9 gennaio 2011

In a list of the scariest creatures

In a list of the scariest creatures in the known universe, I wouldn't have fingered sheep and kittens as high-up contenders, or even put them on the list at all, actually; but Cassie's list is all her own work and sheep and kittens are up there fighting it out for first place (closely followed by the monster that lives in piles of wood, which even if it has never been seen, doesn't necessarily not exist and is therefore really, really scary). The sheep are back in the field again and Cassie can glimpse them through the trees, or see them properly when they come round the other side and right next to her paddock. She's in a permanent state of high alert, so much so that yesterday I decided not to take her out because she was so jittery. Today I was feeling braver and led her up to the yard and tried to get her circling on the long rein. No waaay. She was constantly trying to see what the sheep were up to, in case they were creeping up on her I guess, and leaping out of her skin at the smallest noise; and when they unexpectedly turned up practically in our garden I just gave up. I decided to change the schooling lesson into sheep habituation practice. I led her towards the sheep and she blew and snorted and pranced, but she did get there and managed not to shoot off in the opposite direction. I led her up and down the lane with the sheep very close on one side till she felt a little less like an unexploded bomb. Then, lulled into a false sense of security, I tried a bit more circling, which is where the kittens came in. The kittens tiptoed up to Cassie with big, you-look-interesting-please-don't-hurt-me eyes, and she put her head down to sniff them, and they ran away. This was fine and Cass liked the kittens when they did this. The problem was the kittens getting bored with being chased by a horse, and going off to play by the corner of the barn in amongst a tarpaulin, a post and a pile of bricks. And that was very very scary indeed.

8 gennaio 2011

Alessio and I stopped off

Alessio and I stopped off at Maria's on the way back from walking Maxim yesterday afternoon to try the new olive oil from some trees they own down in the valley. Mario had been waxing lyrical about it and wanted to sell us a few litres. Maria decanted some into a serving bottle and cut up some white bread and laid out squares of kitchen towel for us to eat off. The oil was thick and viscous and greenish, opaque. We drizzled it on to the bread with a teaspoon and sprinkled a little salt on. We took tentative bites, expecting it to be strong and explosive and for it to strip the back of our throat. Instead it was fresh and mild, delicious. We drizzled and munched some more. Maria delved under the sink and brought out an old Coke bottle filled with their home-made wine, and I was in such a good mood from the nice oil that I willingly poured myself half a glass to wash it down with. She then brought out some bean-like things to snack on called lupini, which look a bit like yellow broad beans. Sprinkled with salt, they were tasty, and apparently are a traditional snack at fairs. I remember them from the south of Italy. A neighbour came round and produced from his pocket a small plastic bag containing five or six small black truffles, covered with mud, that he and his faithful truffle-hound had dug out. He presented them to Maria as he'd found them on their land. After he'd gone, she gave two to me. 

At home I cleaned off the truffles and we ate one for supper, shaved into melted butter with nutmeg and parmesan and tossed into linguine. Well, it was nice enough but I don't totally see what all the fuss is with truffles.