright.

The preparations for summer solstice, the longest day of the year, begin early. With 50 of us on the farm (Germans, Swedes, Australians and Brits), we bake bread every day, retrieve water from the well, bathe in the river, decorate the house with local wildflowers, cut the grass, hang up the hammocks, set the trampoline, swat the flies, perfect the bon fireplace, paint signs, build the outdoor kitchen and prepare the wild boar for the spit roast.

There is a secret garden, a homemade sauna, a confession booth, a hunting tower, a magically decorated dual compost toilet-house, and a whisky library room. After creating flower crowns, and dancing around the maypole like frogs, all 50 of us sit at one long table in the garden decorated with candles, wildflowers and jugs of cocktails, to feast on Swedish herring, salmon and the wild boar that has been roasting for ten hours.

Later, by the fire, a glittery rave begins; in the library, more are belowing to Johnny Cash records; in the dining room, a serious game of poker continues in one corner while facepainting is happening in the other; and the rest are frollicking in the fields like fireflies. Sunlight all night long, a midsummer nights dream in a Swedish fairytale.

Thank you again and again to the wondrous hosts Sixten and Sara, and Sixten’s family who have owned the property for over thirty years.

So incredibly excited to be published in The Planthunter today. My sister and I put together a simple little guide to making foraged floral wreaths. Check it out here. I love what founder/ editor Georgina Reid is doing and very much look forward to contributing again in the future.

The Planthunter

Just found these pictures on my sisters camera of some wildflowers I picked in the alps a few months back. They make my heart ache with happiness.

Wildflowers

Photographs by Olivia & Sophia Kaplan.

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