April 2013


Image credit: Slow Travel

Image credit: Slow Travel

In the advance of the Olio Capitale fair in Trieste in March, two of us spent the week touring Italy, with hundreds of kilometers added to the car.

From Rome to Campobasso, to Monticchiello (near Montepulciano in Tuscany), to Bologna, to Venice to Trieste, our diesel fill ups totaled euro 150 for an Alfa Romeo that counted as a mid-size vehicle (comparable to the Audi A3).

We rented from Avis and spent 50 Euro extra to have snow chains in the car, a legal requirement if were were to be pulled over. We also obtained International Drivers Licenses. This modern-day Thelma and Louise pair rented a manual transmission car, to save money of course. Like riding a bike, our ability to clutch and shift returned. We had given up manual transmission vehicles many years ago, when an extra hand was needed to tend to small children!

Knowledge of road signs, a decent map, and GPS are recommended, as you will see below.

We brought a Garmin GPS (updated for Italy) and it was worth every penny. On the first day we drove from Rome to a very small town, Cercemaggiore, in the area of Campobasso. There were turns instructed by the GPS that we failed to believe, but were undoubtedly true. In the region of Molise we found many “roads less traveled”. Once we learned to completely trust the GPS, and regained our sense of humor, we enjoyed each and every turn and vista.

We should have refreshed our memories on road signage, because some signs are far different from what we know on roads in North America. Knowledge of road signs, together with GPS is recommended. Please believe us on this one. (See the road signs tutorial on the Slow Travel Web Page).

There was only one place where the GPS caused more trouble than good. In the small mountain town of Mirabello Sannitico, we were on a steep narrow cobblestone road, lined closely by houses, when the road suddenly became one way, in the opposite direction!  Unfortunately, this little detail was not recognized by the GPS, which recommended a hairpin turn down a flight of stairs. And, maybe we should have taken another look at the roadsigns?

A young man noticed our plight (with the attitude that he had seen such foolishness before), and settled into the driver’s seat to back the car up the narrow winding path. We were most grateful to him for rescuing us! He was very kind to the two foolish American women.

Bonus! There’s another very significant way that a GPS beats a map. On our drives through small towns and on the autostrada, our GPS announced an alert in advance before each radar “traffic tutor”.

But don’t forget the map. With a map you can plan ahead. In some medium sized towns and larger cities, you will want to be aware of the ZTL, zones of limited traffic. When making hotel reservations, we asked about these to ensure directions not crossing the the ZTL. Fines for driving in a ZTL without a proper permit can be quite costly! You may wish to Google ZTL and Bologna (or whatever town) to find out if you need to be concerned about a ZTL on your travels. Here’s another good guide to ZTL.

While I love the ease of train travel, the car allowed us freedom to explore places that can’t be reached by train. Plan ahead. Be Fearless. Have Fun.

For more information on Speed Cameras in Italy, read this post.

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nyiooc

The premier New York International Olive Oil Competition was a great success with three days of speakers and the culminating awards ceremony for top extra virgin olive oils. Kudos to the folks at Olive Oil Times for their new event.

It is always fun to attend an olive oil event, and we enjoy the casual, in the hallway, meetings for what one can continue to learn about the world of olive oil. The presentations included formal tastings, discussions on price and value, the pride of countries (notably Spain and Italy), international agreements, and olive oil frontiers (olive oil in India).

When the awards were announced, Italy led the pack in the number of total medals!

We currently have several of the award winners, with more enroute across the Atlantic.

In Stock Now (all 2012 Harvest):

Fratelli Colletti, Silver

Ravida, Gold

Cutrera Primo DOP, Gold

DeCarlo, DOP Torre de Mossa 2012, Best of Class

Titone DOP Valli Trapanesi, Gold

Albereto, Badia a Coltibuono, Silver

Crudo, Gold Medal

Quattrociocchi Olivastro, Gold

Franci, Toscano IGP, Best of Class

Franci, Villa Magra, Best of Class

Franci, Olivastra Seggianese, Gold (coming soon)

Luna Vera, Sardinia, Gold

Olio Librandi, Monocultivar, Carolea, Organic, Gold

 

The full list of awards can be seen here.

Agrumato Lemon HerbFabulous food blogger Adri Barr Crocetti took Agrumato Lemon & Herbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a test drive.

“…because the olives are pressed simultaneously with the lemons the oil exhibits a remarkable harmony of flavor…”

She packs recipe ideas into her post…with snacking ideas and a marvelous Fresh Mushroom and Herb Salad. If you are wondering about the Nepitella as we were, AllThingsTuscan has a post as well.

Click here for the blog post and recipes.

Nepitella seeds can be purchased here.

Los Angeles Olive Oil Award Winners ~ Currently in Stock!

Los Angeles Olive Oil Award Winners ~ Currently in Stock!

(Updated 4 June 2013)

Each year the LA Awards are among the most exciting. They have just announced the Northern Hemisphere Awards and we currently have seven selections in stock (with more coming soon).

These producers are also to be praised for their year-over-year quality. A win-place-or-show is no fluke. Their medals and ribbons are truly a testament to their traditions of excellence.

Available Now!

Best of Class, Best of Show

FATTORIA RAMERINO Robust, Primus, Guadagnolo 2013

BEST OF SHOW – INTERNATIONAL – Robust, BEST OF CLASS, GOLD MEDAL

Gold

VILLA ZOTTOPERA GOLD MEDAL Medium, Organic, Chiramonte Gulfi 2013

PLANETA DOP, GOLD MEDAL Robust, Val di Mazara DOP

 

Silver

FRANTOI CUTRERA Primo DOP, SILVER MEDAL Robust, Tonda Iblea, Monti Iblei DOP 2012

OLIO VERDE, SILVER MEDAL Robust, Nocellara del Belice, Sicily

FATTORIA RAMERINO, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Dulcis, Guadagnolo 2013

CRUDO, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Ogliarola, Puglia

Bronze

FONTE DI FOIANO, BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Moraiolo, Tuscany 2013

FRESCOBALDI LAUDEMIO, BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Tuscany

TITONE BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Sicily

Coming Soon!

OLIO LIBRANDI, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Nocellara Del Belice, Organic, Calabria 2013 (coming soon!)

The full list of awards can be seen here.