It has been a pretty busy weekend for the Baker family and not without mishaps and bloodshed because this just seems to be the way we roll these days!? So grab yourself a coffee and stay a while.
Friday was our landlord’s olive harvest day!! His lovely wife was out and about early Friday morning checking the olive leaves to see if they held too much moisture from the night. The rains were predicted and the pressing was booked in for Saturday morning so there was nothing else to do but help with the olive harvest. I have been eyeing our olive tree off for the past few weeks wondering when we will be picking; however, Roberto has just been telling me to wait….soon Camilla, soon.
After it was decided that picking could commence at 11am it was all hands on deck getting the nets laid. I have never seen how to pick olives so I was eager to help with the process, as were the kids for about half a second and then something else looked like more fun so off they went playing with sticks.
The nets are very sturdy and massive, spreading out over a large expanse of ground, bushes and anything else that got in the way of catching the olives. Roberto had a fancy tree- or branch-shaking device that helped with the picking of olives up high while the rest of us gathered around the lower branches picking and sorting out good from bad the old-fashioned way.
Max seemed to hang around a little more and managed to pick a few olives before the others called him over for a game of Knights and Castles…..
The olives were mostly bright green, however, there were a few dark purple olives and I think when they start changing this is when you must start to pick?? I could have that wrong so please correct me if I’m way off track!
As Roberto was shaking the olives out of the trees,
Piera sat down on the boulders with her little basket and started picking the olives from the small new trees. I could have been more helpful, however, I had my good friend Sue coming for lunch so I really only picked until she arrived. Lucky for me Roberto still has more trees up the back of the property that need picking so I can get a proper fix as I find it relaxing work (again I picked over one tree, I may feel different after 3 or 4!).
Roberto and Piera picked all day long and only stopped when they could no longer see what they were doing. When you have the press booked you don’t have the luxury of taking too many breaks. Roberto was up at 5am on Sunday morning to deliver his precious goods. When we saw them around ten on Sunday morning they were looking very happy and pleased with themselves and said with much pride ‘it is a beautiful green, very green!’ We were then invited to partake in the festival of the first press. They explained it’s like a party you would have if you brought a new baby into the family and really when you tend to these trees and watch the olives grow it really is a big moment when you reap your rewards.
We replied a hearty YES! and were going over to their place for a tasting of the new oil in the evening, I was beyond excited!
While all of this was going on, our very good friends from Chicago had arrived in Florence and were coming to visit for a few weeks. Excitement all round, old friends, first pressings and glorious weather…it doesn’t really get better than that and this is when the wind changed.
Sunday was a very windy day in Florence, the boys were playing out in the yard having a great time with old and new friends, and we were sitting back with Kathleen and Jim talking about how I almost walked them into the ground on their first day here and then we heard it. Blood curdling scream (attention grabbing) then a jumble of profanity coming from Max’s mouth (wash his mouth out with soap!). I jumped out of my seat and was about to say something like ‘I beg your pardon Maximilian!’ when I looked up and saw him coming my way with blood pouring from his head. He was fuming, crying and looking very red. It didn’t really hit me until he was close enough for me to put my hand over the wound and feel the warmth of the blood and that’s when I thought ‘HOLY SHIT!!!’
Kathleen is a nurse so she went right into work mode and kept the situation calm and focused. Pressure was applied, ice was applied and calm was brought to the situation. Heads bleed A LOT, this I know for sure because when we finally stopped the bleeding I could barely see the wound. K saw it straight away (trained eye) and thought it may need a stitch so we had to run over to our landlords (we don’t have a car) and ask for help.
The thought hadn’t left my mind that they were preparing for dinner that night, however, they were so completely helpful and dropped everything to drive us to the ER and Piera even promising pizza on our return…I love these people. Roberto had us at the hospital within 12 minutes, I think we waited 4 minutes before being ushered into another room when a lovely nurse with blue hair and green/white fingernails started shaving Max’s head to find the wound.
Once the area was shaved she then said ‘Boh!….one stitch’ to which she proceeded. Anaesthetic would have taken too long to kick in so I told Max to grip my hand and she went for it. Max was very brave and it was all over in minutes. We were done and dusted in about 40 minutes and back home in time for the festivities to begin.
The festival of olive oil started with pizza and then worked its way up to wonderful stuffed peppers (they were filled with bread, capers, anchovies and olive oil) that I could of eaten all night, they had such a deep flavour and were completely morish. Bruschetta was then brought out and we were told to lightly brush the bruschetta with raw garlic then pour on the new olive oil quite liberally and then sprinkle with a little salt- DIVINE!! The olive oil came alive and the luscious grassy flavour dominated your taste buds….you didn’t want it to end.
Preparations for the end result…..
It was about here I wished I hadn’t had that extra serving of peppers because Roberto brought out the ribollita, salami, fagioli (at this point I almost burst but of course kept on eating because it all tasted fantastic especially when drizzled in the first pressing olive oil!!) I thought I had made it and eaten all I could until Piera threw her hands up in the air and said she forgot about the pork! I am not sure what part of my stomach made room but I was served a delicious helping of diced potatoes cooked with small pieces of pork (soaked in a little milk) and then roasted with bread pieces, sage and rosemary. If I wasn’t so full and bursting at the seams I would have had seconds, alas, I was done. If that was a celebration of the new oil I had wet its head well and truly and enjoyed every last drizzle…….oh and you know there was a dessert table just around the corner!
With Max’s head looking a little worse for wear and the four of us full of delicious food we said our thank yous, good byes and many thanks for everything else they had helped us with. Roberto placed a bottle of oil in my hands and I could not thank him enough for this precious gift. A gift I will keep on giving to my friends and family…..I’m already planning my own concoction of beans and olive oil- Yummmm